The highlight of Stephen Album Rare Coins’ auction No. 22 on May
14 and 15 was the circa 1846 to 1847 silver rupee of the Sikh Empire that realized a
hammer price of $8,000, 10 times the middle estimate of $700 to $900.
What makes the coin so special is the rarely-seen bird at the left
side of the obverse field. According to Stephen Album, an expert in
the series, as far as he knows only one other example that shows the
bird is known in the hobby.
“Apparently a lot of people wanted [an example] with the bird,”
The bird is a regular part of the design on the obverse die;
however, minting technology and practices in the empire resulted in
the bird rarely appearing on the coins. Issuers used increasingly
larger dies, even larger than the coins themselves, and the size of rupees varied from mint to mint, Album said.
The size of the planchets and their apparently random placement
between the oversized dies resulted in coins with incomplete designs.
The position of the bird at the design periphery made its inclusion on
the coins unlikely given the minting processes involved. Only about 60
percent of the bird is present on the example sold by Album.
The coin was graded Extremely Fine by the auction house. The buyer’s fee ranges from 17.5 to
19.5 percent, depending on payment method.
The auction was held at the firm’s offices in Santa Rosa, Calif. The
company’s next auction is scheduled for Sept. 10 and 11, 2015. For
additional information, visit the firm’s website.
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