World Coins

Why Gadoury's annual auction in Monaco is golden

Gold is on the menu when Éditions Victor Gadoury conducts its annual auction in Monaco.

The sale, scheduled for Dec. 3, includes hundreds of lots, many geared around the theme of the sale, “Gold: from Ancient Times to the Present Day.”

There are, of course, coins and medals of other metals, but many of the highlights have a golden gleam. 

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Gold coins from all historical eras and countries, from gold aurei of the Roman republic to Chinese Panda coins, are at the heart of the upcoming Gadoury auction, to be conducted in the Hotel le Méridien

Unlike many European auction houses, many of the pieces in this sale have been graded and encapsulated by major third-party grading services. 

Roman coin in silver

The auction includes many gold denarii from the time of Trajan and Hadrian, but a historical highlight is the silver denarius for Marciana, Trajan’s sister.

The circa 98 to 117 A.D. coin was struck in Rome. It weighs 3.23 grams and measures 18 millimeters in diameter, so it’s about the size of all Lincoln cents, and slightly heavier than pre-1982 Lincoln cents.

Trajan and Marciana had a close relationship, and the deep affection between them is evident in Trajan’s decision to grant her the title of Augusta, the first sister of an emperor to receive the title. Marciana thus became a part of the imperial iconography, and her statue was placed at the same time as those of Trajan and his wife Plotina on the Arches of Trajan in Ancona.

The coin is graded Fleur-de-Coin, meaning Proof. It features an exceptional portrait, according to Gadoury, and has an estimate of €5,000 ($5,553 U.S.).

Many French patterns

Standing out from the wide array of French coinage from the Carolingians to the Fifth Republic are the more than 50 lots of French patterns and piedforts. 

One of the rarest patterns on offer, and with probably the most famous French coin design ever, is the 1959 La Semeuse (The Sower) gold 5-franc coin by Louis Oscar Roty. 

Roty designed the image decades earlier, and it was used for various silver coins across several eras. But an effort to issue a gold 5-franc piece in 1959 was short-lived, and only eight examples of the pattern were struck. 

This coin is one of the rarest coins of the Fifth Republic, according to the auction house.

Graded Mint State 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the coin has an estimate of €15,000 ($16,661).

Real Russian rarity

One of the final world highlights is among the classic gold rarities of 19th century Russian numismatics, an 1896 Nicholas II 25-ruble coin. The coin is also called a 2½ Imperial piece. 

It shows Nicholas II on the obverse, and is thought to be a special commemorative issue for his coronation. The reverse shows the crowned double-headed Imperial eagle.

The piece, graded About Uncirculated Details by NGC, is from a mintage of 300 pieces and “very few” have survived, so despite the Details grade, it remains in demand.

The coin has an estimate of €40,000 ($44,426). 

U.S. gold coins abound

Rounding out the auction is a large collection of American gold $20 double eagles, many of which were produced in the aftermath of the Californian Gold Rush.

In the mix are 15 different coins from the Carson City Mint, but a rarity from another branch mint, New Orleans, is chief among the offerings.

Only 2,325 examples of the 1879-O Coronet gold double eagle were struck. 

The coin features the standard James B. Longacre design of Liberty.

The example offered by Gadoury also evidences damage noted by a grading service, in the Professional Coin Grading Service Genuine, Repaired, AU Details grade.

The coin has an estimate of €15,000 ($16,661).

To see all lots in the auction or to bid visit the auction firm website

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