US Coins

Central States auction tops $22.8M

An 1875 Coronet gold $10 eagle graded Proof 63 Cameo sold for $193,875 at Heritage’s April 27 CSNS Platinum Night auction in Schaumburg.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A Proof 1866 Coronet double eagle sold to benefit GracePoint Church in Valparaiso, Ind., brought $517,000 on April 27 as part of Heritage’s Central States Numismatic Society auctions.

The gold rarity — one of perhaps 10 known of 30 struck — was the top lot of Heritage’s April 26 to 30 U.S. coin auctions in Schaumburg, Ill., which realized more than $22.8 million.

The gold $20 double eagle was certified Proof 65 Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and the coin was given a gold Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker.

It was donated to the church by the wife of the collector who purchased it in 1993, and it was sold to help the congregation get its own church building. The story brought mainstream media attention, linking the church with the motto “In God We Trust,” which first appeared on double eagles in 1866. The church’s pastor, Ben Lamb, said before the sale, “It’s ironic that the last few hours before our financial deadline, the congregation had to do exactly what the coin’s motto said over a hundred years ago: trust God.”

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After the sale Pastor Lamb told the Chicago Tribune that after Heritage’s seller’s and buyer’s fees were accounted for, the congregation would receive $418,000. Heritage had conservatively estimated that the piece would bring $300,000 and, on the strong result, Pastor Lamb said, “We obviously would have been grateful for it to sell for $300,000, but getting more helps with the deficit so greatly.” The new church is slated to be ready for services this October.

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Another significant Proof coin in the auction was an 1875 Coronet gold $10 eagle graded Proof 63 Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service. Just 100 1875 gold eagles were struck at the Philadelphia Mint for circulation, so collectors seeking an example often look to the 20 Proofs struck. Of the circulation strikes, fewer than 10 are believed to survive and a comparable number of Proof coins remain. With several examples housed in permanent museum collections including the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection and the American Numismatic Society’s holdings, fewer than 20 1875 Coronet eagles of either kind are available.

The provenance of the subject piece may date back to 1875, when William B. Wetmore purchased a complete 1875 gold Proof set from the Philadelphia Mint. This example would later join the collection of Egypt’s King Farouk and then the Norweb Collection. It was last sold at a 1991 Superior Galleries auction where it realized $68,750. In Schaumburg it brought $193,875.

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