New-found 1854-S half eagle brings $2.16 million
- Published: Aug 17, 2018, 9 AM
The recently discovered fourth identified example of 1854-S Coronet, No Motto gold $5 half eagle realized $2.16 million Aug. 16 in Philadelphia during Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night session held in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. authenticated the find as genuine and graded and encapsulated it Extremely Fine 45.
Since no example of this mintage had sold since 1982, current values placed in the various price guides for an 1854-S half eagle were entirely speculative. NGC had placed a $3 million valuation online for an Extremely Fine coin, without specifying whether that applies for an EF-40 or for an EF-45 grade. With the addition of this fourth coin, Coin World’s Coin Values before the auction placed a value of $1.75 million in EF-40 and $4.5 million in About Uncirculated 55.
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The last time one of the other three coins appeared at auction was in 1982, in Bowers and Ruddy sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection, where it sold at auction for $187,000, which included the 10 percent buyer’s fee. That coin was offered as Extremely Fine.
This fourth known example was reportedly in the possession of an unnamed New England collector whose numismatic acquaintances believed the coin had to be counterfeit because of the rarity of genuine examples, although the collector himself wasn’t so convinced. The collector’s identity is not publicly known. The collector did not disclose to grading service officials how the coin came into his possession.
Of the other three pieces known, from a mintage of 268 coins during the San Francisco Mint’s first year of production, only one is privately held. One example is in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History; a Professional Coin Grading Service About Uncirculated 58+ example resides in the Pogue family collection in Texas; and a third coin has not been seen publicly since it was stolen during a daring armed robbery in 1967 at the Coconut Grove, Florida, estate of industrialist Willis H. DuPont.
There was immediate speculation following the announcement of the authentication of this fourth known example that it might rather be the stolen DuPont coin, since other rarities stolen during the 1967 robbery have surfaced in the New England area. NGC states that it is a separate example.
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