World, ancient coins sell for record prices at auction: Top 10 Stories of 2014

Ancient Greek, Roman coins and British coins set new price benchmarks
By , Coin World
Published : 01/02/15
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Editor's note: The Top 10 Stories of 2014 have been judged by Coin World staff to be the most impactful and memorable numismatic stories of the past year. They are not ranked in any particular order.

See all of the Top 10 Stories of 2014

The top end of the market for world coins remained robust in 2014, as several series saw new record prices established for sales at auction.

The largest record of 2014 was for a silver tetradrachm of Syracuse, Sicily, sold May 26 in Zurich. The coin edged out the previous record price for a Greek silver coin at auction. 

The circa 405 to 400 B.C. coin, engraved by die artist Kimon, realized 2,737,000 Swiss francs (about $3,052,750 U.S.), including the 19 percent buyer’s fee. The coin was part of the David Walsh Collection, sold by Numismatica Ars Classica. 

The coin’s price barely surpassed the earlier record price paid, for a circa 409 to 406 B.C. decadrachm of Agrigentum, another seaside city-state in Sicily, in the firm’s auction on Oct. 17, 2012. 

Each coin had a hammer price of 2.3 million Swiss francs, but the buyer’s fee is now 19 percent, while it was 18 percent in the earlier auction. At the exchange rate of the time in 2012, the Agrigentum coin sold for the equivalent of $2,918,810 U.S. 

The tetradrachm of Kimon is “the greatest masterpiece of Greek numismatic art and work of the most talented master-engraver of the period,” according to the auction house, which also described it as “the most beautiful Greek coin in private hands.” 

Roman coins were also popular in 2014. 

One of the finest known examples of what may be the most famous ancient coin ever, the “Eid Mar” silver denarius from 42 B.C., reached a record price of $517,000, including the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee. 

The coin was the top lot among ancient Roman silver denarii coins sold in Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles’ June 3 auction. 

The circa late autumn 42 B.C. silver denarius is known as the Eid Mar or “Ides of March” coin for the Latin legend EID MAR on the reverse. The reference is to the assassination of Julius Caesar two years earlier, on March 15, 44 B.C. The coin is also famous for the image of one of the assassins, M. Junius Brutus, on the obverse. 

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. graded the coin Choice About Uncirculated, noting that its strike quality is 5/5, that surface quality is 3/5 and the coin is of Fine Style. 

The market for British coins was also robust in 2014.

A Proof 1937 gold sovereign of Edward VIII established a new record price for a British coin in a May 8 auction, according to the auctioneer, A.H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd. 

An anonymous floor bidder bought the coin, one of two examples known and the only one available individually, for £516,000 ($874,587.50 U.S.) including the 20 percent buyer’s fee. That is a record price for a British coin struck inside the United Kingdom, the auction house reports. The coin had an estimate of £250,000 to £300,000 (about $413,309 to $495,971 U.S.). 

The coin was part of the Hemisphere Collection of Gold Sovereigns, the first complete monarchical collection of gold sovereigns ever to be offered at auction.

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