img_6-1.jpg
A 1854 gold Five Dollar Liberty ‘half eagle’ struck by the San Francisco Mint in 1854 that sold for $1.8m at Heritage Auctions.

You have 2 more free articles remaining

Generating $27.2m (£21.3m) in coin sales from August 14-19, Heritage reported 4763 bidders in total with no fewer than 26 combatants for its top lot: a 1854 gold Five Dollar Liberty ‘half eagle’, one of the rarest of all US coins.

Dubbed a “discovery of a lifetime”, it was one of just 268 examples struck by the San Francisco Mint in 1854 during the California Gold Rush, of which only four survivors are known. 

It was discovered by a life-long New England resident who had shown it to a few collectors and dealers at a recent coin show but was told it was likely to be a fake.

It was then submitted to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), who authenticated it as genuine in April after comparing it to the examples in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the collection of Texas property magnate D. Brent Pogue.

Making the first auction appearance of this coin, it sold for $1.8m.

Other coin rarities on offer at Heritage were a 1792 $10 Washington President gold eagle pattern coin which sold to a historian who was described as “a lifelong admirer of Washington” but had never before purchased a rare coin. It sold at $1.45m (£1.13m).

A silver eight Reales coin struck in Mexico City by the Spanish in 1538, one of three from salvaged in the 1990s the Golden Fleece shipwreck in the northern Caribbean, sold at $440,000 (£343,750), below its $500,000 estimate.

It was authenticated in April after comparison to the examples in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the collection of Texas property magnate D Brent Pogue.

The first auction appearance of this coin, it sold for $1.8m (£1.4m).

Exchange rate on day of sale: £1 = $1.28