Our Top Five... Remarkable rare coin sales of the last quarter of 2010


2015-06-26 12:13:39


Our Top Five... Remarkable rare coin sales of the last quarter of 2010

Last year was an incredible year for numismatic investments; here are the best from its final months

If you've any interest in coin collecting or investment, you won't need us to tell you that 2010 was a strong year for rare coin sales. Any number of startling and record-breaking auctions took place in the course of the year.

In fact there are probably too many to summarise easily for the whole year. But the closing months of 2010 saw a flurry of strong sales with a number of great numismatic rarities. So even though focussing on them misses some great sales - notably Baldwin's blockbusting sale of Chinese coins in the summer, here are our top five sales from the final quarter of 2010.

The Portuguese coin of Hamburg

Firstly, an impressive European sale turned heads early in October. Western European coin sales have often lagged behind US, Chinese and Russian coin auctions, so it was refreshing to see a Hamburg coin (partially pictured above)bucking the trends.

While this specimen was produced during the reign of King Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germanyfrom 1658-1705 (himself no stranger to the auction block), the origin of this 10 ducat piece actually dates back to the 16th century.

It was inspired by a Portugese coin, one intended to show its Indian traders how prosperous it was with symbols of Hamburg's banking, trade and commerce.

Formerly of the Siegfried Collection, auctioneer Knker described it as a "very attractive specimen with fine gold patina", and it doubled its 50,000 estimate to sell for 100,000 ($133,500)

The 1879 'Washlady' Dollar

Fast-forward four weeks and Heritage were selling a particularly magnificent 1879 'Washlady' dollar at their COINFEST auction. It's a sign of how tastes change.

"In the late 19th century this design was not well received by dealers and collectors, and was apparently given the nickname of 'Washlady' by David Proskey around April 1891 at the Doughty Sale," noted Heritage's Greg Rohan at the time.

1879 Washlady Dollar1879 Washlady Dollar

The coin brought$161,000, making it the star ofHeritage's stunning $9.42m auction.

The Confused Russian Battle Celebration

Although they haven't had the history with rare coins that Baldwin's, Heritage or Knker have, Bonhams understands collectibles as well as anyone, and their department came into its own in mid-December with a sale of roughly 550 lots of rare Russian coins and currency with nearly 100 coming from the Tsarina collection.

Chief amongst these was awonderfully detailed gold medal commemorating the capture of Riga, on July 4, 1710.

Designed by P.H. Muller, a bust of Peter I faces right on the obverse whilst the reverse exhibits a view of Riga with its fortress under heavy artillery fire, and the inscription below - CAPTURED 8TH DAY OF JULY. For some unknown reason, all of the Riga medals feature this incorrect date.

It sold for a spectacular $234,000 - well over ten times its $15,000-20,000 listing.

The Sluggish Eagle

A collectable coins exhibition in Baltimore saw a very rare 1851 Augustus Humbert $50 gold coin go under the hammer at Bowers and Merena.

An expert at Stack's, the coin's previous seller, even went so far as to call this piece "one of the most important and appealing Territorial gold coins from any era that this cataloguer has ever had the privilege of handling."

Humbert $50 'Slug' coinHumbert $50 'Slug'

An example of a Humbert 'Slug', it bears extraordinary detail including a very clear strike of the eagle on the obverse.

There are just two known examples of this coin in the world, of which this example is the best-preserved, and frenzied bidders acknowledged that, pushing the final price all the way up to $316,250.

The Bullock's Eagle

Finally, with Heritage again, and right back at the beginning of October,1856-O double eagle coin soared to the top of the auctioneer's Long Beach auction in sunny California.

The coin had been hidden away in the Bullock collection, which had been held quietly and passed on to his family without comment. When it surfaced in July 2010, it had gone unseen for nearly a century, and was front page news in local and numismatic publications.

Graded XF45+ by the NGC it sold to a satisfied bidder for $345,000.

Recent and Related Articles...

Coin showing Peter III in the year he was supposedly dead sells for $95,000 | 18 November 2010

The gold 10 roubles piece led a strong sale for Russian coins in Switzerland, last month

Historic German and Austrian coins and medals appear for sale in Stuttgart | 18 November 2010

Rare centuries-old numismatic gems are available for online bids, in an auction closing later today

One of Peter III's last coins, a 10 roubles piece, is a sale highlight in Zurich | 25 October 2010

From the year he was declared dead - to his surprise - the rarity stars alongside other Russian coins

60,000 Victoria proof set shines at Spink's rare coins auction | 1 October 2010

Splendid sets of rare British gold coins dominated the London sale, alongside a Russian rarity

Baldwin's auction could see record prices for rare coins of Britain and the world | 15 September 2010

Coins from Charles I & Queen Anne set to star alongside Russian Ducats & Greek rarities

Images: Heritage, Bowers & Merena, Knker

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