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Silver dollar, silver dreams

The 1933 $20 gold piece has been dethroned as the top American rarity by value as achieved at a public auction.

Stack’s Bowers announced that last night the finest known 1794 silver dollar reached $10,016,875 including buyer’s fee, leaving the $7,590,020 previous auction record in the dust.

Congratulations to the firm. Good luck to the buyer. I don’t know who it is, but it would be nice if he or she would put it on public display at some point at a major convention.

Who wouldn’t want to see the $10 million dollar? It is inspiring.

This achievement doesn’t necessarily mean that the 1794 dollar is more valuable than a 1933 double eagle, because the gold coin most recently sold over 10 years ago in 2002.

What would a head-to-head auction race achieve?

For that matter, what about Walter Perschke’s Brasher doubloon? His price point for getting interested in pursuing discussions for a sale is in the same neighborhood as that achieved by the 1794 dollar.

There is something about that $10 million figure that indeed focuses the mind.

Three weeks ago Numismatic News asked in a online poll question whether the Walton specimen 1913 Liberty Head nickel will bring $10 million when it is auctioned by Heritage in April.

It just might, though I am ashamed to admit that in my annual forecasts for the year I wimped out and said the coin would bring at least $4 million, which handily beats the previous auction price of a 1913, but is less than the last reported private treaty price.

Of course, I can get a lawyer to say I am correct, a $10 million price would meet the definition of “at least $4 million.” Nah. I’ll just take my lumps.

Funny that I should have written my forecast that way because overall I was feeling very optimistic about 2013.

Stack’s Bowers has begun the year in a way that makes numismatics an exciting place to be.

When I first began reading numismatic publications in 1967, Aubrey Bebee paid $46,000 for a 1913 Liberty head nickel. That was astounding to me and it made me think that this hobby was one of infinite possibilities.

Ten million dollars is not “infinite” but it is a whole lot closer to it than $46,000.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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