A sleeper is a wondrous thing. This was ably demonstrated in a Jan. 21 sale of “Silver, Coins and Medals” conducted by British auctioneers Woolley & Wallis.
The firm put a 1796 cent on the block. It came unslabbed and unheralded. It was graded VF and carried an estimate of £500-£700. But some bidders were paying attention.
It was not just any 1796 cent but a rare Draped Bust Sheldon-96. That’s the one with, among other things, a massive die crack running across the diameter from side to side. Its condition was superior to most of the relatively few S-96 coins that have been offered in recent years.
It was sold to dealer Stephen Fenton of Knightsbridge Coins for £51,000 [$77,465] including commission, or over 100 times the lower estimate.