A stunning gold coin find has been made by a lucky New England man.
A fourth 1854-S $5 gold piece has been authenticated as genuine by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
This raises the number known to exist from three to four.
For those who think there is nothing new under the sun comes a reminder that this is not a true assessment of numismatics.
New discoveries like this rekindle our enthusiasm and remind us of how much still remains beyond our knowledge.
Some details to the story are lacking because the coin’s owner wishes to remain anonymous. However, the facts we know are fascinating.
NGC says the coin’s owner thought it was counterfeit.
Because that is a reasonable assumption to make with such a rarity.
The good news for the owner is he was wrong, but he was very smart in sending the piece to NGC.
Let’s let NGC tell its story.
Chairman Mark Salzberg said, “The owner of the coin is a life-long New England resident who wants to remain anonymous.
"He was stunned when we informed him that it is a genuine, multi-million dollar rare coin.
"He had shown it to a few collectors and dealers at a recent coin show, but everybody said they thought it was a fake because until now there were only three genuine surviving 1854-S $5 gold pieces known.”
Original mintage is 268 pieces.
One is in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
One is owned by the Pogue family of Texas.
The third has not been seen since it was stolen from industrialist Willis DuPont in Coconut Grove, Fla., in 1967.
Rick Montgomery, NGC president, said, “Our initial reaction on examining the coin from New England was utter disbelief that a rarity of this magnitude could still be discovered in this era.
"But upon seeing the coin in person for the first time, it was apparent that the coin is genuine.
“Upon carefully comparing the submitted coin to the images of the known examples in the Smithsonian and the Pogue Collection, it became quite clear that we were looking at a major find.
“We next sought to be sure the coin was not the stolen DuPont example.
"The DuPont 1854-S $5 was the same piece sold in the October 1962 Stack’s sale of the Samuel W. Wolfson Collection.
"After locating images from the Wolfson auction, we were able to determine that the coin in our offices was not the coin that was stolen from the DuPont family,” Montgomery said.
The Smithsonian sent a photograph of its coin to NGC to assist in authentication.
What an amazing story this is.
Now that he has a certified genuine multi-million-dollar rarity, what will the anonymous owner do with it?
Montgomery said he is looking at consigning it to an auction firm.
Let’s see what happens.
For now, the last word goes to Salzberg:
“It’s like finding an original Picasso at a garage sale.”
Who would disagree?
Such is the wonder of coin collecting.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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