Offerings of great rarities and spectacular errors were featured in the official Heritage Auctions Florida United Numismatists convention sale Jan. 6-8 and 10-11.
Leader of the pack was an 1894-S Barber dime that sold for $1,997,500, including a 17.5 percent buyer’s fee.
Graded a Branch Mint PR-66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service with a Certified Acceptance Corporation sticker, the 1894-S is called the finest known by catalogers.
Heritage said it was sold to an experienced collector, who placed his bid online and wishes to remain anonymous. The winning bidder was one of 16 different collectors vying for the piece.
“This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to own one of the most famous, mysterious and elusive coins in American numismatics,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “It’s a classic of American coinage often grouped with the 1804 dollar and the 1913 Liberty nickel as ‘The Big Three’ of U.S. coin rarities. It has been the stuff of collectors’ dreams since attention was first brought to it in 1900.”
Only 24 Barber dimes were struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1894, apparently in order to balance a bullion account. No more than nine – and possibly only eight – examples of the 1894-S are known to collectors today, with this coin being the finest survivor certified.
Another piece that captured the attention of the general news media was a Roosevelt dime struck on a zinc-coated sixpenny nail.
Bidders pushed it past four times estimate. It sold fdor $42,300. PCGS graded it MS-65.
The error was purchased by an unnamed prominent American collector, Heritage said.
“Significant error coins are among the most sought-after in the hobby,” Rohan, said.
“This is certainly among the most unique and mysterious errors to ever come to auction,” Rohan said. “The truth is, no one really knows how or why it was struck.”
What is known is that the zinc-coated sixpenny nail found its way into the coinage production line during the minting of Roosevelt dimes – the specimen is undated – and apparently escaped through normal distribution channels.
Heritage said this coin struck onto a nail is not the first coin to have such a distinction. A few examples of cents struck onto nails were discovered in the 1970s. The total number of similar errors, including this one, is thought to be approximately six.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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