The World’s Fair of Money came to Heritage Auctions over the last several days, and, appropriately, it was an extraordinary thrill ride as numerous world records were set on the way to a $68,776,095 auction total.
U.S. Coins realized a total of $48,849,983, with perfect sell-through rates of 100% by value and by lots sold. World and Ancient Coins brought $19,926,112, with near-perfect sell-through rates of 99.4% by value and 98.9% by lots sold.
Each total set a new ANA record. The previous record for U.S. Coins, set in 2008, was $41 million, while the previous ANA record for World and Ancient coins, set in 2020, was $11.1 million
“We saw some really powerful bidding for trophy pieces from our collector clients,” said Todd Imhof, Heritage Auctions executive vice president. “We always feel honored when top connoisseurs entrust us with items from their incredible collections and its doubly rewarding when we deliver such strong results for them.”
The fireworks started on the event’s first day when a 1861 Paquet Double Eagle, MS67, CAC drew 75 bids before selling for $7.2 million, the highest price ever paid for a U.S. $20 Liberty gold coin, which is one of the rarest coins in American numismatics. The issue has been an extraordinary rarity since the day it was struck, and just two examples are known to remain in existence.
A 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, MS66+, considered the finest surviving representative of the mintage, also sparked furious competition, as 54 bids poured in before it closed at $6.6 million – a world record for a regular-issue silver dollar. This example, from the collection of Bob R. Simpson, is one of just 135-150 believed to remain in existence. Some pieces were reserved as samples, an idea supported by the fact that just a handful of 1794 silver dollars remain in Mint State, plus one Specimen strike.
Nearly three dozen bids poured in for an 1854-S Liberty Half Eagle, XF45 until it reached $2.4 million, another world record. A rare coin since the day it was struck, the 1854-S Liberty half eagle is a regular-issue coin that owes its elusive nature to its microscopic mintage of just 268 examples, of which just four are known to survive … and one of those is housed in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian.
A 1921 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, PR64+ became the fourth U.S. coin in the event to reach seven figures when it brought a winning bid of $2,010,000. This example is the finer of just two known proof 1921 twenties. It has been off the market since it was discovered in 2006, although it was exhibited at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in 2010 and 2013.
An 1878 $10 Ten Dollars, Judd-1581, Pollock-1774, R.8, PR66 Deep Cameo PCGS fetched 75 bids before it finished at $810,000, an auction record for this pattern. This is the only privately-owned example of one of the rarest issues in the U.S. pattern series. Only two examples were struck in 1878; the other has been in the collection of the Connecticut State Library for more than a century.
Other notable U.S. Coins results included, but were not limited to:
- A 1795 Small Eagle Five Dollar, MS65 Prooflike: $588,000
- An 1879 Flowing Hair Stella, PR67 Deep Cameo: $576,000
- An 1875 Sailor Head Five Dollar, Struck in Gold: $528,000
- A 1795 Capped Bust Right Eagle, MS64: $516,000
- A 1944-S Zinc-Coated Steel Lincoln Cent, MS66: $408,000
- A 1920-D Quarter, MS68+ Full Head: $372,000 (the highest price ever paid for any Standing Liberty quarter – pattern or regular issue)
- An 1827 10C Pointed Top 1, JR-10, High R.7 as a proof, SP68 NGC: $312,000
A Victoria gold Proof “Una and the Lion” 5 Pounds 1839 PR66★ Ultra Cameo NGC sold for $1,440,000, the most ever paid for the type and the second-most ever paid for a British coin at auction. Boasting great popularity and scarcity, the Una and the Lion 5 Pounds of William Wyon was designed exclusively for inclusion in Victoria’s delayed 1839 Proof Set. Only about 400 were originally minted, but soaring demand dictated that the Royal Mint had to produce to-order examples for nearly 50 years, until 1886.
A Marcus Junius Brutus, Assassin of Caesar and Imperator (44-42 BC). AR denarius (18mm, 3.61 gm, 12h). NGC XF 4/5 - 3/5, bankers mark, test cut, drew a winning bid of $312,000. From the WTR Collection, the EID MAR denarius is widely considered the most historically important ancient coin. It is the only Roman coin to mention a specific date, and the only Roman coin to openly celebrate the act of murder. The final result was the most paid for any Roman silver coin in 2021.
More than a dozen bids boosted a Marcus Junius Brutus, Assassin of Caesar and Imperator (44-42 BC), with Pedanius Costa as Legate. AV aureus (19mm, 8.00 gm, 11h). NGC Choice Fine★ 5/5 - 4/5 to $312,000, the same result realized by a Mexican Philip V gold "Royal" 8 Escudos 1715 Mo-J MS62 NGC.
An extremely rare Charles I gold Triple Unite 1643 MS61 NGC ended at $264,000. This is an exceptional specimen of this remarkable coinage, the largest gold issue of England and one of the most emblematic of the Civil War series, and a Marc Antony, as Triumvir and Imperator (44-30 BC), with Octavia. AV aureus (20mm, 8.04 gm, 1h). NGC Choice VF 4/5 - 3/5, from the Monaco Collection, reached $216,000.
Other top World Coins in the event included, but were not limited to:
- A Victoria gold Proof "Una and the Lion" 5 Pounds 1839 Proof Details (Repaired) NGC: $192,000
- A Victorinus, Romano-Gallic Empire (AD 269-271). AV aureus (19mm, 4.83 gm, 12h). NGC Choice AU★5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style: $180,000 – the most expensive coin of Victorinus sold in 2021
- A James II gold 5 Guineas 1688 MS62 PCGS: $174,000
- An Octavian, as Sole Imperator (31-27 BC). AV aureus (21mm, 8.00 gm, 5h). NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 3/5, brushed: $168,000
- A Maria Theresa Tallero (Vizlin) 1748-Dated (1798) MS61 NGC: $96,000 – the most expensive coin of Ragusa ever sold
- A Maximilian silver "Small Letters" Pattern Peso 1866-Mo MS66+ NGC: $96,000 – the most expensive Mexican peso ever sold
- A Mexican Republic "Hookneck" 8 Reales 1824 Do-RL MS65 NGC: $96,000 – the most expensive “Hookneck” 8 Reales ever sold
- A João VI gold 4000 Reis 1819-(B) MS63 NGC: $96,000 – the most expensive Brazilian coin sold in 2021