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World auction ‘hides’ valuable U.S.


The extremely rare variety of Augustus Humbert 1852 $50, K-13 sold for $172,600 graded PCGS MS-62. (Image courtesy & © Spink New York)

Two choice U.S. rarities starred on Jan. 15 at a small but exclusive sale of a “Selection of Fine World Coins and Medals.” It was Spink’s third auction in as many days at the New York International Numismatic Coinvention (NYINC). Just 57 lots were offered All were highly desirable.

Star of the show proved to be an extremely rare variety of an Augustus Humbert 1852 $50 gold slug, K-13: “887 THOUS.”; target reverse; No “50” in Center. It came graded MS-62 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.

Spink was unable to find any recent auction records for a comparable grade of this Humbert type but observed that “PCGS Coin Facts” reports only three other examples of similar grade or higher. That on offer may well be the second finest known.

In the circumstances the price-realized, including commission, of $172,600 may be seen by some as a something of a steal. The current “PCGS Price Guide” lists MS-62 examples at $325,000.

The preceding lot was a choice and delightful example of an original Libertas Americana medal of 1781 struck in copper (46.40 g, 47.5mm), Betts – 615 AE. The catalog notes that just a hundred examples are believed known.


Rare Libertas Americana medal in copper commissioned by and partly designed by Benjamin Franklin. In EF it had no difficulty in realizing $22,950. Image courtesy & © Spink New York)

The medal was commissioned by Benjamin Franklin from the Paris Mint to celebrate the Peace Treaty between Great Britain and the young United States while also honoring Franco-American friendship. Franklin worked closely with French engraver Augustin Dupré on the design. The reverse shows Minerva (= France) defending the infant Hercules (=American Nation) from the British Lion.

Graded EF the piece had little problem in fetching $22,950.

Full catalog details and prices-realized are available on the Spink website:

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

More Collecting Resources

• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.