Dec 23, 2013

Which is the most expensive coin in the world? The flowing hair silver dollar of 1794

On January 24, 2012, Stack Bowers auctioned a "flowing hair" silver dollar of 1794 for a staggering $ 10.016.875 (including a 17.5 percent buyer's fee). Almost one year later, it remains the highest price ever achieved at an auction for a coin. The previous 7.5 million record was set in 2002 for a 1933 Double Eagle.

LegendNumismatics, a rare-coin firm, bought the coin, and its chairman, David Bowes, declared he was prepared to bid even higher in order to acquire it. Why is this coin so valuable? Because many experts believe it to be the very first dollar struck by the U.S. mint in 1794, the year in which the American government issued silver dollars for the first time. It is also the finest example known of this early issue. For all this reasons, this is an iconic coin, surely one of the most important numismatic objects in American history.

Legend numismatics still owns the coin and the firm will surely not offer it at a public auction any time soon betting its price will go up with time. 

Oct 16, 2011

The most expensive Roman Coin

In December 2008, Numismatica Genevensis held a spectacular auction with many lots of unique quality and rarity. A beautiful sestertius of Hadrian broke then all records for the price paid for a Roman coin at auction, changing hands for 2,300,000 CHF, including the 15 percent buyer’s fee. (2,561,530.74 USD).

This is a completely exceptional coin. The obverse presents an extraordinary portrait of Emperor Hadrian, the work of a master die-engraver dubbed the "Alphaeus Master" by C.T. Seltman ("Greek Sculpture and Some Festival Coins," Hesperia 17, 1948, 71-85). Many Scholars believe this engraver may in fact be the great sculptor Antoninianus of Aphrodisias whose superb style epitomized the Hadrianic revival of Greek classicism, but it is only speculation. The coin auctioned by Numismatica Genevensis is one of the best preserved of these sesterces.

On the obverse we see a striking portrait of the emperor and on the reverse the goddess of peace (Pax) standing and holding a branch and a cornucopia. This Sestertius was probably coined in 135 to mark the celebration of Hadrian Vicennalia (the 20th anniversary of his ascension to the throne). The selection of Pax for the reverse may well be a reference to the hope of the emperor to put a quick end to the Bar Kochba revolt in Judaea, a traumatic event that marred the last years of the emperor’s life.