A rare 1796 US Liberty with Pole Half Cent coin sold in the UK last night (January 22) for a substantial £185,000 ($293,069).
The hammer price represents an impressive 362.5% increase on its £40,000 ($63,415) top-end estimate.
The seldom-seen specimen is one of only 1,400 ever struck at the Philadelphia Mint, and the price achieved is testament to its condition and scarcity.
The coin remains in extremely good condition and boasts an even brown patina. While the cap shows a little flatness in striking, the fold lines are unusually distinct.
All the more remarkable for having been discovered in a match box, the pure copper, Pole Half Cent was originally designed without a pole by the Mint's chief engraver, Robert Scott. Fewer than 20 examples of the With Pole variety have been certified across all grades by the Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp, according to Coin World.
The coin was offered from the collection of the late Mark Hillary, a British student of Classics at Oxford University, who died in a climbing accident in 1963, aged just 20. Hillary had fashioned a makeshift display case from a matchbox, which, along with its valuable contents, was subsequently discovered by a relative.
Daniel Fearon, a consultant at the auction house that presided over the sale, commented: "I hope it will always be remembered as the Mark Hillary coin."
For more information on the investment potential of the coin market, see our free guide to investing in rare coins.
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