1859 US proof set from Royal Mint Museum estimated at $350,000

London's Royal Mint Museum has announced that it will be parting ways with one of its 1859 US proof sets in order to make way for new acquisitions.

1859 US proof eagle
Dr Alexander's plans were scoffed at by both the chairman of the commission and the governor of the Bank of England, who said they had 'little merit'.

The set, which is near-complete with the exception of the $3, will be sold with a £150,000-200,000 ($250,000-350,000) estimate on March 6 in London. However, the fascinating story of how the coins found their way to the mint may well boost bids on the day.

Although Britain's coins first went decimal in 1971, the idea that the country's coinage should fall in with the rest of the world was actually introduced in 1855. This was the year that Professor John H Alexander of Baltimore published his pamphlet entitled International Coinage for Great Britain and the United States, for which he was appointed by congress as the US representative to the London Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage in 1857.

Dr Alexander's plan was to equalise the value of the American $5 Half Eagle and the British Sovereign, thereby unifying the two nations. He stated: "...the two great branches of the Saxon family will realize what history shows to have been the uniform destiny of their forefathers ... the establishment of one weight, one measure and one money, first for themselves, and then the world".

To support his ideas, Alexander presented London's Royal Mint with a complete double proof set of US coins from the Eagle to the cent, which have been on display at the Royal Mint Museum ever since. One of these is the set to appear at auction, making for an exciting opportunity for collectors.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a stunning selection of rare coins for sale, including an 1831 William IV proof crown that is a previously unrecorded example showing the fantastic engraving skill of William Wyon.

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