Coins and banknotes - 2014 auction review

There's hope for us all.

In 2013 we brought you the news of the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard - 1,427 gold coins unearthed by two dog walkers in California. In 2014, half of that hoard was sold. In May, at San Francisco's Old Mint, where much of the hoard was minted around 150 years ago, the lucky couple held their first auction. 346 coins sold for more than a combined $1m. More have sold since. Proof that you can still find buried treasure. And profit from it.

Here's what else caught our eye in 2014.

Top coin sale of 2014

One of only seven Brasher Doubloons sold for $4.6m at Heritage Auctions. That was an auction record for silversmith Ephraim Brasher's famed 1787 doubloons. Why so? With an NGC grading of Mint State 63, it is the best condition of the seven. It last sold in 1979 for $430,000 - representing a 7% per annum rise in value.

Brasher doubloon
One of just seven Brasher Doubloons in existence

It's still unclear why Mr Brasher made the coins. What we do know is that they're now among the most coveted coins in the world.

2014's important coin sales

There are only five 1913 Liberty Head nickels in the world. The Olsen Specimen sold for $3.3m in January. It is the second highest graded of the five, at NGC Proof 64, and has the dubious accolade of once having appeared in an episode of Hawaii Five-O.

An NGC Mint State 66 1927-D Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle arrived at Heritage Auctions in January. Described by the auction house as "the rarest, most famous, and most desirable collectible regular issue United States gold coin of the Twentieth Century", and with just one example in better grade, it's easy to see why this one made $2m.

A 1937 Edward VIII gold sovereign set a world record for any British coin when it sold for £516,000 ($875,000) in May. The proof sovereign never became legal currency, due to the king's abdication that year. The previous record for a British coin was set in 2006 by one of only three Edward III florins. The 1344 coin sold for £460,000 ($780,588).

An 1890 $1,000 Grand Watermelon treasury note became the world's most valuable banknote, after selling for $3.2m in January.

It was a breakout year for…

Brazilian coins. These South American beauties rarely make the headlines but a gold 1822 Pedro I 6400 reis was an exception in 2014. It broke the auction record for a Brazilian coin at $499,500. Here's hoping the new record will pave the way for more major Brazilian coin sales in the near future.

It was a year to forget for…

Generic gold coins. With the price of gold flatlining in 2014, owners of gold coins of little numismatic worth had a difficult year. Which backs up what we've always said at Paul Fraser Collectibles. If you're going to invest in gold coins, make sure they're collectible. Because if the price of gold drops, you will still have an item of value.

One you may have missed…

A British coin collector sold his entire hoard of gold coins after reading Jesus' teachings about the rich. Initially angry that Jesus thought it wrong to store wealth, the unknown collector, in his words, "saw the light". The coins made £200,000 ($311,000) for charity.

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