Coins and banknotes: 2016 auction review

It was a great year in the rare coin market.

While US coins took most of the top spots, it was good to see a smattering of British coins among the leaders.  

It was also great to see a renewed public enthusiasm for the hobby (in the UK) as bidders battled for rare examples of the new £5 note.

Will this be a flash in the pan, or could we have a new generation of collectors on our hands?

Top coin and banknote sale of 2016

The 1894 Barber dime is a classic rarity

There's only a few coins at the apex of the market and the 1894 Barber dime is most certainly one of them.

Only 24 were ever minted, for entirely unknown reasons.

The one that sold at Heritage this year is the finest known of this rare issue. It realised an impressive $2m - a record for its type.

2016's most important coin and banknote sales

King Edward VII once owned this 1643 Unite coin

The 1642 Charles I triple unite is one of the greatest English coins. As well as being beautifully designed, it's a superb piece of history that references the uniting of the British Isles. One sold for £105,000 ($148,756) in March.

The 1792 disme is steeped in myth. George Washington is said to have donated his own silverware to the minting press. An AU50 graded specimen made $998,750 at a sale hosted by Heritage Auctions in Chicago.

One of the most exciting things about collecting coins is that you really are holding history in your hands. I'll bet the AD 66-73 Judean War shekel that sold for $221,500 at Heritage in August could tell some tales.

The third finest 1920-S double eagle sold for a record $517,000 in November. I wouldn't be surprised to see at least one of the top two come to auction in the new year.

The most unusual coin and banknote sale of 2016

The origins of this piece are shrouded in mystery

This unique dime on a nail has to be one of my favourite numismatic pieces of all time.

It displays an image of President Roosevelt, although the date is unknown.

The deeply unusual lot proved a big hit with buyers, selling for $42,300 against a $10,000 estimate.

It was a breakout year for…

Only a handful of 1933 pennies were ever produced

This British 1933 penny was much hyped prior to its sale in May. It did not disappoint, setting a £72,000 ($103,708) record for a copper or bronze coin at auction.

So what makes it so desirable?

Well, it's one of only six or so pennies minted in the UK in 1933. They were produced mainly to be placed under the foundations of new buildings, which was the tradition at the time.

It was a year to forget for…

While the new £5 note was met with much interest in the British press, it's worth remembering that only the very low serial numbers are sought after.

Those who paid through the nose for notes marked AK47 may have a cool collectible, but not a serious investment.

One you may have missed

Remember to keep an eye out for silver 2p pieces

Silver two pence pieces remain rare in circulation, occasionally turning up in charity collection boxes to the delight of their finders.

In June one turned up in a Poppy Appeal tin in Wiltshire and subsequently made the charity £1,350 ($1,911) when it was acquired by a wealthy buyer.  

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