Coins and banknotes: 2017 in review

Ever since the first coins made their appearance in Asia Minor in the 7th century BC, we’d wager there have been coin collectors.

This year proved there’s life in the old dog yet.

Some exceptional pieces crossed the block, with the top figures (as usual) reserved for rare US issues.

Top coin and banknote sale of 2017

1804 silver dollar

This 1804 silver dollar shouldn't really exist 

The 1804 silver dollar is one of the rarest of US issues.

It technically shouldn’t exist. No silver dollars were struck in 1804. A run of 15 were minted in 1834 purely as collector’s items.

Only eight are known.

In April, a superb specimen achieved a result of $3.8m in Stack’s Bowers.

2017’s most important coin and banknote sales


This bullion coin would have been worth $50

Gold prospectors were among the first westerners in California. Before the official mint arrived, gold was stamped into bullion coins – which represented a set figure. A piece from 1852 made $150,000 back in January.

The 1943 Lincoln error cent is one of the few rare US coins you might occasionally find in circulation. It’s struck on bronze rather than the usual steel, a brief experiment. One realised $282,000 in August this year.

Everyone likes buried treasure. Particularly when it’s well over 1,000 years old. This 2nd century Roman ingot was found by a metal detectorist (yes, that is the technical term) in Plymouth, UK. It realised £25,000 ($31,288) in an eBay sale.

The United States didn’t come into existence until 1776. In the 200 or so years prior to the Declaration of Independence, America was a patchwork of European colonies confined to the eastern coast. The 1652 Pine Tree shilling, from Massachusetts Bay, was one of the earliest coins ever minted in America. A good specimen sold for $141,000 this year.

So you like buried treasure? Sunken treasure has to be even better then! A 107.7 ounce Kellogg & Humbert gold ingot recovered from the wreck of the SS Central America achieved a staggering $188,000 in June.

The most unusual coin and medal sale of 2017

Glass cent

This experimental cent is made from glass 

We’re suckers for coins made from rare materials. And they don’t get much rarer than this glass prototype for the 1942 cent.

You might recall the 1943 bronze Lincoln cent we mentioned earlier. Well this glass design was another attempt to find a replacement for copper.

Steel was the final (rather dull) choice. This glass specimen sold for $70,500 at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) convention this year.

It was a breakout year for…

Polymer ten

Collectors have gone wild for low-numbered British polymer notes 

Collectors’ response to the new British polymer notes has been nothing short of rapturous. Following on from the auction of some low-numbered £5 notes last year, Spink offered a collection of low-numbered £10s.

Serial #AA01 000010 was the headliner, achieving a final bid of £7,200 ($9,500).

It was a year to forget for…                               

While they’re not technically coins per se, this year we’re probably not alone in wishing we’d invested in Bitcoin before it really took off. 

It just goes to show, you never know.

One you may have missed

Tyrant collection Goldberg

Ptolemy IV is one of the tyrants to feature in the collection

The Tyrant Collection, the world’s most valuable private coin collection, was revealed this year.

The mystery owner has assembled an unparalleled selection of coins linked to absolute rulers across the ages.

It’s set to go on display at the Long Beach Expo in February.

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