Coins market: 2012 auction review

With the price of gold remaining strong, interest from gold investors has been reflected across the rare coins sector, resulting in keen competition among coin collectors and bullion buyers. 

As ever, the market was dominated by US coins, with superb sales of some of the most beautiful and rarest pieces in the nation's numismatic history. However, it is ancient world coins that have seen the most spectacular results, despite auctions being fewer and farther between.

Top sale

Pantikapaion gold stater
In stunning condition, the stater is the most important coin to have survived from the ancient world

  • At the very beginning of the year - January 5 - a Pantikapaion gold stater from the illustrious Prospero Collection sold for an impressive $3.8m, breaking all world records for an ancient Greek coin at auction. The spectacular piece depicts the head of a satyr and is considered one of the most important coins to have survived from the ancient world.

New records in 2012 

Silver Decradrachm of Acragas
The city of Acragas was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 406 BC

  • A silver decradrachm of Acragas beat the world record for a silver Greek coin in October when it sold for $2.5m.
  • The auction record for any Judean coin was broken by a Year 1 prototype shekel, which sold for $1.1m.
  • Australia saw the auction record for any coin from the country set by a George V 1920 Sydney mint gold sovereign, which brought $1.3m in October. The nation's first coin, the Holey Dollar, sold for $425,350 in August to become the most valuable of its type.
  • The Eliasberg 1793 S-4 Chain Cent became the most valuable US copper coin ever sold at auction when it made $1.3m in January.
  • The auction record for the most valuable coin ever found on US soil was set by a 1652 New England sixpence - discovered in a New York potato field - that brought $431,250 to regain its title.

It was a breakout year for…

1920 Sydney mint sovereign
Australia's most valuable coin

  • Australian coins. With the two record breaking sales mentioned above, Australia's early coinage has made more than one rare appearance on Paul Fraser Collectibles' news service. Heritage Auctions' World Paper Money sale in September was also highlighted by a rare set of Australian Commonwealth banknotes, which sold for $21,150 each.

A year to forget for…

  • The earliest known Saudi gold dinar. Described as "arguably the most important coin ever struck in the Arabian Peninsula" by the auction house, it sold for just $1m. The coin once held the world record for any Islamic coin, after it sold for $6m in 2011.

One you may have missed…

  • A huge gold ingot that was recovered from the wreckage of the legendary SS Central America sold for $891,250 as the top sale of Rarities Night at the 2012 ANA World's Fair of Money in August. 

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock