Coin collecting fever hit Baltimore, US, last Thursday and Friday (November 4-5) at Bowers and Merena's November 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo.
Emerging as the top lot at the event was this very rare 1851 Augustus Humbert $50 Gold coin, described as "highly significant" in the seller's lot notes.
The piece is graded "R5" for rarity - which, for the uninitiated, is one below "R6" reserved for extremely rare specimens. Specifically there are just two known examples of this coin in the world, of which this example is the best-preserved.
As well as being rare, both its sides boast extraordinary detail for a Humbert "Slug" with a virtually-full strike, even in the center of the obverse (as pictured).
An expert at Stack's, the coin's previous seller, even went so far as to call this piece "one of the most important and appealing Territorial gold coins from any era that this cataloguer has ever had the privilege of handling."
The coin's handsome olive-orange colour is evident in the above photographs with a bright, satiny texture to the finish. Bowers and Merena billed it as "the finest" 1851 Lettered Edge Humbert $50 of its type, as certified by the PCGS.
According to its condition report, the coin's surface bears no distracting abrasions or any significant rim disturbances. There are a "handful of wispy handling marks on both sides" of the coin, but these are minor for a specimen of its type.
In the end, the coin sold to a private buyer for $316,250 - a sale which numismatists will no doubt speak of in hushed tones for many years to come. Watch this space for our reviews of other highlights from Bowers and Merena's Baltimore sale.
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