Early Nobel Prize medal to auction in January

One of the earliest Nobel Prizes is heading to auction in January.

It was awarded to German classicist Theodor Mommsen in 1902, for his writing on the history of the Roman Empire.

Nobel Prize Mommsen

Theodor Mommsen was a German expert on Ancient Roman culture and coinage 

That dates it to one year after the inaugural Nobel ceremony.

Mark Emory, director of European operations at Heritage Auctions, said: “Since the first Nobel Prize gold medals were awarded in 1901, this is one of the earliest, if not the earliest Nobel Prize medals ever offered at public auction.

“Not only is it rare for Nobel Prize gold medals to appear at auction, it is particularly important when one is bestowed on one of humanity’s greatest minds.”

Mommsen was a renowned expert on Roman numismatics and wrote several key texts on the subject. He also founded the important Zeitschrift für Numismatik journal.

As a result this medal is likely to have particular appeal to collectors of ancient coinage. 

It will appear without reserve in Heritage's World Coins Signature Auction in New York on January 7-8, where it's almost certain to sell for a six figure sum.

The record for a Nobel Prize is $4.8m, set for the one awarded to James Watson for his part in the discovery of the DNA helix in 2014.

More recently, physicist Walther Bothe’s 1954 medal made $129,000.

Sotheby's will auction the Nobel Prize awarded to polio vaccine discoverer Frederick Robbins on December 12. It's valued at up to $300,000. 

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