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Gold coin treasure from prominent French champagnery highlights June auction at Bonhams
1861 $20 MS61 PCGS. Estimate: $ 4,000 - 5,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams announced the sale of The Champagne Lanson Bonnet Vineyard Collection of $20 Gold Coins during its June 2013 auction of Rare Coins and Medals in Los Angeles. The well-publicized discovery occurred in France last February by chance when, according to the vineyard, several of the coins rained down on a worker remodeling a former grape-drying facility.

The Collection features 497 gold US coins minted between 1851 and 1928 with an approximate value of $1 million. The coins have been untouched for nearly a century and range in condition from Very Fine to Choice Mint State. It is unknown how the coins found their way to the attic in the eastern village of Les Riceys, France, but the building was owned by a wine producer who traded with the US and England in the 1930s.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams, said of the auction, “Bonhams is extremely pleased to be working with The Lanson-BCC Group on this auction. With many coin collections typically found in bank vaults, we are excited to bring this new, uniquely discovered treasure to auction. Our Bonhams Paris Office was instrumental in working closely with the consignor, Lanson-BCC Group, parent company to Alexandre Bonnet Champagne among others, to ensure that the Collection will be presented and sold at auction in the US as a newly discovered treasure. As well, we are delighted that the auction of the coins will not only promote the name of the Lanson Group Champagne brands in the US but that half of the proceeds from the auction will go to the individual who discovered the coins in the house. The vineyard has described him as a modest employee of the Lanson firm, who brought the Collection to the attention of the company not knowing that he would be entitled to half of the proceeds under French law. According to the vineyard, this anonymous individual will now be able to buy or build a house for his family with the auction proceeds.”

Bonhams is also delighted to be offering numerous other United States and world coin rarities in its June 3, 2013 Rare Coins and Medals to be held at Bonhams Los Angeles. Among notable highlights are a rare mint state silver dollar in pristine condition from the late colonial era, a 1795 Flowing Hair $1 3 Leaves Silver Dollar (est. $75,000-85,000). A 1813 $5 MS64 PCGS is another stunning mint state coin from the federal period, albeit struck in gold (est. $48,000-55,000). The most valuable lot in the auction is another colonial gold coin, an extremely rare 1798/7 $10 Stars 9x4 MS61 NGC, which is among the finest known of this date and variety (est. $130,000-140,000).

The world coin section is also replete with some classic and extremely rare items from a private collection, with several lots reflecting the incredible strength of the marketplace for rare coins from Asia, particularly from China and Korea. Two Chinese Gold 500 Yuan coins, one for the Year of the Dog dated 1994, and the latter for the Year of the Ox, dated 1997 will be on offer (est. $50,000-70,000 and $100,000-150,000, respectively). Each coin contains 5 oz of pure gold, and is each from a mintage of only 99 pieces total each. Also up for auction, a rare 1970 Six Piece Gold Proof Set from South Korea (est. $25,000-30,000).

The auction’s cover lot, an extraordinary English coin by the famed William Wyon is arguably one of the finest designs ever created for any coinage (est. $40,000-50,000). It features one of the most beautiful designs ever created of Una and the Lion, with a portrait of a young Queen Victoria on one side, and with Victoria leading the Lion, symbolic of Britain, on the reverse.

Bonhams auction of Coins & Medals, including the Lanson Bonnet Vineyard Collection, will take place on June 3 in Los Angeles. The auction will preview at Bonhams from May 31-June 3.

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