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Gold rush at Bonhams Coins Sale in New York
1915-S $50 Round MS64 PCGS and a 1915-S $50 Octagonal MS63 NGC from a Five Piece Panama-Pacific Commemorative Gold Set with Copper Frame of Issue. Sold $175,500. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams Coins and Medals sale, featuring the Robbins Collection of US Gold Coins, on December 17 sold an incredible 96% by lot and 97% by value, with total sales of nearly $1.6 million. Both established numismatists and emerging collectors vied for the rarities at the Madison Avenue saleroom, with international clients joining the excitement live online and via the telephone.

“We are delighted with the results of this late December auction, held in our flagship New York galleries. The entire sale was extremely well received and virtually all the lots had multiple bids on them. The combination of the freshness and quality of the material, along with the provenance of the pieces, contributed to the truly exceptional results," said Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams.

The top lot from the Robbins Collection was also the auction's top lot: a Five Piece Panama-Pacific Commemorative Gold Set, still in its original copper frame, which sold for $175,500. Commemorative coins are one of the most popular specialties in American numismatics, and examples from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco are highly prized. By the early 1920's the coins were already going for a premium, especially the $50 coins, since the Exposition's numismatic concession manager had the unsold $50 pieces returned to the mint and melted shortly after the event. The splendid set offered on December 17 featured both a round $50 piece and an octagonal $50 piece, and was purchased by the collector in 1915 at the Exposition itself.

Pattern coins were also snapped up by bidders, including two 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas. A Proof 62 Cameo NGC brought $146,250, while a Proof 61 NGC achieved $117,000. Both examples have been graded Brilliant Proof by NGC. The strong results for the two Stellas come on the heels of Bonhams historic sale of the Tacasyl collection in September, which saw an 1880 Coiled Hair Stella sell for a record $2,574,000, among other remarkable results.

One of the earliest coins ever issued in colonial America, a $10 9 Leaves Reverse coin from 1795, was another highlight, reaching $111,150. Struck at a time when gold coins were considered ambassadors of American culture, it is so named for the nine-leaf branch featured on the back of the coin. The following year, it was redesigned with a branch of 11 leaves, making the nine-leaf variety extraordinarily rare. Today, there are approximately 20 examples known.

Complete results for the Coins and Medals sale on December 17, featuring the Robbins Collection of US gold coins, can be found at

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