Nearly 600 coins from The Collection of Donald E. Bently, the late founder, owner and CEO of Bently Nevada Corporation, will be sold Thursday, March 20, at the Bently Reserve, in a special single owner catalog by Heritage Auctions
The numismatic world is abuzz about this collection's offering of the ultra-rare 1927-D double eagle, MS63 PCGS, the rarest coin ever minted in Denver and the absolute key among circulation issue Saint-Gaudens double eagles. Only seven coins are definitively known to be available to collectors, with four more residing in museums and an additional two examples not traced for at least the last 40 years. Any offering of this coin is a newsworthy event, in large part because of the seven-figure prices this issue routinely brings at auction.
Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Bently Foundation, which launched this month and was founded by Donald's son, Christopher Bently, CEO of Bently Enterprises and Bently Holdings. Christopher established Bently Foundation as a means to support the communities served by his suite of companies. The San Francisco auction is one among several taking place across the country, and is expected to raise more than $7.5 million for the Foundation.
"My father taught me to be forward thinking and to have vision," said Christopher. "Bently Foundation will be 100% dedicated to nurturing and improving our world, fostering support for organizations, individuals and ideas that align with our core values of cultivating the arts, advancing environmental sustainability and aiding animal welfare. All proceeds from the coin auction will go directly to the Bently Foundation."
Donald Bently was an engineering pioneer whose technology created the foundation of the new Mechanical Engineering discipline of the Diagnostics of Machinery Malfunctions. He instilled values of innovation, sustainability and community engagement into his son Christopher, who will ensure the coins' profits are used toward community initiatives.
"Christopher Bently is selling this father's coin collection to build a new legacy of creativity, sustainability, and animal rights in Bay Area and Nevada communities through Bently Foundation," said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. "Don had a particularly nuanced focus on California Gold Rush, Old West, San Francisco Mint and the Carson City Mint coinage."
The roster of 19th century rarities in the auction, following the 1927-D Double Eagle, is led by a stunning 1830 Templeton Reid quarter eagle, AU55 PCGS, an exceedingly important find from the first private gold coiner in Georgia.
"This historic piece is a relic from the dawn of the American gold rush," said Rohan, "which took place not in California, but near the Appalachian Trail."
Other highlights of the coin collection include an 1841 Liberty quarter eagle, PR53 PCGS, which is a favorite 19th century curiosity among collectors, although one with a controversial history. Dubbed the "Little Princess," the coin does not appear in the 1841 Mint Report, yet experts believe it exists in both proof and business strike examples, with fewer than 20 pieces known.
An 1854-S Liberty quarter eagle, the Discovery Coin for the type, is one of only 12 remaining of 236 pieces struck, while a proof-only 1863 quarter eagle, survives as a scarce coin from a limited mintage of only 30 pieces, of which perhaps 12 to 15 examples survive.
The collection's highly-cultivated selection of gold coins is further reflected in the 1870-CC twenty dollar, AU53 PCGS, the 1864-S ten dollar, AU53 NGC and the elusive 1920-S twenty dollar, MS60 NGC, which escaped an eternity as a gold bar deep within Fort Knox, a fate that befell all but an estimated 75 examples.