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Bonhams turns 1859 dated $20 coin into $210,000 at Coins and Medals auction
1907 (MCMVII) High Relief $20 Proof 67 NGC. Sold for $222,300 including premium. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Exceeding expectations at the Coins and Medals auction on June 2, the 1859 PCGS Proof 62+ Cameo $20, one of the finest and great rarities in the US Coin Series, was purchased by a salesroom bidder for $210,600, reaching above its high estimated value. The coin was featured as the front cover image of the sale's catalog and was a special item in the Kernochan Family Collection along with the 1795 Small Eagle AU58 PCGS $5 coin, which sold for $57,330. This 1795 issue date marks the premier year that gold coins were struck at the U.S. Mint for half-eagle ($5) as well as eagle ($10) coins.

Another piece that realized a remarkable result was the 1907 (MCMVII) High Relief Proof 67 NGC $20. This high relief double eagle coin is one of the most popular coins ever struck by the United States Mint and is sculptural in appearance and considered to be the most beautiful regular issue gold coin ever produced. The prized item eventually sold to an American collector for $222,400, exceeding the high estimate.

The 368-lot Coins and Medals auction resulted in strong prices, making a total sales of almost $1.2 million and nearly 90% of all lots sold. International interest included countries in Asia, Europe, the U.K., as well as the U.S. Numerous bids were placed through the internet, including the top price in the sale, revealing a growing accessibility to a global audience. Also of notable interest was part 2 of the Champagne Lanson Collection of U.S. Gold Coins, with every single lot finding buyers.

Other highlights include a 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50 Round MS62 PCGS commemorative coin, which fetched $71,370. Commemorative coins are one of the most popular specialities in American numismatics. Of the 1,500 $50 pieces initially struck for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, 1,017 remained unsold and were subsequently melted, leaving a net mintage of just 483 of these coins in existence. It did not take long for these coins to gain premium value, and by the 1920's, the $50 coin was in high demand and even more so today.

A quarter eagle 1806/5 $2.5 7x6 Stars AU58 PCGS also reached a final offer of $64,350, and according to John Dannreuther's book, "Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties," he states that this particular issue date is "one of the rarest of the early quarter eagles." Further successful results were achieved for an 1870 MS61 PCGS $20 coin (sold for $22,230) and an 1867-S AU58 PCGS $20 coin (sold for $15,210, more than twice its high estimate).

Regarding the results of the auction, Paul Song, Bonhams Director of Coins and Banknotes comments, “Despite some pockets of weakness related to the recent drop in the price of gold, we were still exceptionally pleased with selling the majority of the extreme rarities in this auction, including the 1859 Proof $20 from the Kernochan Family Collection and the 1907 Proof High Relief $20. We were also humbled and gratified by Champagne Lanson’s continued support in their consignment of the group of $10 Double Eagles in this auction.”

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