Who says a penny wont buy much these days? A 1958-dated Lincoln cent mistakenly made with doubling in some letters of the design has sold for a record $1,136,250. It was owned by a New York City collector who died soon after consigning his pristine condition coins to be sold at auction.
The million-dollar penny is known as a doubled die and it is the finest of only three known 1958 U.S. cents that have severe doubling of letters in the motto IN GOD WE TRUST and the word LIBERTY on the front of the coin, explained Ian Russell, president of GreatCollections
of Irvine, California.
It was owned by numismatist and sculptor Stewart Blay of New York who died at age 71 in November. His set of 276 mint-condition Lincoln cents dating back to 1909 with a combined face value of only $2.76 sold for $7,731,811 in a series of six auctions by GreatCollections that ended on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
A total of 117 bids were placed for the mismade 1958 penny. The winning bidder was described by Russell as an advanced collector who needed this coin to complete his collection.
Doubled dies occur when the metal die used to make coins is incorrectly struck twice, resulting in all coins minted with that die to appear double-struck.
In addition to setting an auction record for the first million-dollar Lincoln cent, 13 other superb-condition pennies in Mr. Blays painstakingly-assembled collection sold for record six-figure prices, ranging from $120,937 for a 1911 cent to $601,875 for one of the approximately 50 known doubled die cents made in 1969 at the San Francisco Mint, said Russell.
My brother began collecting coins when he was eight years old and started assembling the finest known collection of early Lincoln cents about 50 years ago, explained Blays sister, Mariette Blay of Oregon. He was extremely proud of what became known as the Red Copper Collection and many of the pennies were exhibited at coin shows.
Stewart Blay spent decades traveling the country, visiting coin shops and coin shows on his quest for the very best, while also sharing his knowledge with fellow collectors and dealers, said Russell. He spent his life procuring the absolute best-of-the-best Lincoln cents and they were very well received by collectors. It might be another generation before these coins appear on the market again.