Published: January 15, 2019
ORLANDO, FLA. — The standing-room-only crowd at Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night US Coin Auction on January 10 roared with laughter and applause after Dell Loy Hansen bested more than 30 bids to make hobby history: The finest-known 1885 trade dollar — among the rarest and most enigmatic issues in all of American coinage — sold for $3,960,000, with the winning bid cast by collector Dell Loy Hansen of Logan, Utah.
“Owning an 1885 trade dollar is a privilege reserved for only the most elite numismatists, and owning the finest-known specimen is to own an enduring symbol of numismatic and American history,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions.
Graded PR66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the example offered by Heritage carries an impressive pedigree that includes collectors William Cutler Atwater, Louis Eliasberg — and now, Dell Loy Hansen. So rare is an 1885 trade dollar that none of the great institutional collections at the Smithsonian, the American Numismatic Society or the American Numismatic Association owns one of the five specimens.
Not alone in garnering 30 bids on Thursday evening, the crowd waited with anticipation as a rare 1943 Lincoln cent — found in a high school teen’s pocket change in 1947 — sold for $204,000. The rarity was mistakenly minted in bronze instead of zinc-coated steel, which was the way the mint was supposed to be saving copper and bronze to fill metal shortages during World War II.
At the time, the United States Mint steadfastly denied such coins existed, until the truth came out in 1947 after teenager Don Lutes found the first bronze Lincoln cent in pocket change from his high school cafeteria in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Only ten to 15 examples of a 1943 bronze Lincoln cent are known to exist.
“This is the first time this coin had ever appeared at auction since Mr Lutes found it when he was 16 years old,” said Sarah Miller, a director of numismatics at Heritage Auctions, who is responsible for bringing the rare coin to auction. “Collectors love obscurities and oddities, so it doesn’t get better than this.”
A full review of the Florida United Numismatics (FUN) auctions will appear in a future issue. For more information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
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