Published: April 28, 2017
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — One of only 10 known surviving examples, the 1866 Double Eagle survived an attempted theft, was donated to a Valparaiso church and was sold by Heritage Auctions on April 27, for $517,000, including the buyer’s premium.
An Indiana church’s rare, Nineteenth Century gold coin featuring one of the earliest uses of the motto, In God We Trust, on a US coin, was sold amid spirited bidding during a public auction Thursday night. The auction estimate was $300,000, according to officials of Dallas, Texas-based Heritage Auctions, which conducted the auction in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois, and online.
“This is one of only 10 known surviving 1866 proof Liberty Head double eagles with the In God We Trust motto,” said Sarah Miller, director of numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “It was donated earlier this year to the GracePoint Church in Valparaiso, Indiana, to help the congregation get its own church building. After our experts examined the coin, Heritage wired a $150,000 advance payment to the church so it would not miss a financial deadline for its building project.”
The anonymous donor is a widow whose husband purchased the coin in 1993. She told church Pastor Ben Lamb of GracePoint Church the coin survived an attempted theft at her home four years ago.
The name of the winning bidder was not disclosed, but there was fierce competition between bidders in the room and online, increasing in $20,000 increments until the winner closed in on the $517,000 final bid. The winning bid was cast on HA Live!.
“According to United States Mint records, only 30 proof Liberty double eagles were struck in 1866. Of the ten known surviving specimens three are part of permanent collections, including one in The Smithsonian Institution. The In God We Trust motto first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864, starting with copper two-cent denomination coins, and was used on $20 denomination gold coins starting in 1866,” Rohan said.
GracePoint congregation was founded in 2009 and has been conducting Sunday morning services in an elementary school in Valparaiso. Pastor Ben, as he is referred to by his congregation, earlier said: “This coin is an incredible gift in God’s story. Although this gold piece brought grief to the widow for many years, ultimately it brought incredible joy. It’s ironic that the last few hours before our financial deadline, the congregation had to do exactly what the coin’s motto said over 100 years ago: trust God.”
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