A recent auction has left collectors and enthusiasts buzzing with excitement. What was once a humble 50-cent piece from 1838, known as the Cox Specimen, has transformed into a true treasure, fetching an astounding $504,000 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries. This legendary coin, with only 20 in existence, holds a unique secret that adds to its mystique.
Imagine a coin created in the New Orleans Mint in 1838, featuring a woman’s face at its center and a distinctive “O” stamped at the bottom. This “O” symbolizes both the city’s name and the mint that birthed this extraordinary piece. According to CNN, the auction house described it as “a truly legendary coin … that will forever be revered, studied and dreamed about.”
The rarity of the Cox Specimen lies not only in its historical significance but also in its scarcity, with only 20 coins ever made. During its creation, Latin American silver coins were repurposed to craft these half-dollars. The idea was to test a large press, but production faced a pause due to a yellow fever outbreak and technical challenges, leading to a limited number in circulation.
Enthusiastic collectors eagerly sought these coins, and the last known owner of the Cox Specimen, “Colonel” E.H.R. Green, possessed not just one but seven half-dollar coins. After changing hands among various dealers, these rare coins found their way to the auction house, captivating the numismatic world.
Valuation and Rarity:
Currently, eight known coins are owned by different collectors or displayed for public viewing. Each coin holds a unique value based on its grade and “eye appeal,” as explained by Vicken Yegparian, Vice President of Numismatics at the auction house. The market has seen varying prices, with the most expensive half-dollar selling for $763,750 in 2014 and another fetching $444,000 in a Florida auction last January.
While the Cox Specimen is a standout rarity, it’s not the only coin making headlines. The 1933 “Indian Head Gold Eagle” has surprised experts by reaching a value of $600,000, far exceeding its original $10 minting cost. With over 300,000 initially produced, the coin has become scarcer over the years, making it another sought-after gem for collectors.