A Record-Breaking Auction for the Confederate Half Dollar
An 1861 Confederate half dollar stole the show at the recent Heritage auction, part of the renowned Eric P. Newman Collection. The rare coin was sold for an impressive $960,000, setting a new record for a Confederate half dollar at auction. This extraordinary outcome highlights the continued allure of numismatics and the value collectors place on historical artifacts.
Supporting Scholarship through the Newman Collection
The two sessions of the Newman IX auction held on November 3 resulted in a remarkable total of nearly $60 million in sales. Eric P. Newman, a distinguished numismatist from St. Louis, has decided to sell his collection to support the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society’s ongoing museum operations and fund scholarly research in the field of numismatics. This auction serves as a testament to the depth and diversity of Newman’s interests as reflected in the more than 400 lots on offer.
A Fascinating Piece of History
The 1861 Confederate half dollar featured in the sale holds immense historical significance. It is one of just four coins struck in April 1861 at the New Orleans Mint while under the Confederacy’s control. Heritage, the auction house, describes it as one of the rarest and most enigmatic issues in American coinage history. The fact that these coins were not only owned by esteemed collectors but also government officials, soldiers, and businessmen further adds to their appeal and cultural value.
Newman’s Confederate Half Dollar
Newman’s Confederate half dollar, graded Proof 40 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), made its first public appearance at auction after staying off the market for almost eight decades. Newman initially acquired the coin in 1938 from the estate of Col. E.H.R. Green, purchasing it for a mere $4,000. The high-quality preservation of this coin is evident from the green Certified Acceptance Sticker affixed to its NGC holder, indicating its exceptional quality within the assigned grade.
A Noteworthy Confederate Cent
In addition to the Confederate half dollar, another highlight of the auction was an 1861 Confederate States of America cent. This remarkable coin, graded Proof 63+ by NGC and also sporting a green CAC sticker, achieved a final price of $186,000. The 16 Confederate cents struck by die sinker Robert Lovett have a fascinating history. Although the striking of these coins lacks official documentation, they were expertly crafted and have been a topic of intrigue amongst numismatists for years.
Enigmatic Origins of the Confederate Cents
The circumstances surrounding the creation of the Confederate cents remain somewhat mysterious. Without official records, it is believed that Lovett struck these coins for demonstration purposes in the early part of 1861. The bust on the coin matches Lovett’s previous store card design, aiding in the identification of Lovett as the designer. These cents were never widely produced, and one theory suggests that Lovett grew apprehensive about producing coins for the Confederacy as tensions escalated and laws were implemented to prevent commerce between the North and the South.
The Legacy of the Newman Collection
Newman’s Confederate cent, like his half dollar, was acquired from the Green estate for a modest $100. This collection has attracted attention not only for its historical significance but also for its contribution to scholarship and research efforts. The Newman IX auction showcases the dedication of collectors, the value they place on preserving numismatic heritage, and the enthusiasm surrounding these rare and intricate coins.