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Heads up for gold coins in numismatic auction Oct. 1

U.S. gold coins stand out in a Jasper52 online numismatic auction that will be conducted on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The highlight of the 87-lot sale is a brilliant uncirculated 1878 Liberty Head $20 double eagle. The auction catalog also contains proof sets, silver certificates and commemoratives.

1878 U.S. Liberty Head $20 double eagle gold, BU++. Estimate: $3,000-$3,500. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

The Origin of Money: From Cowrie Shells to Bitcoin

Before there were organized monetary systems, there was barter and trade. Some sources report evidence of compensation exchange in cultures dating back as far as 10,000 years ago. People with the ability to fish would connect with those who cultivated and harvested crops to exchange commodities. While this form of trade was useful for many societies, it wasn’t without challenges. One of those challenges was finding a consistent party with whom to barter and trade the materials a person was capable of bringing to the table. Another challenge was the amount of time it could take to complete an exchange of goods – especially if one side of the exchange was dependent on crops that required many months to reach the point of harvest. Also, there was the question of how to value the commodities on both sides so there could be a fair exchange.

Long strand of chain link probably used as a form of currency, Roman Empire, circa 2nd-4th century AD. Measures 36 inches long x 1 inch wide. Sold by Artemis Gallery for $450 in September 2017. LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Artemis Gallery image

People living near the sea – the Pacific and Indian Oceans, primarily – took a different approach, implementing cowrie shells from sea snails as an accepted form of currency. It’s believed that the brightly patterned cowrie shell is one of the longest-tenured forms of currency anywhere. The first indication of its use dates to 1,200 BC. Even after the introduction of gold coins as a form of currency, some civilizations opted to continue using cowrie shells.

Restrung Viking necklace of assorted green glass beads with two cowrie-shell pendants and three silver coins on loops, circa 9th-12th century AD, sold for $237 at TimeLine Auctions’ September 2016 sale. TimeLine Auctions, Ltd. image

The leap from cowrie shells to metal monies first took place in China. Archeological discoveries have uncovered various specimens of primitive coins. This evolution within early Chinese culture is said to have been inspired by people initially exchanging tools and weapons. This led to the inventive idea of creating small replicas of these items for a safer and easier method of exchange. Ultimately, the small replicas, some with sharp edges, were cast aside in favor of circular discs, often made of copper and bronze. Sometimes a hole was bored into the coins, to allow them to be placed together on a chain. This was the earliest identifiable example of what is considered early coinage. However, it was in Lydia (modern-day Turkey) that the gold-and-silver allow electrum, along with a process of stamping, turned out the first batch of precious metal coins.

Ancient copper sestertius (Roman coin) of Emperor Antoninus Pius, scarce and occasionally issued during the Roman Empire. Offered with $200-$350 estimate in Jasper52 Sept. 30 Ancient Roman Coins Auction. LiveAuctioneers.com and Jasper52 image

Although it was at King Alyattes of Lydia’s direction that such coins were produced in the late 7th century, it was Greece that capitalized on the innovation. As Wayne G. Sayles states in the book Ancient Coin Collecting, “… the rise of Greek culture and the development of coinage as a form of artistic and political expression go hand in hand. The study of numismatics, from the 7th to the 3rd centuries BC, is really an exploration of Greek civilization.”

Two plaques containing examples of shell wampum and trade beads; part of a 5-piece lot of Native American beadwork objects that was sold by Cordier Auctions for $100 in February 2016. Cordier Auctions & Appraisals image

While the Greeks, followed by the Romans, were focusing their attention on producing coins made of silver, bronze, and gold, 7th-century China was changing things by developing paper money. Early on, these notes would be exchanged for coins. A trusted source would issue the person transferring the coins a note indication the amount of coins that were deposited, and at a later date, the holder of the note could redeem their currency. While paper banknotes were used within the Chinese culture for more than 500 years, the excess production of notes prompted a decline in value and a rise in inflation. This led to the beginning of the end of paper-money use in China, in 1455. It would be another three centuries before paper currency would return to the Chinese market. As is often the case, everything old becomes new again if you wait long enough. Such was the case with shell currency. Wampum – strings of beads made from clamshells and used as both a form of adornment and a form of currency – was used by Native American peoples. There is evidence of wampum’s use in the mid-16th century, and perhaps earlier.

Another unique example of currency could be found in late 17th-century French colonies in Canada. French soldiers were presented with playing cards bearing various denominations and the signature of a governor to be used as currency in lieu of coins.

1815 $20 TN-12 Remainder note, PCGS New 62PPQ, rarer than similar $5 and $10 notes, sold for $18,800 in a Heritage auction held in April 2015. Heritage Auctions image

Money continues its evolution today, with governments around the world minting and printing coins and currency daily. In addition, the 21st century has also seen increasing use of electronic transactions and digital currency. And at the same time, the cycle seems to have come full circle, as there are examples of a new generation utilizing the ancient principles of barter and trade.

Empty Your Change Purse For This Coin Auction

An impeccable collection of coins has been curated for this weekend’s first-ever coin and bullion auction on Jasper52. This diverse sale spans decades and continents, with specimens from Imperial Russia, Bourbon Spain, and ancient Rome, and includes many rare examples from throughout the history of the United States.

We’ve selected a few highlights from the collection to set your eyes (and wallets) on:

One of the standouts from this collection is an extremely rare 1895-S Morgan silver dollar estimated at $6,600-$13,200.

1895-S Morgan $1 PCGS AU53, rare. Estimate: $6,600-$13,200. Jasper52 image

 

One of the earliest and finest U.S. coins in the sale is a rare 1799 13-Star Bust dollar graded PCGS F12, which is expected to sell for $5,300-$10,600.

Rare 1799 Bust Dollar PCGS F12. Estimate: $5,300-$10,600. Jasper52 image

 

On the flip side (see what we did there?), well-circulated example of the same 1799 silver dollar is estimated at $2,900-$5,700.

1799 13 Star Draped Bust dollar. Estimate: $2,900-$5,700. Jasper52 image

 

A rare oddity in this collection is a 1955 Double Die Lincoln Cent, which is expected to sell for $3,500-$7,000. The die is the device that imprints an image on blank coins, and a double die coin is one that was struck by a die that was accidentally engraved with a double image.

1955 Double Die Lincoln Cent, rare. Estimate: $3,500-$7,000. Jasper52 image

 

Gold coins in this sale include a 1910-D $10 U.S. Indian Head gold piece, and an 1856 $3 U.S. Princess gold piece.

RIGHT: 1910-D $10 U.S. Indian Head gold coin. Estimate: $2,100-$4,100. Jasper52 image
LEFT: 1856-S $3 U.S. Princess gold coin. Estimate: $1,700-$3,300. Jasper52 image

 

The entire collection of coins consists of 125 lots. Click here to view the full collection and register to bid in this exciting auction.