Collector, 8, unearths 1858 large cent along Lake Huron coast

By Jesse Robitaille

A recently retired dealer hopes the 1858 large cent his eight-year-old grandson unearthed while hiking along the Lake Huron shoreline will spark a lifelong interest in numismatics.

The story harkens back to 1954, when 10-year-old Ross King found a century-old coin while digging in the garden of his family’s farm in rural Egremont Township, about 80 kilometres north of Kitchener in Southwestern Ontario. King pulled up an 1854 Bank of Upper Canada penny, which “ignited a 68-year numismatic adventure,” he said. Ross began focusing on British coins in the late 1970s, running his business for about 40 years before selling his inventory in 2020. He auctioned his collection through an English firm last year.

“Perhaps Elliott’s discovery will do the same and encourage him to follow in his grandpa’s footsteps.”

Earlier this fall, numismatic luck struck the King family once again as his grandson Elliott found an 1858 cent near Goderich, Ont. The scarce coin could be worth upwards of $100, according to the elder King, who described it as a “good, solid VG (Very Good)” example with visible details.

“After sitting in the sand, it’s not the smoothest surface, but it’s still good,” said the former long-time dealer.

From present-day Canada’s first decimal issue, the 1858 copper cent entered circulation in the Province of Canada alongside silver five-, 10- and 20-cent coins. The cent’s CCN Trends listing features two main varieties – the common medal alignment and the far more expensive coinage alignment.

While there’s no CCN Trends valuation for the coinage alignment variety in VG-8, its Fine-12 valuation is $2,500 – about 20 times higher than its medal alignment counterpart.

The young King’s discovery is the medal alignment variety.

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