U.S. cents top $1.1 million at auction

Two rare U.S. cents—among the first ever struck by the U.S. Mint in 1792—sold for a whopping $1.12 million Cdn. ($869,500 USD) at Heritage Auction’s Aug. 10 sale in Anaheim, Calif.

Selling for more than 43 million times their face value, the coins are among the most historically important coins to come to auction in more than 20 years, according to representatives from the auction house.

“As the first coins produced inside the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, these two coins played an important role in the development of the United States’ monetary system,” said Greg Rohan, Heritage Auctions president.”Interest in these rarities extended well beyond the historical: Both are in excellent condition for their age and type.”

THE COINS

A winning bid of more than $455,00 Cdn. ($352,500 USD) claimed a 1792 “Silver Center” Cent, so named for a small silver plug added to make its intrinsic value equal to its face value. The concept was suggested by U.S. patriot Thomas Paine and endorsed by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to President George Washington. The copper cent is about the size of a modern U.S. quarter.

The second coin—a 1792 Birch Cent—was supposedly engraved by Robert Birch (although this is unconfirmed). The coin is the finer of the two known surviving examples of this experimental design and sold for more than $668,000 Cdn. ($517,000 USD).

According to Heritage Auctions, the five-day sale of rare coins and paper money is expected to bring upwards of $10 million USD.

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