A 75-year-old British silver threepence realized nearly $110,000 Cdn. – more than double its pre-sale estimate – in an online-only auction presented by Baldwin’s of St. James’s earlier this week.
Offered March 25, the 1945 coin was recently discovered in an ordinary Whitman coin folder and brought to Baldwin’s of St. James’s headquarters in London, England, inside a plastic flip holder.
It is only the second example known to numismatists and was certified as Mint State-63 prior to its sale by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).
The silver threepence denomination was originally unpopular in circulation because of its small diameter of 16 millimetres and weight of 1.4 grams.
A larger, heavier, 12-sided nickel-brass threepence was introduced in 1937 and minted each year until 1945, with peak production of almost eight million in both 1940 and in 1941.
The 1942-44 issues were all shipped to the British West Indies, however, and the coin’s final issue was apparently deemed redundant because of public acceptance of the 12-sided nickel-brass coin.
All of the 1945 silver threepence were ordered to be melted (and their metal used in other mint products).
Only one other surviving example has crossed the auction block. In April 1970, England’s Glendining & Co. offered an example described as About Very Fine that realized £260 (about £4,000 in today’s money).
Its buyer is unknown, and that original example has yet to resurface publicly since the auction half a century ago.