coin collection began with rare penny November 19, 2013
Missouri coin collection
sold for $23M at NYC auction began with rare penny.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A rare
St. Louis coin collection that sold for more than $23 million
at a two-day New York City auction can be traced to when
the collection's 102-year-old owner received an 1859 one-cent
piece more than nine decades ago from his grandfather.
Retired St. Louis lawyer Eric P. Newman
only paid about $7,500 for the 1,800 piece collection of
early American coins that sold for much more at the auction.
Most of the coins had been off the market for 50 years.
Auctioneer Jim Halperin said the items represent just one-third
of Newman's total collection.
Another auction of foreign coins is planned
for January and is expected to garner at least $10 million,
Proceeds from both sales will go toward
supporting the nonprofit Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education
Society. The society operates the Newman Money Museum, which
is part of the Kemper Art Museum at Washington University
in St. Louis. Newman is a 1935 law graduate of the school.
"His feeling was that it would be a
win-win situation of having these wanted items back in the
hands of collectors who appreciate them, not just sitting
in bank vaults," said Andy Newman, a trustee of his
centenarian father's charitable foundation.
The auctioned items included a 1795 U.S.
silver dollar in almost pristine condition that sold for
$910,625 and another one from 1799 that sold for $822,500.
A rare quarter-dollar from 1796, the first year the denomination
was produced by the U.S. Mint, sold for $1,527,500 —
compared to the $100 initially paid by Newman.
Halperin, co-chairman of Dallas-based Heritage
Auctions, called Newman one of the world's most accomplished
numismatists, or professional coin collectors. He's written
at least five well-received books and countless articles
on the topic in a journey that began with a present from
his grandfather when Newman was just seven.
Much of his recently-sold collection was
obtained in the 1930s from the estate of a colorful collector,
Col. E.H.R. Green, whose wealthy mother, Hetty Green, was
known as "The Witch of Wall Street."
"He helped invent it. He saw the future
before anybody," Halperin said of Newman's early forays
into collecting coins. "He really predicted what future
tastes would be like."