Undiscovered for 50 years: Rare 1796 U.S. Liberty Cap Half-Cent coin sells for over $350,000
In mint condition, the small and rare 1976 Liberty Cap Half-Cent that lay undiscovered for about 50 years at the back of a cupboard in a home-made cardboard trays and a ‘cabinet’ fashioned out of matchboxes, and came to light recently during a clear out of boxes of what was thought to be junk, has now been sold for eye-watering for $358,000, to become one of the world’s most expensive coin. At a small provincial auction held in southwest England by Woolley and Wallis of Salisbury, England, this small pure-copper coin which is one of only 1,390 minted that year at the Philadelphia Mint, was bought by the Numismatic Financial Corporation, a Florida-based coin seller. Interestingly, in 1796 the Philadelphia Mint was busy producing the first gold coinage of Five and Ten Dollar piece and the Half-Cent didn’t receive much attention, thus there has always been a rarity of these coins in the collectors market. As per the auctioneer, only a few dozen coins of its kind are known to be in existence today, and less than 10 are in such an original condition.
This particular coin however has no early pedigree, but was collected by Mark Hillary, when a school boy, some 55 years ago or more. With a hobby of coin collecting, Mark was a brilliant scholar who unfortunately died in a climbing accident in Greece at the age of 20 in 1963. The deceased brother then brought this exceptional find to the local auction house for sale.
As per the auctioneer, the lesser coin that must have formed Mark’s original school-time coin collection actually came to Britain, as the country was the natural place for sought-after copper coinage and copper trade tokens of the former colony America, where there was no local collecting market.