NGC Certifies Classic South American Gold Rarity

Posted on 10/12/2009

The unique Ecuador 1862 50 Francos will be auctioned in January as part of Heritage’s Signature World Coin Auction in New York. Read on for more details.

NGC recently certified the unique Ecuador 1862 50 Francos struck in gold. This classic rarity of 19th-century South American coinage is an experimental denomination that conforms to the European coinage standards of the era. It is graded NGC AU 55.

The coin first appeared in published texts in 1956, offered by Robert Friedberg in the November issue of The Numismatist from that year. Scholars believe that he acquired the coin from the Virgil Brand estate. After four more auction appearances between 1957 and 1976, it was sold into a private collection where it has remained since.

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Although originally listed in Standard Catalog of World Coins as “unique” alongside the regular issue coinage of Ecuador, it was re-catalogued as a pattern coin in 1986, and this reference number is provided on the NGC certification holder. Although its exact origin and occasion for issue are uncertain, a related 5 Francos silver coin was struck for circulation in Ecuador in 1858. That coin contained 25 grams of 900 fine silver — identical weight and fineness to the 5 Francs and other crown-sized European silver coinage.

Some speculate that the coin was produced at the Paris Mint because an “A” mintmark appears beneath the bust of Bolivar. The quality of die engraving, however, seems incompatible with the superior work of Albert Desire Barre, who engraved for the Paris mint at the time, and best evidence suggests that dies were executed in Ecuador. The coin’s obverse shows a profile bust of South American liberator Simón Bolívar, and the reverse displays the coat of arms of Ecuador, above QUITO, the capital city and location of Ecuador’s mint.

After being off the market for three and a half decades, this coin will be auctioned on January 3–4, 2010, as part of Heritage’s Signature World Coin Auction in New York.

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