NGC-graded 'Holy Grail' Modern Greek Coin Realizes More than $1.1 Million, Setting Record

Posted on 3/26/2024

Seven other coins from the NGC-certified El Greco Collection realized prices greater than $100,000 in a March sale presented by auction houses Nomos AG and A. Karamitsos.

A seldom-seen pattern certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company® (NGC®) has realized more than $1.1 million, setting a record for any coin from the modern Greek state, which began in the early 19th century. The coin was the centerpiece of the El Greco Collection of Modern Greek Rarities, a group of nearly 300 coins that were offered in a Nomos AG auction in Switzerland on March 23, 2024. A. Karamitsos, a Greece-based auction house, presented the sale in association with Nomos.

The strong results were led by a coin the auction houses referred to as "the Holy Grail of Modern Greek Coins": a Greece 1852 Gold Pattern 20 Drachmai graded NGC MS 62 (lot 126). It realized CHF1,041,250 (about $1.16 million), well above its pre-auction estimate of CHF625,000 (about $700,000).

Click images to enlarge.

The coin's obverse shows King Otto, a Bavarian prince who was chosen as the first monarch of the Greek state and went on to rule for 30 years. The only one of its kind in the NGC Census, this coin is one of just three (from an original mintage of 16) that are available to private collectors, according to the auction houses.

“This ultra-rarity is at the pinnacle of modern Greek coinage, and bidders seemed well-aware that it could be years, or possibly decades, before a similar opportunity presents itself,” said Ben Wengel, Senior Grading Finalizer of World Coins for NGC. “By giving bidders peace of mind, the NGC Guarantee of authenticity and grade helps coins like the ones from this impressive collection maximize their potential at auction.”

Also turning heads in the sale was a Greece 1875 Gold Essai 100 Drachmai (lot 159) graded NGC PF 63 Ultra Cameo, which realized CHF490,000 (about $546,000), more than double its pre-auction estimate. The coin shows Otto's successor, King George I, who ruled for a half century beginning in 1863. Fewer than five examples are known to exist, according to the auction houses.

Click images to enlarge.

Meanwhile, a Greece 1915 Gold Essai Drachma graded NGC PF 65 (lot 199) realized CHF232,750 (about $259,000). The coin shows Constantine, who took the throne upon his father's assassination in 1913; his two stints as king were both relatively short. This coin, struck amid the economic and political turmoil that engulfed Europe during World War I, stands alone in the NGC Census.

Click images to enlarge.

Other highlights from the El Greco Collection in this auction included:

  • a Greece 1845 5 Drachmai graded NGC MS 63 (lot 95), which realized CHF196,000 (about $218,000)
  • a Greece 1875 Gold Essai 50 Drachmai graded NGC PF 61 Ultra Cameo (lot 157), which realized CHF171,500 (about $191,000)
  • a Greece 1876A 100 Drachmai graded NGC MS 61 (lot 170), which realized CHF171,500 (about $191,000)
  • a Greece 1869 Gold Essai 20 Drachmai graded NGC PF 66 Cameo (lot 146), which realized CHF104,125 (about $116,000)
  • a Greece 1960 Gold 20 Drachmai graded NGC PF 66 Cameo (lot 213), which realized CHF91,875 (about $102,000)
  • a Greece 1869 E Gold 5 Drachmai graded NGC PF 65 Cameo (lot 144), which realized CHF82,687 (about $92,000)
  • a Greece 1869 E Gold 10 Drachmai graded NGC PF 65 Cameo (lot 145), which realized CHF79,625 (about $89,000)
  • a Greece 1876A 20 Drachmai graded NGC PF 66 Cameo (lot 167), which realized CHF73,500 (about $82,000)
  • a Greece 1868 E Silver Drachma graded NGC PF 64 (lot 133), which realized CHF73,500 (about $82,000)
  • a Greece 1915 Silver Essai 2 Drachmai graded NGC PF 62 (lot 200), which realized CHF73,500 (about $82,000)

Prices realized include buyer's premium. The $ symbol represents US Dollars. Estimates are provided by the auction house.

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