Unusually Shaped Coins Certified by NGC Featured in Upcoming Heritage Sales

Posted on 12/30/2021

Not all NGC-certified coins comply with the traditional disk shape employed in common coin minting.

Two upcoming sales presented by Heritage Auctions — one for the NYINC show and one for the FUN Show — feature several coins certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) that challenge the commonly held definition of “coin shaped.” The following un-round rarities range in date from 1573 to 1915 and include sought-after examples of siege coins, countermarked coins, commemorative coins and tokens produced in the hope that they would become legal tender.

Gold siege coin from Middelburg, Netherlands

The Dutch War of Independence, also known as the Eighty Years’ War, included a two-year siege of the town of Middelburg in the Netherlands. The siege, which ran from 1572 to 1574, eventually led to surrender when the inhabitants of the city ran out of food and other supplies. The Middelburg siege coins may have been produced to pay soldiers defending the town or to pay contributions to the opposing forces after their victory.

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The Middelburg siege coins were minted in gold and in the shape of a diamond. This example, identified as a Netherlands 1573-dated Kroon (lot #30335 in the NYINC sale), is graded NGC MS 64.

Paraguayan Republic cut and countermarked gold coin

The War of the Triple Alliance, also known as the Paraguayan War, was fought between 1864 and 1870 and pitted Paraguay against an alliance formed by Argentina, Uruguay and the Empire of Brazil. At the start of the war, Paraguay had not yet minted its first national coins and relied on foreign coins to use in commerce. Those foreign coins sometimes were cut into two, four and eight pieces, countermarked, and used by merchants for transactions when smaller denominations were required.

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This Paraguay (c. 1866) Gold 4 Pesos (lot #30344 in the NYINC sale) is one quarter of a Charles IV Spanish Colonial 8 Escudos that is countermarked with a “4” digit on the obverse. Graded NGC VF 30, it is reportedly one of only two known examples of this type of coin, with the other being part of the collection of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires.

Saint Vincent 12 Bitts coin inspired by “holey dollars”

“Holey Dollars” have an interesting history in the coin world. First used in the British settlements of Prince Edward Island and New South Wales in 1813, the coins are produced by punching out the center of a traditional disk-shaped coin, resulting in a small round coin, known as a dump, and a larger ring-shaped coin. The coins from Prince Edward Island and New South Wales were made from Spanish dollars and countermarked. The process was mimicked in British colonies in the Caribbean including Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad and Saint Vincent.

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This Saint Vincent (1811-14) 12 Bitts coin graded NGC VF 35 (lot #30367 in the NYINC sale) was made by punching the center from an 1805 Peruvian Charles IV 8 Reales. It was then countermarked with “S XII” on the obverse to signify its value. Coins like this one were issued in 1811, devalued in 1815 and withdrawn from circulation in 1823. This example is considered very rare due to being made from a Peruvian coin, whereas more commonly, they were made from Mexican coins.

Eight-sided US coin commemorating completion of Panama Canal

In 1915, the US held the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal. To commemorate the event, it issued two $50 gold coins, with similar designs but different shapes. One was minted with a round shape and the other minted with an octagonal shape. The coins were priced at $100 each, which was high enough at the time to discourage sales. As a result, only 483 of the round coins and 645 of the octagonal coins were sold.

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The coin, designed by California native and celebrated sculptor Robert Aitken, features the Roman goddess Minerva on the obverse with an owl on the reverse. Both sides of the octagonal version show eight dolphins ringing the coin, one at each point. It is historic in being the first commemorative US coin to bear the words “In God We Trust,” the first to represent a denomination not issued for circulation and the first to be struck at a branch mint. This example is graded NGC MS 64 (lot #4779 in the FUN Show sale).

Eight-sided Lesher ‘Referendum’ Dollar

Prior to the passage of the US Coinage Act of 1873, anyone holding silver bullion could have it struck into US silver dollar coins that were considered legal tender. After the law was passed, those holding silver bullion found themselves at a major financial disadvantage. Joseph Lesher, a Colorado silver miner, was one of those people.

In 1900, Lesher decided to issue a “referendum” on the silver issue by taking the unprecedented step of establishing his own mint in Victor, Colorado, and producing tokens that have come to be known as Lesher Dollars. His vision was to “refer” the issue of silver currency’s utility to the people, letting them vote by their acceptance or rejection of his dollars. This example is graded NGC MS 65 (lot #4304 in the FUN Show sale).

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It is believed that as many as 3,000 Lesher Dollars were minted, but far fewer saw circulation during the short-lived experiment. A collection of 20 Lesher Dollars, which constituted the most complete set known among collectors, was graded by NGC and sold at auction by Kagin’s in early 2020, with the top lot realizing $84,000. More information on those Lesher Dollars and a gallery of images can be found here.

Connect with NGC at both upcoming shows

Collectors in New York and Florida have the opportunity to connect with experts from NGC and submit coins for grading during both of these shows. The NYINC will take place January 13-16, 2022, at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City. More details on speakers, admission discounts and the types of submissions NGC will be accepting can be found here.

NGC will also be on hand at the 67th FUN Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, on January 6-9, 2022. To find out about expedited grading services available at the event, click here.

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