January 8, 2012 in Nation/World

No penny ante bid: $1.38 million for coin

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

This 1793 “Chain Cent” sold for a record $1,380,000 at a public auction in Orlando, Fla., last week.
(Full-size photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A one-cent copper coin from the earliest days of the U.S. Mint in 1793 has sold for a record $1.38 million at a Florida auction.

James Halperin of Texas-based Heritage Auctions told the Associated Press on Saturday that the sale was “the most a United States copper coin has ever sold for at auction.” The coin was made at the Mint in Philadelphia in 1793, the first year that the U.S. made its own coins.

Heritage officials said the name of the buyer was not revealed but that he was “a major collector.”

Halperin said there remain a few hundred 1793 coins in different conditions, but that the one auctioned off Wednesday night is rare because it wasn’t in circulation.

Officials say it shows no wear on its lettering, its Lady Liberty face or the chain of 13 linking rings on its back.

“This coin is known as a ‘Chain Cent’ because the central design on the back is a chain of 13 linking rings. It represented the solidarity of the 13 original colonies, but some critics claimed the chain was symbolic of slavery, and the design was quickly changed from rings to a wreath,” Halperin said in the news release.

Halperin said the auction had $60 million in transactions. The show runs through today.

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