You truly never know what you're going to find at coin shows, flea markets, and swap meets. One famous example of this axiom was when a bona fide original copy of the Declaration of Independence, one of the most cherished documents in existence, was discovered in the back of a picture frame. The frame was purchased for just a few dollars, as neither buyer nor seller had any clue what they had.
Similarly, a silver medal purchased for under $100 in Spain has turned out to be a valuable and sought-after rarity.
East Florida Proclamation
The silver medal in question was struck in 1789 to commemorate the recognition of Spain's King Charles IV as holding dominion over Florida. The event culminated with the colonial governor of East Florida, Vicente Manuel de Zespedes, officially declaring Charles IV the rightful king of that region.
A close investigation of the medal's details confirms that it is a new addition to the record of this design type of East Florida Proclamation silver medal. It is only the sixth known, while an additional three pieces have been recorded in bronze.
Even though the original buyer got the medal for under $100, appraisers were estimating that this rare piece could garner between $12,500 and more than $18,000. However, the medal actually realized £22,000 ($27,667) at auction, cementing its status as a rarity. Its condition was described as "About Very Fine."
Another 18th-Century Medal
At the same auction on December 2nd, another scarce silver medal in high demand was featured. In fact, it was sold in the very next lot after the East Florida Proclamation piece.
The silver medal originated from late-18th-century France and was struck by the Monnaei de Paris (Paris Mint). The medal features Naval Captain John Paul Jones, an American who earned acclaim for capturing the British ship HMS Serapis. It has an interesting historical provenance as well: it was designed and executed by the renowned French coin engraver Augustin Dupré.
The fact that this medal was the work of Dupré no doubt buoyed its collectible value at auction. Dupré is known for helping his counterparts in the fledgling United States with the finer points of engraving and minting coins and medals.
Judged to be in "Extremely Fine" condition, the John Paul Jones medal sold for even more than the previous lot -- £33,000 (about $41,500)!
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.