The finest collection of Lincoln Cents has been auctioned for $7,731,811 USD by GreatCollections, setting all-time world records, including the first Lincoln Cent to break the million-dollar mark. Thirteen other Lincoln Cents realized over $100,000 each.
The Stewart Blay Collection, also known as “Red Copper”, was meticulously formed over the past 50 years and included the finest examples of Lincoln Cents from 1909 to 1958, with all of the rare doubled die varieties. Doubled dies became famous after the 1955 issue and occur when the hub strikes the working die twice at different positions, resulting in all coins minted with that die appearing with a doubled design.
The 1958 Doubled Die, the finest of only three known, realized $1.136 million and is the first Lincoln Cent to sell at auction for over $1 million (and first non-gold 20th-century coin also to realize seven figures). It was graded and authenticated by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). The winning bidder is an advanced collector who needed this coin to complete their collection. A total of 117 bids were entered by 18 different bidders.
Another rare doubled die variety is the 1969-S, minted in San Francisco. About 50 coins have been discovered to date, with the Blay example being the finest known by a wide margin. Graded PCGS MS66RD, the rarity realized $601,875 after 199 bids were placed.
Regular Lincoln Cents also sold for record amounts. The 1919 graded PCGS MS69RD realized $421,875, while the famous 1909-S VDB Lincoln, tied with about a dozen others at the same grade of PCGS MS67RD, realized $345,375 – more than double the previous auction record. The finest-known 1911 realized $120,937.
Blay, a sculptor from New York, was attracted to Lincoln Cents at eight years old. He spent decades traveling the country, visiting coin shops and shows on his quest for the very best, while also sharing his knowledge with fellow collectors and dealers. He consigned his core collection to GreatCollections several months ago and had expected to see the sales results before he unexpectedly passed away in late November aged 71.
Ian Russell, President and Co-founder of GreatCollections said, “Stewart spent his life procuring the absolute best-of-the-best Lincoln Cents, and they were very well received by the market. Most of these coins were being auctioned for the very first time. It might be another generation before they appear on the market again.”
The 1955 Doubled Die – perhaps the most famous of all varieties of U.S. coins – realized $287,156, which is more than double the previous price record of $124,875, also set by GreatCollections in 2020.
“It was one of our greatest honors to be entrusted with these coins. Special thanks to all of the bidders that turned this special event into a record-breaking auction that will be remembered for decades to come,” continued Russell.
The full prices realized of all 286 Lincoln Cents from the Stewart Blay Collection can be viewed at www.greatcollections.com/blay in the GreatCollections auction archive.
Blay also consigned his collection of Canadian Cents, which are currently being auctioned by GreatCollections over two weeks in February. The collection includes very rare King George V specimen issues.
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GreatCollections, the official auction house of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), specializes in auctioning certified coins and banknotes, handling transactions from start to finish. Since its founding in 2010, GreatCollections has successfully auctioned over one million certified coins, making it one of the leading certified coin companies in the United States, with annual sales in 2022 exceeding $270 million USD. Ian Russell, owner/president of GreatCollections, is a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) and a member of the National Auctioneers Association. For more information about GreatCollections, visit www.greatcollections.com or call 800-442-6467.