The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 21, May 20, 2012, Article 18


There's a numismatic literature connection to the 1870-S three dollar gold piece that's been getting some online publicity lately. Stephen Pradier forwarded this article from The Daily Mail. He adds: "A good reason to go through old books." -Editor

Book 1870s gold coin found in

1870s three dollar gold A $3 gold coin is expected to fetch $4 million when it goes up for auction next month. The 1870-S is one of just two ever made and is one of the rarest coins in US history. It was discovered in a San Francisco bookshop in 1997 by a European tourist, who found it glued to the inside pages of a souvenir book.

The collector sat on his unbelievable find for 15 years, before bringing it to auction at the Four Seasons Auction Gallery outside Atlanta, Georgia.

The coin was produced by the San Francisco mint on special order of the mint superintendent, originally meant to be placed in the cornerstone of a building in the city. It was made from a special cast that had a unique 'S' hand-carved into it. The 'S' is what makes the coin so rare.

When the coin in the cornerstone was damaged and removed, a second copy was cast. That duplicate is on display at the American Numismatic Association Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2007, it was valued at $4 million.

Appraisers aren't certain of the origin of the coin that is going on the auction block next month. It could be the original that was taken from the cornerstone of the building. Or, it could be a third copy that was made and never reported.

1870s three dollar god reverse Does anyone recognize the book? Is it a tourist guide? The article calls it "a souvenir book". Nice souvenir. Great story. But does this yarn pass the smell test? Why would a European seller end up consigning a coin like this to U.S. estate auctioneer where it would be sold alongside furniture, cars and baseball cards? And why is the photo of the coin cropped so you can't see the "hand-carved" mint mark that is key to the coin's value? -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Rare $3 gold coin worth $4 MILLION goes on auction... and it was discovered in an old book (

Since I wrote this earlier this week I discovered I'm not the only one questioning this. Dave Harper wrote:

Nowhere in the press information does the auction gallery mention that the coin has been submitted to any experts for authentication and grading.

No PCGS. No NGC. No ANACS. No ICG. There is not even mention of an off-brand XYZ holder.

Instead we are told by the auction house that an unidentified European tourist found it in 1997 in a San Francisco bookstore glued to an inside page of a souvenir book on which appears a story about the San Francisco Mint.

Also, the coin is not currently available for examination. The firm says the coin is insured by Lloyd's of London and will be brought by armed guards from a bank vault to Four Seasons Auction Gallery on June 2 where the coin can be "previewed" only on auction day from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. under armed guard.

After that 90-minute period I guess buyers will be expected to bid for the coin.

I can't help but ask myself that if some unknown discoverer of a supposedly incredibly rare coin or his agent can find Lloyd's of London, he or she could also find Heritage, Stack's Bowers or another prominent American numismatic firm that would submit the coin to all the rigorous examination and testing that these auction houses would insist on before challenging the unique status of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation's 1870-S $3 gold piece housed at the American Numismatic Association's museum in Colorado Springs, Colo.

To read the complete article, see: Like a $3 bill? (

An update from CoinWeek says the item has been removed from auction. It does have a full image of the reverse of coin offered for sale. No one can say for sure if this coins is or isn't what the sellers purport it to be. I would be happy to learn the story is true, for that would make for an interesting new chapter in U.S. numismatic history.

1870s three dollar gold comparison

To read the complete article, see: The Coin Analyst: Extremely Rare 1870-S $3 Gold Coin To Be Auctioned on June 2 in Georgia - Real or Fake? (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS offers Mail Bid Sale No. 16 on June 2, 2012, including: Receipt of purchase by Henry Chapman from Frank H. Stewart, on official Frank H. Stewart letterhead. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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