Million Dollar Penny: Rare 1792 Penny Sells for $1.15M

A rare, experimental penny that is more than 200 years old recently went under the hammer and sold for an astounding $1.15 million.

The rare coin, a 1792 Silver Center penny, was auctioned off Thursday night at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL.

Officials with Heritage Auctions, the company who handled the transaction, say Kevin Lipton of Beverly Hills, California, bought the penny on behalf of a group of unnamed investors. The winning bid was $1 million, but the investors also must pay the auction house’s 15 per cent commission.

So, besides the price tag, what makes this one cent piece stand out from others?

For one, the copper penny — which features a depiction of Miss Liberty and includes a silver plug in the middle (added to make the penny heavier so it met the weight standards outlined when the U.S. Mint was established in 1792) — is in immaculate shape for its age.

“This particular coin was carefully preserved from owner-to-owner over the past 220 years, and remains in mint state condition,” Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President Todd Imhof said in a statement. “It’s been illustrated in several prominent numismatic reference books.”

In addition to the fact that it is one of only 14 known surviving silver-center cent pieces, the penny is also unique in that it doesn’t have the usual “In God We Trust” that are seen on pennies today.

Instead, the coin says “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”

“At the time, industry and science reflected an enlightenment mindset,” explained Imhof. “People believed freedom of thought and industrial growth would bind and unify the new country, not religion or God.”

Although paying $1 million for a penny sounds like madness to the masses, its definitely not the first time its happened.

ABC News writes that a coin of the same type sold over a year ago for close to $3 million. Under 30 coins in history have sold for more than $1 million in public auction.

via ABC