A $2 million dime was sold at a Tampa, Florida, auction on Thursday. The rare 1894-S dime, which was designed by Charles E. Barber, was one of only 24 dimes produced by the San Fransisco Mint in 1894. Despite the fact that two dozen 1894-S dimes were struck, the whereabouts of 15 coins remain unknown.
Although rare and valuable coins were often made “under-the-table,” the 1894-S dime was ordered to be stamped and was listed in the mint’s annual report.
It is unclear why only 24 of the coins were stamped. However, according to SF Gate, rumors suggest the dimes were minted as a “special gift by the mint director,” John Daggettas, to seven of his friends. Other rumors suggest the director gave one or more of the coins to his daughter to purchase ice cream.
Professional Coin Grading Service co-founder David Hall said the actual reason is far less interesting. In an interview with the Daily News, Hall said fewer coins were ordered in 1894 as the United States was experiencing a significant recession and the mint already had more than two million dimes on hand.
As reported by NumisMaster.com, interest in the dimes increased throughout the early 1900s when coin dealers began offering awards of up to $100 for one of the rare coins. Despite numerous offers, which were printed in popular magazines, only nine of the coins were accounted for.
Of the nine remaining 1894-S dimes, seven “are proofs or have proof-like surfaces” and two are visibly worn. Hall said the $2 million dime sold at the Florida auction is in “spectacular condition, almost perfect.”
— CNN (@CNN) January 8, 2016
Heritage Auctions described the coin as a “premium gem.”
“It is a delightful Premium Gem, with razor-sharp definition on all design elements. Every detail of the leaf veins and corn kernels in the wreath are sharply rendered and the dentils are fully detailed on both sides. The impeccably preserved surfaces are blanketed in vivid shades of greenish-gold, violet-blue, and rose-gray toning, and the fields are brightly reflective, under the patina. Eye appeal is unsurpassed.”
Although there are many rumors, it is unclear how many of the 1894-S dimes actually made it into circulation and where the missing dimes might be.
According to Heritage Auctions, five of the coins were sent to the Assay Commission in June 1895. Therefore, only 19 of the coins could have made it into circulation.
— Mashable (@mashable) January 8, 2016
In an effort to locate the missing coins, Heritage Auctions, which handled the auction for the $2 million, is offering a $10,000 reward for any previously unreported 1894-S dimes.
Heritage Auctions numismatist said someone may have one of the valuable coins without even realizing its worth.
“They could be in somebody’s desk drawer. They could be sitting in somebody’s bank box. People could look almost anywhere and they might show up.”
In 2007, a similar dime was purchased by David Lawrence Rare Coins for an anonymous buyer for nearly $2 million. As reported by PCGS, the rare coin remains the finest known 1894-S dime in existence.
The $2 million dime purchased at the Florida United Numismatists show was also purchased by a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous.
Although $2 million is a lot to pay for one coin, the most expensive coin ever auctioned was a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar. As reported on the company’s website, the rare coin was auctioned by Stack’s Bowers Galleries for $10,016,875. The sale broke the previous record of $7,590.020, which was paid for a 1933 Double Eagle.
The $2 million 1894-S dime is not the most expensive coin ever sold, but it is considered one of “The Big Three” valuable coins. The other two coins, the 1804 dollar and the 1913 Liberty nickel, are equally rare and valuable.
The buyer of the $2 million dime will likely remain a mystery, as the private collector did not want to be identified. However, he was betting against 15 others for the rare coin.
[Image via Shutterstock/triff]