This week we highlight an interesting pattern 2 Peso gold coin from Peru struck in 1855 at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. This extremely rare pattern was the first coin struck for a foreign government by the U.S. Mint, and is a part of a series that was the first attempt for the Republic of Peru to decimalize their currency. The series contained a 2, 5, 10, and 20 Peso, all of which are extremely rare. The obverse depicts Liberty standing holding a shield in one hand and a Liberty cap surmounted on a pole, the national motto makes up the legend, FIRME Y FELIZ POR LA UNION, which translates to “Strength and Happiness for the Union.” The reverse shows the Peruvian Coat of Arms, and with REPUB. PERUANA LIMA 9 DEC. FINO M.B. in the legend with the date, 1855, below. This short series is highly important to the numismatic legacy of Peru, and such items are so rare, that even the Central Bank of Peru does not contain a complete set.
The offered 2 Peso coin is a lovely Choice Proof, graded Proof-63 by NGC. There are some light hairlines and a mark or two that account for the grade. Lovely toning highlights the raised reliefs in the design and the reflective fields are overall very attractive. Die striations can be noted particularly at the reverse rim, but are as made and do not detract from the eye appeal. David Akers noted “Despite the few minor impairments, the overall appearance and quality of this coin are very good.” To this I will add that a nicer example will more than likely never be available for the connoisseur of Peruvian or Latin American gold coins.
The number struck is exceptionally small; reportedly there were only six examples struck, of which perhaps two or three exist today — the coin ensconced in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and this example, which hails from the famed John J. Pittman Collection, offered as lot 3666 in David Akers’ sale of the Pittman Collection of World Coins in August 1999. (David Akers noted in the 1999 catalog that the Central Bank of Peru reportedly has an example of the 2 and 20 Peso coins as well, but is missing the 5 and 10 Peso.) Pittman bought this coin out of the Palace Collection of King Farouk, where this coin, and its larger 5 Peso sibling were sold together as lot 162. In addition to its rarity, this is a very important coin in the history of not only Peruvian numismatics, but also the history of the United States Mint. As a pattern coin, struck at Philadelphia, in gold, there is much to be said to justify some “crossover appeal” for collectors of U.S. pattern coins. We suspect that there will be much bidder participation when this great rarity crosses the block, so if important Latin American gold coins are your specialty be sure to bid liberally.
As Chris Chatigny, Kent Ponterio, and I have been showing in our weekly blogs, the official Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio Official Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money, August 5-9, 2014, will feature one of the most important and diverse offering of world numismatic rarities that we have sold in many years. We are proud to offer such important world and ancient coin collections as the Demarete Collection, the Ervin Bickley Collection of Swiss Coins, the Kevin Tierney Collection, the George Gund III Collection, the Joseph Vas Collection, and other important properties. The catalogs are currently in production and will be in the mail in a few short weeks. Plan to be a part of this major auction event and get your name on the mailing list by contacting one of our auction services associates. Peruse the photographs and descriptions and be sure to attend our extended lot viewing schedule, which will take place in our Irvine, CA headquarters, our New York City Auction Gallery, and finally at the ANA in Rosemont. If you have any questions about any of the coins in our sale, be sure to contact one of our numismatic experts. If you have world and ancient coins that you would like to sell in the near future, we are currently accepting consignments for our November Baltimore, New York International, and monthly iAuction sales. For more information about consigning to any of these upcoming events, be sure to contact one of our consignment specialists. We look forward to hearing from and working with you.