IRVINE, Calif. (May 8, 2015) — A nearly forgotten piece of history from the early United States space program returns to the fore with the recent consignment to auction of a rare American coin that traveled in space! The coin, a rare 1793 one-cent piece, also happens to have been made the first year that the United States Mint produced coins in large numbers for general circulation, so it is a particularly historic piece.
“Over many years, we have enjoyed handling the rarest and most valuable coins ever sold, but this piece is particularly exciting for its unique history,” said John Pack, executive director of consignments for Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
The cent orbited the Earth 206 times between December 4 and December 18, 1965, aboard the Gemini VII, controlled by astronauts Frank Borman and James A. Lovell. However, they were unaware of their precious cargo. The coin had been slipped into their medical kit by NASA physician, Dr. Howard A. Minners, and was not revealed to them until the orbiter had landed and was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean by the crew of the U.S.S. Wasp. Hours after the recovery of the vessel, Dr. Minners opened the medical kit, shared the presence of the cent with the astronauts, and photographed the coin alongside other contents of the kit. The whole affair is well documented by Borman, Lovell and Minners, who jointly prepared a statement on NASA letterhead attesting to the facts on January 25, 1966. The story was later reported on the Associated Press newswire in October 1972, the first time the coin was sold privately by the original owner.
The coin will be sold with the original related documentation, including Minners’ photograph of the coin with contents of the medical kit, as well as original NASA photographs from the Gemini VII mission, letters from Minners, and a Gemini VII flight patch from the mission.
“The public auction venue will allow the excitement and desire of collectors to determine the real value of this historic piece today,” commented rare coin expert Q. David Bowers, one of the founders of the auction firm, who has personally handled hundreds of millions of dollars in rare coins in his 60-year career. “This is truly an exciting opportunity, particularly when one considers the awe that the space program instilled in the minds of people around the world in the 1960s,” continued Bowers. As a one-time collector and student of meteorites, the appearance of the “Space Penny,” as it was once called, is an exciting combination of two of his long-time passions, which are shared by many other collectors.
The coin will be available for lot viewing at upcoming Stack’s Bowers Galleries auctions, at the company’s Irvine, Calif. corporate headquarters by appointment in April 2015, its New York City gallery May 8-15, 2015, and on exhibit at Sotheby’s May 16-19, 2015. For more information or to schedule a lot-viewing appointment, please call 800.458.4646 (West Coast) or 800.566.2580 (East Coast), or email [email protected]
About Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s 80-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, The Guia Collection, The Thos. H. Law Collection, and The Robert O. Ebert Collection.
Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded Specimen-66 (PCGS) that realized over $10 million, part of their sale of the famed Cardinal Collection. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is an Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Professional Numismatists Guild New York Invitational, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, and its April and August Hong Kong Auctions.