Sold for: $55,200.00 includes Buyer's Premium (BP)
This Lincoln penny which is not quite a century old, which looks exactly like the 39,000 other Lincoln pennies minted in 1921, and also looks exactly like the other 50 million or so Lincoln wheat pennies, except for the date, sold recently at a Heritage auction for $55,000.
It is minted in copper so it has almost no intrinsic value.
It has no historical significance to speak of.
It is not very visually imaginative or accomplished.
In fact, is holds no interest even for the person who purchased it except for the number on the holder which says "MS 68." This same number can be found on countless other holders. But on this holder with this absolutely pedestrian coin it is worth $55,000 at auction. Because this number makes it a "condition rarity."
Never mind that it is a condition rarity of something no more unique or significant than an exceptionally well preserved shoe lace or ball point pen.
Not to pick on Lincoln pennies. The same can be said for Jefferson Nickels, and Morgan dollars, some of which sell for much more than this.
Let's compare this to this Alexander the Great Stater:
Also a condition rarity graded in CH MS STAR. We have a coin of tremendous historical fascination as it was minted just after the death of Alexander, in about 330 BCE, in order to establish the legitimacy of his half brother Philip III as King of Macedon, and, in fact Emperor of the greatest empire the world has known to that time. It is also a masterpiece of artistic achievement. And it is minted on a quarter ounce of gold - about 2300 years ago.
Now, it is impossible to say what the original mintage is, but it is safe to say no more than 100 examples have come to market in the last 50 years in any condition, and perhaps far less than that. And the portrait is dissimilar to that on any other coin.
So what is this worth? Tough to say, exactly, but certainly less than $55,000 for the Lincoln penny pictured above. In fact the last coin is similar condition (CH MS without the star) sold for $42,000 in a Heritage Auction.
For the money, which would you rather own?
And this is not an outlier comparison. Really, the same comparison can be made to many other rare ancient coins of tremendous historical importance with any number of us condition rarities of nickels, quarters, dollars that are less than 100 years old - from mintages in the 10's and 100's of thousands.
Again, over time, which would you rather own?