UNIQUE LYDSTON-FROHMAN EISENHOWER DOLLAR PROTOTYPE TO SELL AT PUBLIC AUCTION FOR FIRST TIME
By James Halperin
I feel honored to announce that one of the most extraordinary coins I’ve ever encountered will make its first public sales appearance at Heritage’s January 2022 Platinum Night® official Florida United Numismatists convention auction. Indeed, given its frankly surreal nature, I chose to make this coin a personal pet project over this past year.
As such, let me personally introduce you to the first coin ever issued by the United States Mint since its founding in 1792 to be certified by any major grading service as a true prototype in private hands. Namely, the 1971-S Eisenhower silver dollar prototype. This is the same coin that made headlines upon its 2008 discovery by expert collector Lee C. Lydston. Today, it is recognized as the Lydston-Frohman Prototype to include the name of its current owner, David Frohman. Given its significance, I expect that this name will further evolve upon its inaugural public sale in January to include that of its new owner, assuming that is the buyer’s wish.
This coin will make history when it sells publicly for the first time at FUN in Orlando. It is one of the rarest of all American silver dollars ever struck in private hands, and has been poetically dubbed by its current owner as “The Birth Certificate of America’s Last Silver Dollar.”™ Others have likewise referred to it as a unique foundational artifact of the American monetary system.
The new owner who gains the privilege of adding his or her name to this coin during Platinum Night® in Orlando may also have the opportunity to place it on long-term national institutional loan. Entities such as the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection, the United States Mint Collection or any of the Federal Reserve museum collections come to mind. The collections of the American Numismatic Association and American Numismatic Society would also make fine choices, among countless others. On behalf of myself and Heritage Auctions, we hope that the new owner of this illustrious coin will accept any such invitation to place it on long-term loan for the benefit of the American people, and collectors worldwide.
Countless numismatic rarities have crossed the public auction block since the establishment of the United States Mint in 1792. Coins such as the Brasher doubloon and the 1794 silver dollar easily come to mind. But consider that coins such as these had first crossed the auction block around a century prior to our lifetimes. None of us could be present when the discovery example of the first Brasher doubloon crossed the auction block in the mid-1800s, but will now witness the inaugural sale of the first prototype ever discovered while in private hands.
Speaking of the Brasher doubloon, the last example sold by Heritage realized $9,360,000 in January 2021. Appropriately, I selected David Stone, the same expert cataloger and researcher who did a magnificent job with the doubloon, to catalog this piece, too. Here is his superb catalog description for this unprecedented Platinum Night® offering.
Given the historical, national and symbolic importance of this coin, I have taken specific steps in bringing this to public market. First, I authorized essentially unlimited Platinum Night® catalog space, because I believe this offering is that special. Secondly, this coin was made available to Heritage by David Frohman, a personal friend and a fellow numismatist of more than 50 years. With David’s approval, we together agreed that this prototype will come to public auction for the first time without any reserve. David and I both wish to encourage new (and especially younger) collectors to learn how to bid, and what better way than to place a bid on this prototype? Only one bidder will actually win the coin, but many could have the unique and fun experience of placing perhaps their first coin auction bid.
It would be especially helpful and to our hobby’s benefit, I think, if the early bidders would each bid the next minimum increment, at least until the coin reaches $1,000 or more. That way, so many more bidders can participate and become part of the story. David and I were not around to place a bid on the first Brasher doubloon to ever come to auction. But it sure would have made a great tale to someday tell our grandchildren that we were there participating in that 19th-century salesroom, and our bids were actually being accepted! Until, of course, our allowances ran out.
Now to the million-dollar question (pun intended). What is this worth? We won’t know that until the hammer falls. But this coin is, and will always remain, the one-and-only first United States Mint prototype ever discovered in private hands since, well, when George Washington was president.
So, Trophy Coin collectors, if you’ve been looking for that once-in-a-lifetime story to share, you just found it!
Friends, in January 2022, numismatic history will occur when America’s first privately owned prototype coin makes its inaugural public sale appearance. On behalf of our entire Heritage family spanning the globe, we are honored to have helped make this landmark offering possible.
Please let me conclude by wishing you and your loved ones the very happiest of holidays, along with a new year full of health, wealth, happiness, love and time to enjoy them!
JAMES HALPERIN is Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of Heritage Auctions.