Illustration for article titled Why Did This Penny Sell For A Record-Breaking $2.6 Million?

That's right: this ultra-rare 1792 "Birch Cent," named for engraver Robert Birch, just raked in nearly $2.6 million at a Florida auction. What allows a one cent coin to fetch such a high price?


Ultra-rare is probably not even good enough of a descriptor; according to a Reuters report on the sale, it was "among the first pennies struck for the United States, part of a series of prototype coins. Only 10 are believed to exist."

The coin in question, purchased by collector Kevin Lipton, is the best-preserved example among the 10. "I felt elated, just wonderful," Lipton told Reuters. "It's a gorgeous coin, breathtaking. And the history is important. This is our earliest depiction of what we thought of ourselves as a nation."


According to the auction house, rare coins are a hot investment property right now, and Lipton's bid ($2,585,000) set a new record for amount spent on a one-cent piece.

And then this happened:

Lipton, who plans to hold onto his new purchase for himself for now, said he was so excited to get the coin that the next day he spent another $2,232,500 for the "Wright quarter," America's first quarter. "For 26 cents," he said, "I spent $4.8 million."

Image via Coin World.

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