Collector's dream

Record price paid for rare Victorian penny

The rare coin, top, is missing a ‘H’ beneath the date as shown above

A rare Victorian penny has fetched a record £37,200 after a fierce bidding war broke out at the London auction house Baldwin’s.

The 1882 Young head Bronze Penny has long been considered the most prized coin of its era.

Before now, just one perfect specimen had ever appeared at auction, though whispers of a “lost twin” circulated for years, dividing the experts while adding to the coin’s folklore.

For enthusiasts, the coin’s allure stems from a peculiarity in its design. Nearly all pennies struck that year came from the Heaton Mint in Birmingham and featured a “H” below the Britannia emblem. 

However, a tiny number of “No H pennies” minted in London were also produced, which collectors have obsessed about for more than a century.

Many were resigned to believing one would never be seen again, casting doubt on its existence. Then, without warning in the summer, an elderly gentleman arrived in the London offices of Baldwin & Sons and produced the fabled coin from a leather purse. 

The owner told his stunned audience of coin experts that he had acquired it in a private sale in the 1980s for just £1,000, and it had remained hidden in an underground vault for more than 30 years.

The coin — 30.8mm in diameter and weighing 9.4g — features a laureate bust of Queen Victoria on one side and a seated Britannia on the reverse. Baldwin’s panel of experts immediately recognised it as genuine.

It was ultimately awarded a ‘Mint State 64 Brown’ grade by an independent appraisal specialist — meaning it is considered virtually flawless.

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