Chicago Church Makes Nearly Half a Million Dollars from Sale of Rare Gold Coin from 1866

A rare 1866 Double Eagle $20 gold coin was the first to bear the "In God we trust" inscription on the reverse. (Hertiage Auctions / Handout)
A rare 1866 Double Eagle $20 gold coin was the first to bear the “In God we trust” inscription on the reverse. (Hertiage Auctions / Handout)

The new GracePoint church struck gold Thursday when a donated $20 coin was sold at auction for $517,000.

The auction of a rare 1866 Double Eagle gold $20 proof coin, stamped with “In God We Trust,” fetched well over the estimated sale price of $300,000. A woman who belonged to the church donated the coin recently as officials there faced a financing deadline for a building project.

Heritage Auctions sold the coin during a combination live and online auction that closed with the winning bid at 10 p.m. Thursday. The live auction was held at a Schaumburg, Ill., convention center, part of a premium event for high-dollar items, but the final bid came in online, after officials said bidding was so intense, amounts were going up in $20,000 increments. The buyer has not been disclosed.

The sale price, said John Hodson, owner of John Hodson Coins in Munster, was “awesome,” and while he expected the coin, because of its rarity, to go for up to 20 percent over the estimated sale price, he didn’t think it would sell for as much as it did.

“I’ve had a lot of expensive items, some that are very, very expensive, but nothing approaching that,” said Hodson, who’s been in business since 1975.

The church will not receive all of the money from the sale, said Ben Lamb, GracePoint’s pastor. The actual sale price was $440,000, with premium auction fees paid by the buyer making up the rest of the bid.

The church’s take of that, after paying out its auction fees, is $418,000, Lamb said. Since Heritage Auctions gave GracePoint officials $150,000 up front when they agreed to auction the coin, the church will receive the remaining balance of $268,000.

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SOURCE: Amy Lavalley
Chicago Post-Tribune