Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Rare coin collection set to make a mint

By Bryony Jones, CNN
January 4, 2012 -- Updated 0245 GMT (1045 HKT)
More than 600 ancient Greek coins -- the Prospero Collection -- are to go under the hammer at an auction in New York on January 4. More than 600 ancient Greek coins -- the Prospero Collection -- are to go under the hammer at an auction in New York on January 4.
HIDE CAPTION
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
Ancient Greek coins go under the hammer
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prospero Collection of ancient Greek coins to be sold at auction
  • Trove assembled over 30 years by private collector, hidden away for past two decades
  • Most valuable piece expected to sell for $650,000; collection valued at $8 million
  • Gold coin featuring head of a satyr "a masterpiece of ancient Greek art"

(CNN) -- A collection of rare ancient Greek coins which has been hidden away for two decades is expected to sell for millions of dollars when it goes up for auction in New York on Wednesday.

The Prospero Collection features coins of historical and artistic importance, including one described by an expert as "a masterpiece of ancient Greek art."

Assembled by a private collector over three decades, from 1960 to 1991, the treasure trove has remained untouched for the past 20 years.

After so long out of the spotlight, the coins have attracted serious interest from potential buyers around the world and at recent viewings in the U.S. and the UK.

They are of great artistic beauty and historical significance, which makes them more interesting than stocks or shares, and they are tangible and portable
Paul Hill

Paul Hill, ancient Greek coin specialist at dealers A. H. Baldwin & Sons, the company behind the sale, said many of the coins were "miniature works of art."

The most valuable item in the collection is a gold stater featuring the head of a bearded satyr and the figure of a winged griffin, which the auction catalog describes as "without doubt the greatest ancient Greek gold coin."

Hill said the lot, "a masterpiece of ancient Greek art," had a pre-sale estimate of $650,000 and may eventually go under the hammer for as much as $1 million.

He said that while most of the lots were likely to sell to collectors, coins were increasingly being seen as an attractive investment, given the global financial crisis.

"They are of great artistic beauty and historical significance, which makes them more interesting than stocks or shares, and they are tangible and portable, compared to a big estate."

"Such passion has gone into the collection, and it has been an important part of somebody's life for so long, that there is an element of sadness to see it split up," Hill told CNN.

"But it is lovely to see it published together now, for posterity, before it is 'recycled' and finds new homes with new collectors all over the world."

The Prospero Collection will be sold at auction at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on January 4, 2012.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Viewing Bruegel's The Way to Calvary, director Lech Majewski says, is like watching a film unfold -- so he's brought the work to the big screen.
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
Detail from
A study for Paul Cezanne's master work "The Card Players," missing for decades, has been rediscovered in a Texas art collection.
March 23, 2012 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
A painting dismissed for years as the work of an unknown artist has been identified as a piece by Vincent Van Gogh, after x-ray tests.
March 14, 2012 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
A Leonardo da Vinci mural unseen since the 16th century may have been found hidden behind a Florentine fresco painted by another artist.
March 12, 2012 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
The American wing at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art re-opens to the public following a decade-long renovation program.
March 2, 2012 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
The world-famous Ghent Altarpiece, completed in 1432, can now be viewed on a specially-designed, open source website.
February 24, 2012 -- Updated 0141 GMT (0941 HKT)
With its palaces, sculpted parks, concert halls and museums, Vienna is a city steeped in culture. Take a tour with CNN World's Treasures.
February 23, 2012 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
Edvard Munch's The Scream (1895), which is to be sold at Sotheby's in New York on May 2, 2012.
One of the world's most iconic works of art will go under the hammer in May, and could sell for tens of millions of dollars at auction in New York.
February 16, 2012 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Heavy snow has already wreaked havoc across Europe, now it is damaging some of its most recognized historic monuments.
February 13, 2012 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Join World's Treasures for a tour through Charles Dickens' London to celebrate the bicentenary of the celebrated British author's birth.
ADVERTISEMENT