Los Angeles — Bonhams was delighted with the results of The Champagne Lanson Bonnet Vineyard Collection of $20 Gold Coins during its June 3 auction of Rare Coins and Medals in Los Angeles . Every lot from the vineyard's cache found a buyer, making it a "white glove" sale, in auction parlance.

The well-publicized discovery of the hidden treasure occurred in France last February by chance when, according to the vineyard, several of the coins rained down on a worker remodelling a former grape-drying facility. It is unknown how the coins found their way to the attic in the eastern village of Les Riceys, France, but the building was owned by a wine producer who traded with the US and England in the 1930s.

The Collection featured 497 gold US coins minted between 1851 and 1928, selling for a total of approximately $945,000 including the buyer's premium. Individual prices for the coins ranged from $1,500 to over $8,000. The coins had been untouched for nearly a century and range in condition from Very Fine to Choice Mint State.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams, said of the auction, "Bonhams is extremely pleased to have worked with The Lanson-BCC Group on this auction. Their professionalism and partnership to make this a successful auction venture, along as an opportunity to promote the Lanson brand in the United States was a true privilege for us. Our Bonhams Paris Office was instrumental in working closely with the consignor, Lanson-BCC Group, parent company to Alexandre Bonnet Champagne. As well, we are delighted that the auction of the coins not only promoted the name of the Lanson Group Champagne brands in the US but that half of the proceeds from the auction will go to the individual who discovered the coins in the house. The vineyard has described him as a modest employee of the Lanson firm, who brought the Collection to the attention of the company not knowing that he would be entitled to half of the proceeds under French law. According to the vineyard, this anonymous individual will now be able to buy or build a house for his family with the auction proceeds."

The Lanson collection was followed by a diverse selection of US and World coins. Most notable were some very strong prices for rare and early United States Gold from the late colonial and federal period. An 1813 $5 MS64 PCGS, a stunning mint state coin from the federal period, albeit struck in gold, sold for $52,650. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an undated $5 C. Bechtler Private Issue Gold Piece graded MS62 by NGC sold for a very buoyant $40,950. These coins were created as unofficial non-government issues by private assayers to fill a need in new territories where gold was being discovered. Their survival, especially in mint state, is very rare.

The auction's cover lot, an extraordinary English coin by the famed William Wyon is arguably one of the finest designs ever created for any coinage. Featuring one of the most beautiful designs ever created of Una and the Lion, this iconic coin was the object of the most active international bidding, both on phone and internet, and found a final buyer at $81,900.

Bonhams next auction of Coins and Medals is scheduled for September in Los Angeles.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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