Coin Collector Spends $2.5 Million On Rare 'Birch Penny' (Photos)

| by Jonathan Wolfe

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” the old cliché goes.

Well, here’s a new twist on Ben Franklin's famous saying: A penny saved is a penny turned…into $2.5 million.

A rare 1792 Birch penny sold for just over $2.5 million last week. The penny was purchased by coin collector Kevin Lipton.

"I wasn't buying it in the heat of an auction," Lipton says in response to those who question his purchase. "I was buying it for value. This coin is one of the greatest, I'd say, top 10 American coins in existence. It's great from a rarity standpoint and a historical standpoint.”

The Birch penny, named after its engraver Robert Birch, was one of the first pennies ever created for the United States. Only 10 are believed to be in existence today.

“I feel elated, just wonderful,” Lipton told the New York Daily News. "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.”

On one side of the coin, Lady Liberty is depicted with the words “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry” wrapped around her. On the other side, the words “United States of America” and “One Cent” are printed. Here, courtesy of Heritage Auctions, is a picture of the coin:

Lipton, who is obviously a man with no shortage of funds to fuel his hobby, was so happy with his find that he bought another rare coin the next day. This time he bought a “Wright quarter,” one of the first quarters ever struck in America. The price of this purchase? Over $2.2 million.

“For 26 cents,” he told Reuters, “I spent $4.8 million.”

Sources: New York Daily News, Reuters