A collection of almost 38,000 Spanish coins that includes one minted under Ferdinand and Isabella is on display starting Tuesday in New York before being put up for auction.
"It's one of the most legendary collections of ancient coins of all times. It was completed almost 100 years ago and tells the history of the Spanish world," David Redden, the vice chairman of Sotheby's told Efe on Tuesday.
Redden said that "there are Roman, Visigothic, Islamic coins, from all the cultures that had an impact on the Iberian Peninsula" and they are "an excellent sample of the great colonial history of Spain."
Standing out among the thousands of coins is the only example of the 50 Excelentes, minted in the 15th century on the order of Ferdinand and Isabella during the period of Columbus' expeditions to the New World.
It's one of the most legendary collections of ancient coins of all times. It was completed almost 100 years ago and tells the history of the Spanish world.
- David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby's
The gold coin in question weighs almost 5 ounces, and it is believed to have been produced on special occasions to be given to people whom the monarchs wanted to honor.
The 50 Excelentes "is arguably the most important and valuable European coin in existence, and the largest gold coin from the 15th century that survives today," Sotheby's said.
The most representatives coins from the collection will be exhibited for a limited time this month, while in February the entire collection will be on public display before the deadline for the sealed-bid auction on March 8.
Sotheby's estimates that the sale could bring in as much as $35 million.
The coins belong to the Hispanic Society of America, which has never displayed them before and is selling the collection to raise funds for acquisitions of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts.
The collection was assembled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by U.S. philanthropist and Hispanist Archer M. Huntington, who set about collecting coins from every historic period and part of the world, no matter how distant, where Spain came to exert its influence.