Nearly 600 coins from The Collection of Donald E. Bently, the late Minden founder, owner and CEO of Bently Nevada Corp., are to be sold Thursday at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco.
Proceeds from the auction will benefit Bently Foundation, which launched this month and was founded by Bently’s son, Christopher Bently, CEO of Bently Enterprises and Bently Holdings.
Christopher Bently established the foundation to support the communities served by his companies.
The San Francisco auction is one among several taking place across the country, and is expected to raise more than $7.5 million for the foundation, based on information provided by Heritage Auctions. Throughout the live auction, bids will be taken from the floor, phone and Heritage Live on HA.com.
Lot viewings start today at the Bently Reserve, in a special single owner catalog by Heritage Auctions.
“My father taught me to be forward thinking and to have vision,” said Bently. “Bently Foundation will be 100 percent dedicated to nurturing and improving our world, fostering support for organizations, individuals and ideas that align with our core values of cultivating the arts, advancing environmental sustainability and aiding animal welfare. All proceeds from the coin auction will go directly to the Bently Foundation.”
Donald Bently was an engineering pioneer whose technology created the foundation of the new mechanical engineering discipline of the diagnostics of machinery malfunctions. Christopher Bently said his father instilled values in him of innovation, sustainability and community engagement and ensured the coins’ profits are used toward community initiatives.
“Christopher Bently is selling this father’s coin collection to build a new legacy of creativity, sustainability, and animal rights in Bay Area and Nevada communities through Bently Foundation,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “Don had a particularly nuanced focus on California Gold Rush, Old West, San Francisco Mint and the Carson City Mint coinage.”
Rohan said the roster of 19th century rarities in the auction is led by a stunning 1830 Templeton Reid quarter eagle, AU55, an exceedingly important find from the first private gold coiner in Georgia. “This historic piece is a relic from the dawn of the American gold rush,” he said, “which took place not in California, but near the Appalachian Trail.” The pre-sale estimate for the 1830 Templeton Reid quarter eagle is $200,000-plus.
Other highlights of the coin collection include an 1841 Liberty quarter eagle, PR53, which is a favorite 19th century curiosity among collectors, although one with a controversial history. Dubbed the “Little Princess,” the coin does not appear in the 1841 Mint Report, yet experts believe it exists in both proof and business strike examples, with fewer than 20 pieces known. The pre-sale estimate for “Little Princess” is $100,000-plus.
An 1854-S Liberty quarter eagle, the Discovery Coin for the type, is one of only 12 remaining of 236 pieces struck, while an 1863-S quarter eagle, XF45, NGC, survives as a scarce coin from a limited mintage of only 30 pieces, of which perhaps 12 to 15 examples survive. This rare coin has a pre-sale estimate of $100,000-plus.
The collection’s highly-cultivated selection of gold coins is reflected in the 1870-CC 20 dollar, AU53, PCGS, the 1864-S 10 dollar, AU53, NGC, and the elusive 1920-S 20 dollar, MS60, NGC, which escaped an eternity as a gold bar deep within Fort Knox, a fate that befell all but an estimated 75 examples. These and many more coins exemplify Bently’s wisdom and passion in his pursuit, Rohan said.