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Rare 19th-century Hawaiian coins on auction block

    Neither the 1883 Hawaiian eighth-dollar hapawalu nor the 1881 Hawaiian nickel was used as currency.

Two rare Hawaiian coins, one valued at $40,000, are being auctioned online with bidding slated to close Wednesday.

The auction is being conducted by Texas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, which describes itself as the largest collectibles auctioneer and third-largest auction house in the world.

On its website,, the company says it has 601,133 registered online bidders and members. Bidding also is allowed by calling 800-872-6467, ext. 1150.

One of the two coins, owned by a local collector who requested that his identity not be disclosed, is an example of the uncirculated hapa­walu — an 1883 Hawaiian eighth-dollar coin.

The Hapawalu is one of only 20 minted in 1883. It is listed by Heritage Auction as Lot 5562.

In a December 2008 article in Coin World, the coin was described as the first silver issue of the Hawaiian kingdom.

It was part of the 1883 Hawaiian Kalakaua coinage set: the hapa­walu (eighth-dollar, or 12.5-cent piece), hapaha (quarter-dollar), hapa­lua (half-dollar) and sola (dollar).

However, the hapa­walu was never used as currency.

The auction house says this is the third time a hapa­walu has been offered for sale.

The second coin is the pattern Hawaiian nickel of 1881. It is listed as Lot 5561.

Two hundred of these nickels were minted and presented to King David Kalakaua after he returned from his 1881 trip around the world.

They were struck at the Paris mint at the request of a New Caledonian nickel miner for King Kalakaua. They were never used as coinage and were most likely passed out to members of Kalakaua’s court and were carried as pocket pieces or ended up as jewelry, the auction house said.

The auction house said online bidding will close at 10 p.m. Central Time (5 p.m. in Hawaii) Wednesday.

As of yesterday the bid for the 1881 Hawaiian nickel was $16,000, while the hapa­walu was going for $23,000.

Live bidding on both items will be held Thursday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosement, Ill.

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