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Auction of rare Hawaiian coins concludes today

  • Courtesy Heritage Auction galleries


The online auction for two rare Hawaiian coins has closed with a bid of $32,500 for a 1883 Hawaiian eighth-dollar coin known as a hapawalu, but the online bid may not be the final price. 

The bidding will continue for the hapawalu and a 1881 Hawaiian nickel in a live auction today in Illinois.

Texas-based Heritage Auction Galleries is conducting the auction at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosement, Ill. Heritage describes itself as the largest collectibles auctioneer and third-largest auction house in the world.

The Hawaiian eighth-dollar coin, or Hapawalu, is one of only 20 minted in 1883 and is valued at $40,000.

A New Caledona nickel miner contacted King David Kalakaua in 1881 before the king left the islands on a trip and offered to have five-cent pieces to be struck at a Paris mint, the auction house reported. Two hundred of these nickels were minted and presented to Kalakaua after he returned from his trip around the world. 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.

Online bidding for the nickel closed at $16,000 yesterday.

In a December 2008 article in Coin World, the hapawalu was described as the first silver issue of the Hawaiian kingdom. It was part of the 1883 Hawaiian Kalakaua coinage set: the hapa­walu (or 12.5-cent piece), hapaha (quarter-dollar), hapa­lua (half-dollar) and sola (dollar). The hapa­walu was never used as currency.


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