A rare half cent coin dating back more than 200 years is expected to fetch a whopping 30,000 pounds at an auction in the UK.

The half cent American coin, which dates back to 1796 and is one of only 1,400 ever made and found stashed away in a cupboard for five decades, will go under the hammer in Salisbury, Wiltshire, next month.

It was part of a collection which once belonged to Oxford student Mark Hillary who was killed in a climbing accident in Greece at the age of 20 in 1963, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

The coin, which is still in mint condition, remained hidden in Hilary’s homemade cabinet of glued together matchboxes until members of his family found it recently.

It was struck in pure copper at the Philadelphia Mint and designed by the mint’s first Chief Engraver, Robert Scott.

“A relative brought the matchbox cabinet of coins in and on first inspection there did not appear to be much of interest but then this one coin jumped out,” Daniel Fearon, Woolley and Wallis coin consultant, said.

“I hope it will always be remembered as the Mark Hillary coin. The condition of the coin is unchanged with a good even brown colour and some traces of redness around the obverse letters and around wreath on the reverse.

“The coin is one of just a handful that has survived in this condition. Half cents have always been a rarity in the collectors’ market. Britain is just the place where you could expect to find one, Fearon said.

Hillary attended both Winchester and Magdalen Colleges in Oxford and is said to have been well on the way to a first in classical greats when he died, the report said.

His passion for coin collecting often took him to the London dealers and the main bulk of his collection was sold at auction a few years ago.

(This article was published on December 10, 2012)
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