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301 pennies auctioned off for $10.7M
Sat Feb 16, 7:51 PM ET

LONG BEACH, Calif. - A penny saved is not necessarily just a penny earned: One man's collection of rare American cents has turned into a $10.7 million auction windfall.

The collection of 301 cents featured some of the rarest and earliest examples of the American penny, including a cent that was minted for two weeks in 1793 but was abandoned because Congress thought Lady Liberty looked frightened.

That coin and a 1794 large cent with tiny stars added to prevent counterfeiters each raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auction Galleries, which held the sale in Long Beach on Friday night.

Heritage Auction president Greg Rohan said the auction was the biggest ever for a penny collection, with hundreds of bidders vying for the coins. Presale estimates valued the collection at about $7 million.

"It was a fabulous night," Rohan said. "Every major coin collector of American cents was either there in person, bidding online or on the telephone."

The coins came from the collection of Burbank resident Walter J. Husak, the owner of an aerospace-part manufacturing company. Husak became interested in collecting at age 13, while visiting his grandparents who paid him in old coins for helping with chores.

There were 168 successful bidders, and the auction gallery got 15 percent of the total.

This image provided by Heritage Auction Galleries shows a 1794 large cent. About the size of a modern quarter-dollar, this 1794-dated penny with tiny stars engraved around the back rim was sold for $632,500 by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas Friday Feb. 15, 2008. Owned by Burbank, California aerospace industry executive, Walter J. Husak, it was part of a $10.7 million auction of 300 of his early American pennies.
(AP Photo/Heritage Auction Galleries)

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1794 Large Cent - Rare American Cents - pennies auctioned off for $10.7M

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