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The Controversial Coin That Sold For $1,000 On Pawn Stars

When a college student brings an old quarter into the shop on History Channel's Pawn Stars, the last thing you would think is that it would be controversial. We're talking about American money, which is approved and regulated by the U.S. government. How could something like that possibly become controversial?

Well, you better believe it. In season 12, episode 4, "Godfather of Pawn," a college student named Tyler brings in an old quarter that used to belong to his grandfather, who recently passed. He doesn't know much about the coin but quickly learns why so many Americans caused an uproar about this coin. This transaction ends up being a little risky for owner Rick Harrison as well, as Tyler wasn't able to stick around the pawn shop for the expert's appraisal, forcing Rick to buy it without anyone looking at it.

Check out how much the seller initially offered the Pawn Stars for this controversial coin and why so many Americans disliked it in the first place.

There was an exposed woman on the Pawn Stars coin

At first sight, one may assume the coin is like many others, featuring a person in some elegant manner. However, that's not the case with this coin. We're talking about the 1917 Standing Liberty Coin, which features Lady Liberty with an exposed breast. Many Americans found this design upsetting and inappropriate, especially because of the prospect of children handling the coins.

According to Rick, the coin itself is toned due to oxidation, which isn't a bad thing because it gives it more detail. It's obvious Tyler doesn't know how much this coin is worth because when Rick asks how much he wants for it, he responds with, "It must be worth at least $500." To his surprise, it probably is! Rick thinks it's worth more, likely around $1,200 to $1,700. Rick tries to bring in an expert, but unfortunately, Tyler can't stick around. As a result, Rick just buys it for $1,000, which is right between the worst and best-case scenario. Since that is double Tyler's asking price, he happily accepts.

Later in the episode, Rick brings in David Vagi, an old coinage expert and the director at NGC Ancients. He provides Rick with additional information about the coin, such as how there was a design change to remove the exposed breast. This detail makes it that much more remarkable because technically, the newly designed coins were illegal. Congress never authorized it in its final form, according to David. This makes Rick's coin both legal and very rare.

David believes the coin will be a mint state 66 with a full head designation, making it worth anywhere between $1,500 to $1,700.