An anonymous woman from Indiana has donated an extremely rare coin to her church in Valparaiso earlier this year to help finance a new building for the congregation.
The woman donated her rare 1866 proof Liberty Head double eagles coin to GracePoint Church, which has been using space at an elementary school for its gatherings since its founding in 2009.
According to a news release from Texas-based Heritage Auctions, the coin, which features one of the earliest uses of the motto "In God We Trust," is one of only 10 survivors.
"According to United States Mint records, only 30 proof Liberty double eagles were struck in 1866. Today we can track only ten known surviving specimens, and three of them are part of permanent collections, including one in The Smithsonian Institution," said Sarah Miller, Director of Numismatics at Dallas, Texas-based Heritage Auctions' New York office.
The rare coin, which will be auctioned off on April 27, could sell for more than $300,000 because of its rarity and condition, officials said.
GracePoint Pastor Ben Lamb said that $150,000 had already been wired by Heritage Auctions as advance payment toward the coin's final auction price. The payment allowed the church to begin construction on the new building, Indy Star reported.
The Heritage Auctions news release noted that the church was able to avoid missing a crucial financial deadline for the project because of the woman's donation.
The donation almost did not happen because someone tried to steal the rare coin from the woman's home four years ago. Lamb said that the woman described the coin as a "thorn in her side" after the attempted theft. The pastor, however, described it as an "incredible gift in God's story."
"The widow told us the coin was rare, but we never dreamed how huge the true value was or the money it could ultimately bring for GracePoint Church. We were down to just a couple days to meet our financial deadline for our new building, and Heritage immediately wired GracePoint $150,000," the pastor said, according to Coin News.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, one of the world's largest rare coin authentication companies, authenticated the coin as genuine in 1992 and graded it Proof 65, on a scale of one to 70.