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Rare 15th Century Spanish Coins Going Up for Auction

This undated photo provided by Sotheby's showssome gold coins from the 37,895 piece Archer M. Huntington Collection, that will be auctioned by Sotheby's in New York.  The collection Spanish coins dating back to the ancient world  is expected to realize between $25/35 million, and will be on public exhibition in its entirety  during February 2012. (AP Photo/Sotheby's)

This undated photo provided by Sotheby's showssome gold coins from the 37,895 piece Archer M. Huntington Collection, that will be auctioned by Sotheby's in New York. The collection Spanish coins dating back to the ancient world is expected to realize between $25/35 million, and will be on public exhibition in its entirety during February 2012. (AP Photo/Sotheby's)  (AP)

Rare Spanish coins dating back to the ancient world will be going on the auction block.

Sotheby's announced Thursday that it is selling 37,895 of the rare coins on behalf of the New York City-based Hispanic Society of America. The society's founder amassed the collection more than 100 years ago.

The Hispanic Society of America, founded in 1904, is a museum of Spanish and Latin America history. It holds art, rare books and, manuscripts and artifacts. The museum contains works by Diego Velásquez, Francisco de Goya and El Grego – and it has the first edition of Don Quijote.

The coins are expected to raise between $25 million to $35 million for the society. The money will be used for future acquisitions and care of the current collection.

According to the New York Times, the society is going through financial hardships after seeing its endowments shrink. 

"We've not had, historically, an acquisition fund for museum collection," Mitchell A Codding, the executive director, told the Times. "This will now give us a significant fund."

The collection includes 50 massive gold coins called Excelentes struck under Ferdinand and Isabella, during the period of Christopher Columbus' expeditions.

Other coins date from the Roman Empire and from the era before Rome when a number of cultures including Celts and Phoenicians inhabited what is now Spain. The Islamic period after the year 711 is also represented.

The coins are being sold as one lot in a sealed bid auction ending March 8.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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