Someone paid $15K for a piece of mold this morning

The sample of penicillin mold that sold this morning (credit: Bonhams)

Well this certainly breaks the mold!

Lot 92 at Bonhams “Fine Books and Manuscripts” auction this morning was a piece of fungus that sold for £11,875 ($14,620).

Of course, this is no ordinary mold; it is one of the original pieces that Alexander Fleming used to make the first dose of penicillin (it is appropriately inscribed on the back: “The mould that first made Penicillin” with Alexander Fleming’s signature). The mold is mounted on a glass disc with a black plastic rim.

While you may very well be wondering who in their right mind would want to own this mold, many famous people actually do own penicillin medallions. Fleming seemed to enjoy giving them out all over town; he gave Pope Pius XII a piece in exchange for a papal medal in 1945 and he also gave them to the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Marlene Dietrich, Churchill and Roosevelt.

This particular sample comes from Fleming’s niece, Mary Anne Johnston.