The Most Valuable US Coins
U.S. coins make fascinating collectibles, as they’re a distinctive piece of history. Combine their fascinating backstories with valuable materials and beautiful designs, and you have some of the most sought-after pieces in the country. Here are some of the most valuable U.S. coins in existence.
1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ($20,165,100)
The U.S. minted the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle from 1907 to 1933. While all are quite valuable, the 1933 coin is the most sought after. Only one coin of this type exists legally in a private collection. This 1933 Double Eagle sold for $18.9 million in a 2021 auction and now boasts a higher estimated worth. Many consider the design, created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of the most beautiful of its time.
The 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is especially valuable because the government ordered that all privately held coins of this type be melted down in 1934 as part of the Gold Reserve Act. The Smithsonian Institute preserved two specimens. The Mint recovered all but one of the remaining coins. Despite its best efforts, investigations, and lawsuits, a single 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle remained in private hands, making it the most valuable U.S. coin in the world.
1849 Coronet Head Gold $20 Double Eagle ($17,906,612)
Only one 1849 Coronet Head Gold $20 Double Eagle exists today. It was the first double eagle minted in the U.S. The $20 double eagle came about as the result of the California Gold Rush. Before this time, gold coins were only minted in $10 denominations.
The Mint purportedly produced two $20 double eagles on December 22, 1849. One went to the Smithsonian Institute, where it continues to reside. The other went to Treasury Secretary William M Meredith. No one knows where it is or if it still exists. If the coin in the Smithsonian Institute went to auction, it would sell for an estimated $10,000,000 to $20,000,000.
1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar ($13,280,850)
The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar shows a distinctive image of Lady Liberty with her hair flowing free behind her. The U.S. Mint produced just 1,758 of these coins from a single pair of dies. Estimates show that between 120 and 130 of this silver dollar remain today.
One well-preserved 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar exists today, making it rare. Many believe this coin was the first silver dollar ever struck in the U.S. The coin went for over $10 million at auction in 2013. It again went up for auction in Las Vegas in October of 2020 but wasn’t sold, as it didn’t reach the minimum bid.
1787 Brasher Doubloon ($9,986,500)
The Brasher Dubloon predates the U.S. Mint and is the first gold coin produced in the U.S. One of George Washington’s neighbors, Ephraim Brasher, made seven of them, originally worth about $15. The front depicts a rising sun and the state seal, while the American eagle appears with a shield on the reverse. Brasher’s signature “EB” appears on the eagle’s breast on the most valuable versions of this coin. Some variations feature the “EB” on the wing.
In 2021, one 1787 Brasher Dubloon went for $9.36 million at auction. The coin’s value has increased markedly with every sale. Some believe it may be worth as much as $100 million in the future due to its rarity and extreme historical U.S. significance.
1822 Gold Capped Bust $5 Half Eagle ($8,360,337)
Among the rarest U.S. gold coins, only three of the 1822 Capped Bust $5 Half Eagle exist today. Over 17,700 coins were originally struck, but most were melted down for their gold. The Smithsonian Institute houses two of the surviving 1822 Capped Bust $5 Half Eagles, while one remains in private hands.
The single coin of this type that remains in private possession is the finest specimen of the three. It carries an AU-50 grade from the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Carefully preserved, the coin has passed through only three collections over the past 115 years. Virgil Brand, Louis Eliasberg, and D. Brent Pogue have previously owned the coin. In March 2021, this coin sold for $8.4 million, setting a record for the U.S. minted gold coins sold at public auction.
1870-S Indian Princess Head Gold $3 ($6,804,179)
The 1870-S Indian Princess Head Gold $3 coin presents an intriguing mystery that only adds to its value. Documents indicate that only one of these coins exists and that it was to go into the cornerstone of the San Francisco Mint building. However, this coin appeared mysteriously in the 1911 William H. Woodin sale. Some claim this is an undocumented duplicate of the coin in the cornerstone. Others believe the original coin never made it into the cornerstone.
The coin was graded EF-40, meaning it is in extremely fine condition. It has a pebbled appearance, suggesting that it was used as jewelry or in a key chain at some point. It also features a hand-cut die mark believed to have been added after the coin arrived in San Francisco. The coin is in the private collection of Louis Eliasberg.
1913 Liberty Head V Nickel ($5,250,100)
Unauthorized by the U.S. Mint, there are only five examples of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel. Charles E. Barber designed it, and it was minted from 1883 to 1913. In February 1913, the Indian Head nickel replaced this design. The Mint has no record of Liberty Head nickels being produced in 1913, which is part of what makes these pieces so popular.
There are many stories of how the coins came to be. Some suggest that Samuel Brown, the original owner of the coins and a former U.S. Mint employee, clandestinely struck them and stole them from the Mint. Others suggest that the coins may have been struck as trial pieces.
If you’re fascinated by the rich history of U.S. coins, we look forward to working with you. Here at Las Vegas Jewelry and Coin Buyers, we both purchase and sell U.S. coins. Learn more about our collection online or come in and show us your own.
Image by portableantiquities is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0
Tags: US Coins