What are the most valuable U.S. coins? That’s a common question, usually asked by people who don’t own any of them and likely never will.
Obviously, the most valuable U.S. coins are also going to be among the rarest, as there is a fairly direct correlation between value and rarity. Not everything that is rare is valuable, but pretty much any coin that is valuable is rare.
U.S. coins are among the most heavily collected coins in the world, and even collectors outside the U.S. are interested in owning some of the more well-known collectible coins. That’s particularly true of gold coins, which are relatively rare.
Such lists are subjective, and always likely to change, as coins change hands all the time. Still, the coins listed below are among the most sought after and expensive U.S. coins ever made.
1933 Double Eagle ($20 gold piece) – While nearly a half a million of these $20 gold pieces were minted in early 1933, exactly 0 were released to circulation, as Franklin Roosevelt signed an order shortly after taking office in January of that year that eliminated U.S. gold currency. All of the coins minted were ordered to be melted down, but a few are known to have survived.
These coins are not legal to own, but the U.S. Government made an exception in 2002 for a single specimen, which sold at auction for $7.59 million. The price would likely have been higher, but rumors suggest that other examples exist, all in private hands of collectors who know how to keep a secret.
1913 Liberty Head nickel – This was the year that the Liberty Head nickel was replaced with the Buffalo Nickel, but 5 examples were minted by a mint employee. The last sale of one of these brought more than $3 million.
1804 Silver dollar – There were reportedly some 18,000 silver dollars minted in 1804, but it appears that those might have used old dies bearing the 1803 date. In the 1834, the U.S. government wanted to prepare a complete set of currently circulating U.S. coins for the king of Siam, and at that time, no silver dollars had been minted since 1804, but were still listed as “current” coinage.
Someone at the mint produced a handful of silver dollars in 1834 bearing the 1804 date for inclusion in the set. In the 1850s, a few more were struck by a Mint employee and perhaps 35 or so examples were made in total.
All are very rare today, and the last known sale took place in 1999, with a sale price in excess of $4 million.
1794 Silver dollar – The first silver dollar produced in the U.S., and one of the rarest, with only some 2000 made. You’ll likely have to pay something on the order of $1 million if you’d like to own one in presentable condition.
There are other very rare coins, and prices increase all the time due to collector demand. These are simply a few examples of some of the more highly sought out examples. There are plenty of others, including the 1907 Double Eagle and a few experimental pieces.
If you’re going to put together a world class coin collection today, you need millions to do it.