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10 Rare Coins Worth Millions

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 01/10/2012 @ 12:34 pm In Investing | 6 Comments

It’s rare that your collectibles [3] will bring in thousands of dollars, much less millions. However, there are some items that, due to their rarity and/or history, are valued at several millions of dollars. Some of the most interesting collectibles are coins.

While your run of the mill coins aren’t going to bring you a great deal of riches, there are some collector’s items that are worth more than their face value. One example is pennies that were minted prior to 1983 [4]. These pennies are mostly copper — instead of being mostly zinc like pennies minted in more recent years. However, even those pennies can’t compare with some of the most interesting and rare coins in history.

Wikipedia has a list of the 10 most expensive coins sold [5]. These coins have an interesting history, and one of them even sold quite recently:

  1. 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar: The first dollar coin issued by the U.S. federal government was based on Spanish gold coins, which were widely circulated. States had their own mints, and other coins from different countries were also circulated. While the Flowing Hair Dollar didn’t completely replace other coinage, it did represent the first time the federal government became involved in creating money. The last buyer (a private sale) for this coin paid $7.85 million.
  2. 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle: Unlike the Flowing Hair dollar, the Double Eagle was sold at auction and is the most expensive coin sold at auction, for $7.50 million. This is a $20 gold coin that never circulated officially. Many were actually melted down after the 1933 end to the gold standard in the U.S.
  3. 1787 Brasher Doubloon EB on Breast: George Washington’s goldsmith neighbor cast this coin, modeled after Spanish doubloons. Even though not officially circulated by the U.S. government, the Brasher doubloon is thought to be the first gold coin in America that was denominated in dollars. This coin recently sold for $7.4 million [6].
  4. 1804 Class I Silver Dollar: Interestingly, the coins bearing the 1804 date didn’t actually appear until 1834. The government began presenting them as gifts to foreign rulers. Some coins from Class I have been traced to the King of Siam, and legend has it that a Class I dollar was given to Anna Leonowens. In any case a Class I silver dollar sold for $4.14 million.
  5. 1804 Class I Silver Dollar (Queller’s Collection): This specific silver dollar sold for nearly $3.74 million.
  6. 1913 Liberty Head Nickel: One five of these rare, limited issue nickels are known to be in existence — none of them in perfect condition. These coins are so prized that there is speculation that a perfect coin could be worth nearly $20 million. The most expensive of these sold for about $3.74 million.
  7. 1907 Double Eagle: This Saint-Gaudens $20 coin, in ultra-high relief, sold for $2.99 million.
  8. 1787 Brasher Doubloon EB on Wing: Unlike the Brasher with the stamp on the chest, most of the surviving doubloons cast by the goldsmith have the stamp on the wing. This means that the this type of coin is rarer. However, that didn’t stop one of the coins from selling for $2.415 million.
  9. 1804 Class III Silver Dollar: Most Class III 1804 silver dollars were actually made between 1858 and 1860. There are some design differences from the Class I versions. One of the Class III silver dollars sold for $2.3 million.
  10. 1907 Rolled Edge Eagle: This particular gold coin design once sold for $2.185 million.

As you can see, the more unique the coin, the more it sells for. Additionally, there are coins that are valuable by virtue of casting mistakes and other quirks. Your “regular” coins aren’t likely to fetch a great deal, but with the right collection, you can still, with the right characteristics, find value.

(Photo: TahoeSunsets [7])


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[3] collectibles: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/collection-worth.html

[4] pennies that were minted prior to 1983: http://plantingmoneyseeds.com/should-you-forget-gold-and-hoard-pennies-instead/

[5] 10 most expensive coins sold: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_coins

[6] $7.4 million: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ap-exclusive-extremely-rare-gold-brasher-doubloon-minted-in-1787-fetches-74-million/2011/12/12/gIQA13V1oO_story.html

[7] TahoeSunsets: http://www.flickr.com/photos/raparker/2844940740/

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