Many collectors can’t resist the allure of a rare and valuable coin. While most risk-averse gold investors will simply buy standard or well-known coins, rare coin enthusiasts typically hunt for unique, historical, or limited-edition coins to bulk up their portfolios. Such coins are often worth a fortune, and locating one is like hitting the jackpot for a dedicated numismatist.
Let’s look into ten of the most valuable coins in the world and what makes these coins particularly special.
#1 1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle
The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is a world-famous gold coin minted in the United States between 1907 and 1933. Its designer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, crafted this beautiful coin featuring an image of Liberty holding an olive branch and a torch. The eagle in flight is on the reverse side.
The coin’s composition is 90% gold and 10% copper, and it contains .96750 troy oz of gold. It was originally worth $20. Today, the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is typically valued at over $20,000,000!
#2 1913 Liberty Head Nickel
The 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel is an extremely rare coin of unauthorized mintage. Only five specimens still exist.
The coin shows Liberty’s head on the front and the letter “V” on the reverse side. Originally, these coins all belonged to Samuel Brown, a numismatist who sold them in 1924. However, the unique coins ended up in the collection of Colonel E. H. R. Green until his passing in 1936, when two coin dealers split the set.
Although the coin’s original face value was only five cents, its estimated current price is over $5,000,000.
#3 1787 Brasher Doubloon
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon is an extremely rare coin with tremendous historical value. It was the first-ever gold coin produced in the United States, way before federal mints existed.
Only seven specimens of the original coin exist, all created by Ephraim Brasher. He was a goldsmith and a neighbor of George Washington.
A Brasher Doubloon contains 26.6 grams of 22-carat gold. While it was priced at $15 at the time of its production, this coin is now worth over $10,000,000.
#4 1943 Lincoln Head Copper Penny
The United States minted the 1943 Lincoln Head Copper Penny during World War II. Nickel and copper were scarce at the time, so almost all 1943 pennies were steel coins. However, the mint accidentally used copper for one random batch of pennies.
Around 20 to 40 of the original 1943 Lincoln Head Copper Pennies still exist, most worth several hundred thousand. However, in 2010, one coin fetched $1,750,000 (in today’s prices, that’s over $2,300,000!)
#5 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, minted between 1794 and 1795, was the first silver U.S. dollar. In 2010, one of the earliest 1794 specimens sold for over $10,000,000, which made it the world’s most expensive coin at the time. Adjusted for inflation, it’s worth over $13,000,000 now.
The 26.96-gram coin consists of 90% silver and 10% copper. It shows the bust of Liberty on the front and an eagle surrounded by a wreath on the reverse side.
#6 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar
One of the most valuable coins in the world is the 732 Umayyad Gold Dinar, an ancient coin from 723 AD. About a dozen specimens of this rare Islamic coin exist. Unsurprisingly, one 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar fetches approximately $5,400,000 today.
This coin dates from the time of Yazid II, an Umayyad caliph, between 720 and 724 AD. It features intricate inscriptions, which scholars say refer to a mine northwest of Mecca and give the coin much historical importance. It’s the earliest Islamic coin to mention a place in today’s Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
#7 2007 Canadian Gold Maple Leaf
The 2007 Canadian Gold Maple Leaf (the Big Maple Leaf) is a novelty coin minted in Canada. The 100-kg coin of 999.99 pure gold was the largest coin in the world until the one-ton Australian Kangaroo appeared in 2011.
Six Big Maple Leafs exist, each worth over $5,300,000. The giant coin features an image of Queen Elizabeth II and a suitably intricate maple leaf design.
#8 1928 China Silver Dollar, Year 17
This Republic Chang Tso-lin silver dollar is a Chinese rarity coin. It sold for $2,160,000 at an auction in 2021 and continues to generate interest among collectors.
The obverse side of the coin depicts Chang Tso-lin, or Zhang Zuolin, a warlord who dominated Manchuria between 1916 and 1928. The reverse side shows two crossed flags: one of the Republic of China, the other of the Wuchang Uprising.
Collectors prize this silver dollar for its scarcity and historical significance.
#9 1787 Fugio Cent
The 1787 Fugio cent, also called the Franklin cent, was the first coin circulated in the United States. This 0.36-oz copper coin features a sundial under a sun next to the Latin word “fugio,” the classic message that “time flies.”
The words “Mind Your Business” appear at the bottom of the coin. On the reverse side, it also says “We Are One,” surrounded by a 13-link chain symbolizing the first thirteen states.
Fugio cents may cost a few hundred to tens of thousands, depending on the specimen’s condition.
#10 1343 Edward III Florin
Made in 1343, the Edward III Florin is a rare historical coin worth over $6,800,000. The 7-gram coin, or Double Leopard, bears an image of King Edward III, seated on a throne with a leopard head on each side. The reverse side shows the Royal Cross.
The Edward III Florin was only in circulation for a few months, with only three known specimens left.
What Coins Are Collectors Looking For?
The list of ten coins above is only a drop in a sizeable ocean. Anyone can buy silver or gold coins, but finding the most valuable coins in the world takes time and skill. Collectors will typically look for rare coins with historical or cultural significance, so let’s look into a few elements that make a coin collectible.
Historical and Iconic Coins
Antique coins, or coins minted in a specific historically meaningful year, are always popular. The collectible coin may have an entire chapter of history tied to its design, minting, and circulation. For instance, it’s easy to buy a regular American Eagle coin, but those from the first mint year of 1986 are much rarer and more valuable.
Errors in coin minting can occur because of equipment deterioration or slip-ups. However, while unintentional, this uniqueness is irresistible to savvy coin collectors.
Low Mintage and Limited Edition
“Mintage” refers to the highest number of specific coins produced in a single year. Depending on the coin, this number can range from a few dozen to tens of thousands or more. The lower a coin’s mintage is, the more valuable it will be.
For example, limited edition coins are often commemorative coins released in a small number to mark an event. Such coins are often the highlights of a valuable coin collection.
“W” Mint Mark
Factors Influencing Coin Values
What else makes a coin worth collecting? Here are a few ideas:
The rarer a coin is, the more collectors value it. Some of the most prized coins in the world have fetched millions of dollars at auctions and private sales.
What would place a popular coin on the list of the most valuable coins in the world other than rarity? A good story, of course.
An antique coin can be like a miniature history essay, conveying royal titles, dynasties, and notable achievements. Commemorative coins often mark a significant event and become sought-after pieces that fetch high prices, especially if only a few of them are left.
Uncirculated coins are the gold standard for collecting since they will be in pristine condition with no evidence of wear and tear. However, the best coins still fetch high prices after they have been in use, as long as their design elements, lettering, and date are clearly visible.
Some collectors focus on ancient coins, like those from the Roman era or Lancaster, Plantagenet, or Tudor coins (restrictions on importing ancient coins to the United States do apply).
Buyer’s Guide To The Most Valuable Coins
Collectible coins are often worth a lot to the right buyer. However, before you spend a small fortune on a single coin, make sure you know what you’re buying and how to protect your investment. Here’s what Learn About Gold suggests:
Fraud and scams are common in the collectible coin trade. Always verify authenticity before you invest a significant amount of money in a coin.
A careful examination of mint markings or a magnet test can help you spot counterfeit gold coins.
Provenance, or coin pedigree, retraces an old coin’s history. Professional traders in historical and antique coins often maintain detailed records that provide an account of every coin’s provenance.
Before you spend a lot of money on a coin collection, do some market research and check auction prices to find out whether you’re getting a good deal. There can be significant price gaps between different sellers, even on the same coin from the same mint year. Market research also helps you learn whether you can sell a coin for a profit down the road.
Storage and Preservation
There’s no point in acquiring a collection of valuable coins if you can’t store your items safely and under the proper conditions. For example, check the following:
- Keep coins away from liquids, humidity, and high pollution.
- Store coins at a stable temperature.
- Don’t keep coins in cellars, basements, and other areas with high humidity.
- Consider keeping valuable coins in a safe or a bank’s safety deposit box.
If you store valuable coins at home, consider purchasing collectibles insurance to cover theft, fire, and natural disasters.
One last tip would be to practice caution when buying rare or collectible coins. Does a coin deal seem too good to be true? It usually is.
If you’re unsure whether a coin is genuine, a professional appraiser can determine the coin’s value and help you avoid coin scams or dealers of ill repute.
Start Investing in Gold Today
These days, anyone can join the hunt for the most valuable coins in the world. Just choose to add precious metals to your investment portfolio.
Would you like to explore different gold IRA options or start investing in gold and other precious metals today? Contact Learn About Gold about finding a gold IRA partner and curating an impressive portfolio for a lasting legacy.