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How the Top 10 List Was Selected
There are many ways to determine the value of an item. The best way to determine the value of coins is to research coins that were actually sold and record the prices that they realized. Some coins are unique, housed in museums and will never be available for sale to the general public. Since these coins are considered "priceless," they are not included in this list of the world's most valuable coins.
Occasionally, mints make extremely unusual coins as marketing stunts with the intent that it will never be sold. For example, The Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin made by the Perth Mint in Australia in 2011. After a publicity tour in Europe, the coin is now on permanent display in The Perth Mint’s Gold Exhibition. Canada also made extremely large gold coins, mostly for publicity, but they did sell five of them to various investors and collectors.
Additionally, only coins that were publicly traded (for example, auctions or public sales) are listed. It is impossible to verify coins that were sold via private treaty and are therefore not included in this top 10 list of the world's most valuable coins.
All prices listed are in U.S. dollars and include any auction fees and commissions that the auction house charged to the buyer.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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#10 1913 Liberty Head Nickel - Hawaii Five-O Star
Price Realized: $3,737,500
Date Sold: January 7, 2010
Sold By: Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas (Auction #1136, Lot #2455)
Researchers widely believe that five 1913 Liberty Head nickels were struck by a mint employee in the middle of the night. They are not sure how coin dies for a 1913 Liberty Head nickel were created since Buffalo Nickels were first produced in 1913. However, five of these nickels found their way into various public and private coin collections.
Starring in one of the 1970s television series Hawaii Five-O apparently did not help this coin to increase in value. This coin was used for close-up shots for the television show while producers used a common Liberty Head nickel for action shots where the date could not be discerned. They feared the risk of damaging a rare and expensive coin was too great of a risk to take.
Auction Listing: 1913 5C Liberty PR64 NGC Olsen SpecimenContinue to 3 of 11 below.
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#9 1804 Bust Dollar - Class I (Dexter-Pogue Specimen)
Price Realized: $3,865,750
Date Sold: March 31, 2017
Sold By: Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby's
Once again the "King of American Coins" takes one of the top 10 spots on the list of The World's Rarest and Most Valuable Coins. This coin was auctioned as part of the D. Brent Pogue coin collection auction jointly by Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s over the span of two and a half years. This specimen has a small D punched in a cloud on the reverse of the coin indicating that it's promenades belonged to James V. Dexter, a wealthy numismatist who owned it for 14 years at the end of the 19th century.
The entire collection realized $106.69 million sold across five separate auctions. There was another 1804 silver dollar in the Pogue coin collection (The Sultan of Muscat-Watters-Brand-Childs-Pogue) that is the finest known specimen, but unfortunately, a bid of $10.81 million was not high enough for the coin to sell in the May 24, 2016 auction.
Auction Listing: The Legendary Dexter Specimen of the 1804 DollarContinue to 4 of 11 below.
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#8 1804 Bust Dollar - Class I (Mickley-Hawn-Queller Specimen)
Price Realized: $3,877,500
Date Sold: August 9, 2013
Sold By: Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas (Auction #1188, Lot #5699)
This is the same coin that is listed as the #10 Most Valuable Coins in the World above that sold for $3,737,500 in April of 2008. Unlike the Hawaii Five-O 1913 Liberty Head Nickel that lost almost $500,000 when it sold a second time, this owner made a $140,000 profit when he sold it.
There are only 15 known authentic specimens that were struck at three different times. By closely examining the coins, professional numismatists classified each of the fifteen coins into one of three classifications: Class I or "Original," Class II or "First Restrike" and Class III or "Second Restrike." The Class I coin has the highest population with eight coins known to exist. The Class II is a unique coin, and the Class III has six known specimens. Regardless of their classification, these coins always set records when they cross the auction block.
Auction Listing: The Mickley-Hawn-Queller Class I; Original 1804 Dollar, PR62 PCGSContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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#7 $1 Million Gold Canadian Maple Leaf
Price Realized: $4,020,000
Date Sold: June 2010
Sold By: Dorotheum Auction House, Vienna, Austria
In 2007 the Royal Canadian Mint produced the world's first million dollar coin. The coin measures 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter by 3 cm (1.2 inches) thick and contains 100 kilograms (220 pounds or 3,215 troy ounces) of 99.999% pure gold. The idea for the coin was originally conceived as a centerpiece to promote the Royal Canadian Mint's new line of 99.999% pure one Troy ounce Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins.
To date, five of these majestic gold bullion coins have been purchased by investors from around the world. The last coin to sell at a public auction sold for 3.27 million euros (USD 4.02 million) at an auction in Vienna at the Dorotheum auction house.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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#6 1804 Silver Dollar - Class I (The Watters-Childs Specimen)
Price Realized: $4,140,000
Date Sold: August 30, 1999
Sold By: Bowers & Merena
This specimen of the "King of U.S. Coins" is the finest known example of the 1804 Silver Dollar and is graded Proof-68 by Professional Coin Grading Service. When this coin sold in August of 1999, it became the world's most valuable coin to date. It easily beat the previous record-holder (another 1804 silver dollar") by over two times the amount. Some of the previous owners included: The Sultan of Muscat, C.A. Watters, Henry Chapman, Virgil Brand, Charles and Ruth Green, Charles Frederick Childs and the Pogue Family.
In May 2016 this finest known 1804 Silver Dollar, originally owned by the Sultan of Muscat in 1835 and then by the Childs Family Collection for more than 50 years, was once again put on the auction block by D. Brent Pogue. A bid of $10,575,000, the most ever offered for a coin, was placed by phone for this 1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar, but it failed to reach the consignor’s reserve price, Sotheby's auction house said in a statement.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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#5 1913 Liberty Head Nickel - Morton-Smith-Eliasberg Specimen
Price Realized: $4,560,000
Date Sold: August 2018
Sold By: Stack's Bowers
This specimen of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel is by far the finest known example of only five specimens. The Dr. William Morton-Smith/Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection specimen came to auction in August 2018 at the ANA U.S. Coins Auction in Philadelphia, PA. This specimen has a highly mirrorlike surface in the field. This is the only coin of the five that exhibit this characteristic. Since no one mint records exist for the production of this coin is the cause of some controversy. It has been graded by professional coin graders varying from MS-62 Proof-64.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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#3 1787 Brasher Doubloon - EB on Breast
Price Realized: $7,395,000
Date Sold: December 2011
Sold By: Blanchard and Company
Although this coin was not sold at a coin auction, Blanchard and Company placed it into the hands of a private collector for over $7,000,000. Unlike the previous 1787 Brasher Doubloon (#4) that have Ephraim Brasher's counter stamp on the eagle's wing, this coin has his mark on the breast of the eagle. The coin was minted in 1787 by Ephraim Brasher, a silversmith and goldsmith in New York City, and at that time it contained $15 worth of gold. Brasher also made a small number of gold coins we believe were intended for public circulation since the U.S. Mint had not begun operations yet.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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#4 1787 Brasher Doubloon - EB on Wing
Price Realized: $4,582,500
Date Sold: January 9, 2014
Sold By: Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas (Auction #1201, Lot #5100)
Ephraim Brasher was a goldsmith and silversmith in the New York City area in the late 1700s. Since the United States Mint was not operational yet, the colonies resorted to minting their own coins. Private entrepreneurs such as Brasher minted some of these coins. Many numismatists, including such luminaries as Henry Chapman and Q. David Bowers, acknowledge the Brasher Doubloon as the most important coin in the world. Brasher created his New York Style Brasher doubloon in 1787, and the specifications for his coin are almost identical to the Lima doubloons and are very close to those of the earlier Spanish coins of that period.
Auction Listing: 1787 DBLN Brasher Doubloon, EB on Wing, W-5840, MS63 NGC. CAC.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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#2 1933 Double Eagle
Price Realized: $7,590,020
Date Sold: July 30, 2002
Sold By: Sotheby's and Stack's
In 1933 the United States was in the midst of . Almost 500,000 twenty dollar gold pieces were minted in that year. President Roosevelt issued an executive order recalling all gold coins from the general public and ordering the mint to melt all the $20 gold pieces that were still in its possession. Somehow, a handful of 1933 dated $20 gold pieces escaped from the mint's vaults even though they were never officially issued. Currently they are illegal to own and will be seized by the United States government. Except one, that was originally owned by King Farouk of Egypt. After a long legal battle, the Mint and the private owner agreed to sell the coin and split the proceeds. The buyer had to pay an additional $20 to the mint in order to monetize the coin so it will be illegal to own.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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#1 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
Price Realized: $10,016,875
Date Sold: January 24, 2013
Sold By: Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Sold by the auction firm Stack's Bowers in the January 2013 New York Americana Sale, this coin set the world record for the sale of a single coin. Numismatic researchers believe it was the very first silver dollar ever minted by the United States.
The United States Mint first opened in 1792, and only minted copper coins and some pattern coins for the first two years. Coin collectors have preserved this pristine example in its original mint state condition for over 200 years. It's not very often that you come across a coin this old and in almost perfect condition.
Of the entire known population of 1794 silver dollars, this is the only example to exhibit Proof-like reflectivity in the fields. When viewed out of its encapsulation, the fields flash with an astounding deep mirror reflection, providing a remarkable contrast to the fully frosted devices. Several 1795 silver dollars have the silver plugs but also show adjustment marks. On this coin, adjustment marks are light but noted on both the obverse and reverse, primarily around the rim. The term "once in a lifetime opportunity" is seen now and again, but for this piece, it is especially relevant, according to a press release by Stack's Bowers Galleries.
Auction Listing: Stack's Bowers - The January 2013 New York Americana Sale Lot #13094