What are the most valuable US coins ever bought?

Wyatt McDonald

Jan 24th, 2024 · 3 min read

At Coinfully, we see special coins every day – it’s always a thrill to catch sight of something rare or a specimen in mint condition.

Some coins, however, are truly mythic. As collectors, we’re always on the hunt for that jackpot coin, the game-changing discovery of something truly breathtaking in its rarity or value.

Below are the five most valuable US coins ever bought or sold. Your chances of ever finding anything that comes remotely near these coins are minuscule – but that tiny chance is one of the many reasons we all play the game…

1. The 1933 double eagle – $18,900,000

Face value – $20

The story – They made 445,500 of this gold coin, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens – and then ordered all but two of them to be melted down under the 1934 Gold Reserve Act. They were never circulated, but around 20 were rescued from the smelting oven by thieves who sold them to collectors. Nine of those 20 were recovered and destroyed – so we’ve got the two spared coins + the 20 stolen ones – the nine melted ones = 13 in existence. The two spared coins are in the U.S. National Numismatic Collection. Ten others are held in the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. The other one was sold to an anonymous buyer at auction in June 2021 for $18.9 million, making it the most expensive coin ever sold. Side note – if you were to come into contact with one of these coins, you’d find yourself hunted by their guardians – the United States Secret Service.

2. The 1794 Flowing Hair dollar – $10,000,000

Face value – $1

The story – The Flowing Hair dollar – named after Lady Liberty’s long locks on one side (there’s an eagle on the other) – was the first dollar coin issued by the US federal government. This one was designed by Robert Scot and only lasted a couple of years, being replaced by the Draped Bust dollar in 1795. By the early 1990s, it was estimated that there were no more than 130 Flowing Hair dollars left in existence. The example in question is believed to have been one of the first coins off the die at the newly established US Mint in Philadelphia. It was last sold at auction for $10,016,875 in January 2013, the highest selling price of any coin in history at that time.

3. The 1822 Half Eagle – $8,400,000

Face value – $5

The story – The Half Eagle – so called because at $5 it is half the value of the Eagle coin – was produced for circulation between 1795 and 1929. It was the first gold coin minted in the US, and the 1822 version features Lady Liberty on one side and an eagle waving its wings on the other. The example in question was virtually uncirculated and was once owned by Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr, famous for pulling together the only complete collection of US coins ever assembled. After changing hands a couple more times, it was sold via Stacks Bowers in March 2021 for $8.4 million.

4. The 1804 dollar or Bowed Liberty Dollar – $7,680,000

Face value – $1

The story – You’ll have to stick with us on this one because this is a confusing tale, to say the least. No dollar coins were actually produced with ‘1804’ appearing on them as production of silver dollars stopped in March 1804 to allow the US Mint to produce more lower denomination coins. Those that were produced in the first three months of the year said ‘1803’ on them. Skip ahead to 1832, and the US was looking for gifts with which to sweeten government trade deals in Asia and settled on a complete set of circulating US coins. There were no new examples of silver dollars to include, so Mint officials produced brand new coins with 1804 stamped on them for use in the diplomatic set. Several more were produced, with about 15 known to currently exist. The example sold for the price above was delivered to Said bin Sultan Al-Said, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman, in 1835.

5. The Paquet 1861 Liberty Head double eagle – $7,200,000

Face value – $20

The story – There’s only two of these known to collectors today, making them one of the rarest coins in American numismatics. Mint engraver Anthony C. Paquet worked at the Philadelphia Mint between 1857 and 1864 and is most famous for his 1861 double eagle, although he also designed the first Congressional Medal of Honor. This one sold in Dallas in August 2021 for $7.2million – the other went for $1.6million in 2014.

If you’ve got coins you want valuing (we can’t promise figures like the above – but you never know!), at Coinfully, we offer a reliable, realistic and transparent online or in-person coin appraisal service.

Our customers know exactly what they’re dealing with and never feel like they are being taken for a ride. After all, we are coin collectors too, and we have a zero-pressure policy when you speak with our team.

If you’re looking for a coin valuation that’ll not only return a realistic current market price but also give you the reasoning behind that, request an appraisal or call our team today on 704-621-4893 for a no-obligation chat.

Alternatively, you can request an online coin valuation for a minimum-hassle, fast and reliable service. Upload a picture of your coins for your online appraisal here.

Wyatt McDonald President & Co-Founder of Coinfully. A student of numismatics and trained in the ANA Seminar in Denver, Wyatt is the face of Coinfully and a true expert. After spending a decade buying coins over the counter at a coin shop, he knew there had to be a better way, for everyone involved.

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