Most Valuable Coins Sold at Auction

A 2004 Australian coin depicting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Evidence of coin collecting dates back to the time of the Romans. Archaeological artifacts show that even emperor Augustus held a fondness for old and foreign coins and often bestowed them as gifts to friends. While it’s uncertain how ancient people cultivated their collections, in current times, coin auctions often offer collectors unique and rare treasures. In fact, some of the most valuable coins sold at auction for staggering prices. 

From commemorative coins to antique gold doubloons, coin auctions showcase coins from around the world and across time. Not all coins at auction are historical, though. Current gold and silver coins are also sold at auction. Old coins or new aside, nearly all are more valuable than their denomination was ever worth.  

Follow along as we discuss some of the most valuable coins sold at auction and some factors that help determine the value of these coins. 

A coin’s value goes beyond its denomination

If Roman coin collectors showcase anything, it is that people have long identified that certain coins hold more value than others. Rare coins offer collectors unique pieces to showcase in their collections, which is perhaps why some of the more coveted coins have sold for millions of dollars. The top three most valuable coins ever sold at auction are prime examples of this.

The 1933 Double Eagle

The 1933 “Double Eagle” reigns as the most valuable coin sold at auction at $18.9 million. This was the last gold coin struck for circulation in the U.S. and features Lady Liberty and an eagle in flight on either side of the coin. It was never issued though, and in 1934, the U.S. Mint ordered the melting of all 1933 Double Eagles as the country shifted off the gold standard. This particular coin survived the melting and a tangle of lawsuits and is the only one of its kind that can be owned by a private person.

The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar

The first-ever Silver Dollar coin struck by the U.S. is believed to be the extremely rare 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. This coin sold at auction for $12 million in early 2022 and was the first coin to break the $10 million mark at sale in 2013. This Flowing Hair Silver Dollar is the only example of the 140 existing silver dollars that is an example designated Specimen by Professional Coin Grading Service (PGCS). 

The 1787 Brasher Doubloon

The 1787 Brasher Doubloon was sold in 2021 for $9.36 million. Named for New York goldsmith and silversmith Ephraim Brasher, this coin is part of a rare, privately struck gold series created to resemble the circulating Hispanic coins in the 1740s. The coin’s design features the date of production as well as the state seal and an American eagle with a shield. Certain versions of the coin are rarer than others depending on specific characteristics.

All three of these coins are without a doubt extremely special finds, but what exactly goes into determining their value?

How is a coin’s value determined?

Before a coin is sold at auction, it must go through an expert valuation process. There are four different types of value coins can have: 

  • Book or “catalog” value
  • Buy price
  • Retail value
  • Wholesale value

Several factors can affect a coin’s value, such as rarity, demand, and condition (or grade.)

  • Rarity refers to the mintage of coins originally produced, as well as the number of those coins still in existence.
  • Demand can vary as the availability and popularity of coins rises and falls over the years. However, it’s important to understand the current demand to get the most accurate pricing at the time of appraisal. 
  • Condition, or grade, evaluates the physical quality and appearance of a coin. Specific standards are set to help professionals and the average collector alike define the grades of coins. Mint condition coins tend to be worth far more than those in poor condition. Knowing the grade of a coin is often pertinent to establishing its value.

Beyond these factors, the country of origin, date, and whether the coin is “general issue” or “commemorative” also play into the value of a coin. This is why it’s also important to understand the difference between mint state coins and proof coins.

Thanks to the plethora of online resources, even amateur coin collectors can get an idea for finding how much a coin is worth. PGCS offers price guides for nearly 350,000 U.S. coins. The U.S. Mint’s official website also offers an abundance of information on coins. 

Still, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a professional coin appraiser as they can accurately grade coins and present a more precise estimation of value. This is especially important when buying or selling gold, silver, or historical coins.

How do I purchase gold coins?

While a $10 million coin may not be in your budget, it’s easier to purchase extraordinary coins than you might think. It’s thrilling to buy gold coins and own a unique treasure. Furthermore, gold coins can also help in protecting your wealth. Gold, silver, and other precious metals have long stood the test of time as reliable stores of wealth as they maintain value over time. Not to mention, gold coins offer buyers an easy way to purchase gold. Gold and silver coins can help protect the value of your assets, making them a possible method to begin incorporating precious metals into your portfolio.

However, before you buy, do your research. There are many types of coins that people may choose to purchase for different reasons. Understanding the difference between types of coins is crucial to your purchase process and will help you identify which option is the best for your own needs. 

Regardless of what type of coin you purchase, it’s important to educate yourself on the value, price, and potential benefits of owning coins.Get more information about buying gold and other premium coins.

Most Valuable Coins Sold at Auction
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