Numismatics, or the hobby of collecting coins, is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. It is really amazing that a piece of metal comes to represent a higher value than its real worth. Well, that’s money for you. But there are some coins that value more than one could imagine, as much as millions of dollars. The value of a coin depends on the historical importance and rarity of the piece, and even minting errors.
Here is a list of top 10 rarest and most valuable coins in the world.
10. 1344 Edward III florin
Also known as Double Leopard, the Florin was introduced in 1344 by English king Edward III. The coin had a value of 6 shillings and was aimed to be used across all Europe. The obverse of the coin depicted the King enthroned beneath a canopy, with two leopards’ heads at the sides and the reverse shows the Royal cross within a quatrefoil and a leopard in each spandrel. The coin, however, was withdrawn only a few months later. It is probably the rarest coin in the history of British numismatics. Only three specimens of this coin are known to exist currently. One piece is privately owned, which was sold at auction in July 2006 for $6, 80,000, record price for a British coin. The other two are exhibited in the British Museum.
9. 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagle Ultra High Relief
This coin was released in with face value of $20 in 1907. The coin was designed by renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Its high relief rendered the coins difficult to be struck, and only about two dozen pieces were produced. These are known as ‘Ultra High Relief’ specimens now. Later the design was modified many times and the coin continued till 1933. Two specimens of the 1907 coin are housed in the Smithsonian museum. One specimen was sold at an auction in 2005 for nearly $3 million.
8. 1822 Half Eagle
The 1822 Half Eagle is one of the rarest coins in the history of numismatics. It was released in $5 denomination by the U.S. Mint. The Capped Head Half Eagle on the coin was designed by John Reich. Around 17,796 pieces of this gold coin were produced, but there are only three specimens known to exist now. Two of them are housed by the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution. The other specimen was sold in 1982 for nearly seven hundred thousand USD.
7. Liberty Head Nickel
The Liberty Head nickel is a 5-cent coin issued in 1913. It was produced without the authorization of the United States Mint, and in a very limited numbers. The existence of the coins became public knowledge only in 1920, all of which were owned by Samuel Brown, a former employee of the Mint. A specimen of the liberty nickel became the first coin to acquire a price of US$100,000 in 1972. In 1996, another specimen became the first to break the million-US$ barrier. Only five specimens of the coin exist now. A specimen was sold for $3.7 million in 2010.
6. 1804 Silver Dollar
The sixth place in the list of most valuable coins is occupied by 1804 silver dollar. These coins were not actually minted in 1804, but in the 1830s. Featuring the bust of Liberty, this dollar coin was produced as part of diplomatic gifts for Edmund Roberts in his diplomatic missions to Siam and Muscat. These coins are divided into three ‘Classes’, and only 15 specimens are known to exist. The Class I specimens are the most valuable ones. One specimen of Class I, previously owned by the Sultan of Muscat, was sold for $4.1 million in 1999.
5. 2007 Queen Elizabeth II
Produced in 2007 by the Royal Canadian Mint, it was the first coin in the world with a face value of a million dollars. Each specimen was made of 100 kg gold with 99.99% purity. Depicting Queen Elizabeth II on one side and three Maple leaves on the opposite, they were made to promote Canada’s new line of Maple Leaf gold coins. Five of the coins have been purchased so far. One specimen was sold for $4.02 million at an auction in Vienna in 2009.
4. 1787 Brasher Doubloon
This is a gold coin made by the goldsmith Ephraim Brasher from New York. He produced the coins on his own, along with copper coins, when the New York state legislature rejected his appeal to mint new copper coins. There are a few varieties, based on Brasher’s hallmark on the coins. One specimen which has the mark on eagle’s breast was sold for $7.4 million in 2011 and one with marks on the eagle’s wings was sold for $4.5 million in 2014. Only a few coins of these types exist now.
3. 1933 Double Eagle
This 20-dollar gold coin was minted in 1933 by the United States. However, it was withdrawn in the same year, despite minting more than four hundred thousand specimens. Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin depicted the Lady Liberty, holding a torch and olive branch. The coins were never circulated and almost all the pieces were melted down, although a few were stolen and got into the hands of collectors. Some of them were recovered and destroyed. Less than 15 specimens exist now, including one that was sold for $7.59 million in an auction in 2002. U.S. National Numismatic Collection houses two and ten others are held in Fort Knox.
2. Flowing Hair Dollar
First minted in 1794, the Flowing Hair dollar was the first dollar coin issued by the United States federal government. It was designed by Robert Scot, its size and weight resembling those of the then popular Spanish dollar. The coin, composed of silver and copper, sported a bust of liberty on one side and an eagle on the other. It was replaced the next year. The historical importance and rarity makes it a favourite of the collectors. In 2013, a specimen of the 1794 mint was auctioned for a record $10 million.
1. Double Eagle (1849)
With only one specimen existing, this coin is probably the rarest and most valuable coin in U.S. history. It is one of the two trial pieces that heralded the era of the $20 coins, nicknamed Double Eagles. The coin was minted in 1850, though it bears the year 1849. Its production coincided with the beginning of the California gold rush. The existing specimen of this coin is now preserved at National Numismatic Collections at the Smithsonian museum. It is valued at almost $20 million.