We all know that certain coins can be worth much more than their face value. Case in point: The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver, the very first dollar coin issued by the United States federal government, may have only been worth a buck up front, but it fetched a cool $10 million (the highest selling price of any coin in history) at auction in 2013. It’s these kinds of stories that keep numismatic experts and collectors investing in the rare, special and collectible coins that often exponentially exceed their face values. High-value coins possess worth not because of intrinsic value, but because of rarity, historical significance and age, among other factors.
With the help of our friends at CoinTrackers.com, let’s take a look at some of the most valuable coins in U.S. currency. You never know—perhaps one is buried somewhere in your coin jar!
1. 1913 Liberty Head Nickel: $4.4 Million—As one of the most coveted coins of American numismatics, the Liberty Head Nickel trumps the rest. There are only five known 1913 Liberty nickels, and if you’ve got one, you can bank on a return of over $4 million. Why so scarce, you ask? Well, that’s part of the fun! No one knows exactly why these five coins were produced, but theorists surmise that they were made in trial or in private minting. Mysterious indeed!
2. 1870 S Liberty Seated Dollar: $1.9 Million—This 150-year-old coin is no chump change. It’s famous for its rarity, as there are only 12 survivors known to exist. While all 1870 Liberty Seated Dollars are worth something, it’s the S variety that’s the real winner. This is because that year coins were minted with no mark or the CC (Carson City) and S (San Francisco) marks, but the S-marked ones are considered the most rare and valuable.
3. 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar: $825,000—We already know that one of these coins went for $10 million at a public auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries. But this year’s Flowing Hair Dollars aren’t that rare compared with some of the examples above. Experts believe there are between 120 and 130 in existence, so you can expect yours to earn you over $800,000. The coin that broke records in 2013 was the finest known specimen of the 1794 Flowing Hair, graded as a Specimen-66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.
4. 1838 O Capped Bust Half Dollar: $745,000—This rare beauty was one of the very first coins struck at the New Orleans Mint (marked by the O mint mark), and only about 20 were ever produced due to the fact that the Mint was having some issues with equipment. Because so few coins were produced, and only 12 are thought to be still in existence, an 1838 O Half Dollar in mint condition could go for over $700,000 at auction.
5. 1933 Indian Head Gold Eagle: $600,000—The primary reason why this year of Indian Head Gold Eagle coins is so beloved is because it was the final year that it was minted. Additionally, these coins have historical significance due to the fact that President Roosevelt banned gold ownership in the same year. One of these Indian Heads, thought to be the finest known example, actually sold for over $800,000 at auction in 2016.
6. 1817 Capped Bust Half Dollar: $500,000—Though the U.S. Mint produced many half dollars in 1817, there are less than 10 in existence of this variety, marked 1817/4. Those with this mark have a 7 over 4 mark in the date, creating a unique design. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who has that specific Capped Bust Half Dollar in good condition, you can bet it’ll bring home a half million dollars or more!
Investing in Collectible Coins
The great thing about coins is that you can expect them to persevere well into the future, ensuring that they remain of value for generations. Investing in rare and special edition coins could bring you a pretty hefty return on investment someday. Be sure to explore our selection of rare coins to get your collection started!