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Most Expensive Coins Ever Sold to Date at Auctions

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EDITOR NOTE: On June 8, 2021, a coin set a new record sale for the highest price to date at auctions. This was the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. Shoe designer and entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman bought the incredibly rare coin for $7,377,000 in 2002. The gold piece is one of only 13 of its kind and the only one that is not in the Smithsonian or Fort Knox. Weitzman sold it this summer at Sotheby’s in New York to an anonymous buyer for a staggering $18,872,250. This eclipses the previous record sale of the 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar, which sold in 2013 for $10,016,875. 

The following six U.S. coins are those that have sold for the highest amounts to date at auctions. For of them traded hands most recently in sales that occurred in 2020 or 2021.

1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle – PCGS MS65 CAC

At a special auction held on June 8, 2021, by Sotheby’s in New York City, the most famous (or infamous American coin)–the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle $20 gold coin–was sold by designer shoe maven Stuart Weitzman, who purchased the coin in 2002 for $7,377,000, sold to an anonymous buyer for an astounding $18,872,250 – a new world record for the highest amount ever paid for any coin and more than double the previous record! The price is a clear indication of the strength of the U.S. coin market today. This coin was graded MS65 by PCGS but was not slabbed at the owner’s request.

This coin is the only example of this issue that is legal to own of the estimated 13 or so that are known to still exist of the original mintage of 445,500 with two in the Smithsonian and 10 held in Fort Knox that were confiscated from the heirs of Israel Switt, the Philadelphia jeweler who is believed to have conspired with a United States Mint employee to get the coins out of the Mint in 1933.

1794 Flowing Hair Dollar – PCGS SP66

1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. B-1, BB-1, the only known dies. Rarity-4. BB Die State I. Silver Plug. Specimen-66 (PCGS). CAC.

The previous record-holder for the most valuable coin is this coin, which is the finest known example of the first silver dollar struck by the U.S. Mint. It sold in 2013 for $10,016,875 when it was purchased by Bruce Morelan, who had it auctioned last October when it failed to reach its reserve price. There are estimated to be 130 examples of this coin still in existence, which were made to give as gifts to VIPs. The original mintage was 1,758 coins but many were melted due to their poor quality.

1787 Brasher Doubloon – NGC MS65

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Five years before the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia opened its doors in 1792, a neighbor of George Washington struck seven examples of this coin, the first gold coins made on our shores. Of those all but one had an “EB” punch mark on the eagle’s wing, while this example – which is also the finest in quality of the seven examples — has it on the breast. It sold in 2011 for $7.4 million and then sold in January 2021 for $9,360,000. It was purchased in 1979 for $725,000.

1804 Eagle $10 Gold Coin – NGC PR65 Deep Cameo

PCGS-Graded 1804 Draped Bust Eagle Takes $5.28 Million at Heritage Auction

In 1804 the U.S. Mint stopped producing $10 gold eagles, which was the highest denomination struck at the time. When President Andrew Jackson wanted to give special sets with one example of each U.S. coin denomination in circulation at the time as gifts during diplomatic missions in 1834-1835, the Mint had to combine the dies from the 1804 gold eagle with the minting technology that existed in the 1830s. It is believed that six of these coins were struck – of which three are known to still exist. Of those one is on loan to the American Numismatic Association (ANA) for its museum while the other two are in private hands. An example that had been owned by famous collector “Colonel” E.H.R. Green and former Treasury Secretary William Woodin sold for $5 million in a private sale in 2007. The other coin, which is an NGC PR65 DC, was sold by collector Bob R. Simpson in 2020 for an undisclosed amount.

1804 Silver Dollar – PCGS PR68 

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This is arguably the most famous American coin and one that, like the 1933 double eagle, has been the subject of many books and even more speculation.

No 1804 dollars were struck for circulation. President Thomas Jefferson put an end to dollar coin circulation due to the fact that most of the country’s large-tenor coins were being exported to pay for goods and little was coming back to replenish America’s supply.

Truth be told, 1804 dollars, like the 1804 eagle mentioned above, weren’t produced until 1834 and were issued only as part of the State Department’s diplomatic mission to Asia. Only a few were made and their existence was unknown to collectors until the mid-1850s.

Very few collectors have ever owned one; the Smithsonian Institution has three! Collector D. Brent Pogue once owned two specimens. The Dexter dollar, which is considered the second-finest known and has a tiny “D” etched in the clouds on the reverse, and the piece shown above, which was once owned by the Sultan of Muscat.

In August of this year, Stack’s Bowers sold this amazing numismatic treasure for $7,680,000.

1822 Half Eagle $5 Gold Coin – PCGS AU50

Date at Auctions

The second-most-valuable gold coin ever sold at auction is one of just three remaining specimens of this ultra-rare gold half eagle from 1822 whose original mintage was several hundred. The other two examples are part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection, the National Numismatic Collection making this one that sold on March 25 for $8.4 million including buyer’s fee the only privately owned example.

It was previously owned by Virgil Brand, who bought it in 1899. Louis Eliasberg then purchased it in 1945, and finally, D. Brent Pogue acquired it in 1982. Unlike most of the most expensive coins, it is not a top-quality Mint State coin but rather an Almost Uncirculated piece that acquired some wear from use.

Originally posted on Coinweek

All articles are provided as a third party analysis and do not necessarily reflect the explicit views of GSI Exchange and should not be construed as financial advice.

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