Top 10: U.S Coins
10) 1804 Class III Silver Dollar - $2,300,000
The 1804 Class III Silver Dollars were struck illegally by the U.S Mint employee Theodore Eckfeldt sometime between 1858 and 1860, in a plot to sell versions of the highly rare 1804 Class I Silver Dollar to coin dealers.
The die used to make the coins was seized by Mint Director James Ross Snowden in 1860, but several examples had already made it out of the mint and into the hands of collectors.
Of the seven examples known to exist today, most are owned by national institutions. The last to appear at auction was the ‘Adams - Carter Specimen’, which was sold by heritage in April 2009 for a price of $2.3 million.
9) The 1787 Brasher Doubloon EB Punch on Wing - $2,415,000
The Brasher Doubloon is a legendary American coin made famous by its appearance in Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novel ‘The High Window’. It was privately minted in the late 1780s by the goldsmith Ephraim Brasher, who struck a number of copper and gold coins during the period and always included his ‘EB’ stamp.
He applied for a licence to mint coins but was denied by the State of New York, and many believe the gold doubloons were created from copper coin dies as bribes for state officials in an attempt to win the licence.
Three versions of the doubloon were sold during a Heritage auction in January 2005. An example with Brasher’s ‘EB’ mark on the wing sold for a price of $2,415,000.
8) 1880 Coiled Hair Stella
Described as a "great white whale" for coin collectors, the $4 Stella Coiled Hair cameo coin is a pattern coin, rather than legal tender. The design was rejected by Congress, but around 400 were produced and found their way into the hands of collectors.
The finest-known example, graded as Proof 67 Cameo, sold at Bonhams in September 2013 for a price of $2,574,000.
7) 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle - $2,990,000
The 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle is a pattern-issue $20 coin struck to test the design created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After coins proved difficult to strike the relief was lowered, but around 20 high-relief pieces remained and have become some of the most sought after coins in U.S numismatics.
The highest-ever rated example of this coin was sold in 2005 during a Heritage sale of the Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage, for a record price of $2.99 million.
The same coin sold again at Stack's Bowers Galleries in 2012 for $2.78 million
6) 1913 Liberty Head nickel - $3,737,500
The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is a highly rare U.S coin that technically doesn’t exist. The Liberty head design was replaced by the Indian head design, and Mint records show no Liberty head coins struck in 1913.
However, five are known to exist and it’s believed they were struck illegally by a Mint employee. The coin is one of the most famous in all of American numismatics, and also one of the most valuable.
At a Heritage auction in January 2010, the ‘Olsen’ specimen (which had once appeared on an episode of Hawaii Five-O) sold for a record price of $3,737,500.
The Walton specimen, an example involved in a tragic car crash, kept in a closet and thought to be a fake for forty years, sold a Heritage auction in April 2013 for $3,172,500.
5) 1804 Class I Silver Dollar - $3,737,500
Only eight of these coins are known to exist, minted as gifts for Asian rulers to trade negotiations in 1834. Standard 1804 dollars had been produced using old dies dated ‘1803’, and it wasn’t until 30 years later that silver dollars actually dated ‘1804’ were produced.
Described by many as the “King of American Coins”, a specimen known as the ‘Mickley-Reed Hawn’ specimen (due to its former owners) was sold by Heritage in 2008 as part of the famed Queller family collection of silver dollars for a price of $3,725,000. It was later sold again by Heritage in August 2013 for a price of $3,877,500.
4) 1804 Class I Silver Dollar - $4,140,000
Another of these legendary coins was gifted to Rama III, King of Siam was passed to his successor King Rama IV, who (rumour has it) then gave it as a gift to the English educator Anna Leonowens in a story later retold as ‘The King and I’.
The coin was then sold by descendents of Leonowens in the 1950s, and displayed in the ‘King of Siam’ collection at the Smithsonian until 2001 when it was purchased by an anonymous collector for $4.14 million.
3) 1787 Brasher Doubloon EB on Breast - $7.395 million
The second Brasher doubloon to appear on the list was also sold at the Heritage auction in January 2005 which saw the ‘EB on wing’ version sold for $2.41 million.
This was beaten by a version with the ‘EB’ mark situated on the Eagle’s breast, which sold for a record price of $2,990,000. However, the same unique coin was sold again in a private sale in December 2011 to a Wall Street Investment firm for a confirmed price of $7.395 million.
2) 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle - $7,590,020
The 1933 double eagle is the most expensive coin ever sold at auction, and one of the most controversial of all U.S coins. 445,500 specimens were minted in 1933, but none were circulated due to a Presidential Act preventing the use of gold in legal tender. However, eleven examples are believed to have escaped being melted down, nine of those allegedly stolen directly from the Mint.
Only one example, formerly owned by Egyptian King Farouk, was declared legal to own by the U.S Government after a long-standing legal dispute. The rest have been destroyed or remain in the hands of national institutions. The last example sold at Sotheby’s in 2002 for a record price of $7.59 million.
1) Flowing Hair dollar - $10,000,000
The Flowing Hair dollar was the very first dollar coin issued by the U.S government, minted from 1794 to 1795. It was replaced in October 1795 by the Draped Bust dollar, and remains one of the Holy Grails of American numismatics. In May 2010, the Flowing Hair dollar became the most valuable coin ever sold when a 1794 specimen was sold in a private sale to collector Martin Logies for a World record price of $7.85 million.
In January 2013, the coin was placed up for auction at Stack's Bowers Galleries by Logies, owner of the renowned Cardinal Collection. It was sold for a world record auction price of $10 million to the New Jersey-based rare coin company Legend Numismatics.
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