Before you sort your change or drop those coins in the vending machine, get familiar with the most valuable coins in the world. From gold doubloons to silver dollars, these pieces are historically important, beautiful, and worth way more than you might imagine.
Even though you might not have some of these multi-million-dollar beauties in your pocket change, they have characteristics that make them special and valuable. Knowing these can help you spot treasures in your everyday life. Plus, it's just fascinating to learn about these super valuable coins.
6 of the World's Most Valuable Coins
From dollar coins that are worth millions to 20th century gold coins with only a few known examples, the world's most valuable coins are special for a reason. These are the top six, according to auction records.
|1933 Gold Double Eagle||$18.87 million|
|1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar||$12 million|
|1787 Brasher Doubloon||$9.36 million|
|1822 Half Eagle||$8.4 million|
|1804 Draped Bust Dollar Proof||$7.68 million|
|1861 Paquet Reverse Double Eagle||$7.2 million|
1. 1933 Gold Double Eagle - $18.87 Million
You might expect the most valuable coin in the world to be super old, but it's actually from the 20th century. The 1933 gold Double Eagle has a fascinating history. Prompted by a request from Teddy Roosevelt and designed by famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the Double Eagle was minted in small numbers between 1907 and 1933.
In 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression and attempting to end a banking crisis, then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive ordered a stop to the production of gold coins and even required citizens to exchange the gold coins in their possession at the time. Nearly half a million of the 1933 Double Eagles had already been struck at the time of the order, but only 10 left the US Mint (a sneaky move by a Mint employee). The rest never entered circulation, making this one of the rarest coins in the world.
One uncirculated 1933 Double Eagle sold at Sotheby's for $18.87 million in 2021. It is the only privately owned example of this super rare and valuable coin.
2. 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar - $12 Million
The second most valuable coin in the world is what many collectors believe to be the first silver dollar ever minted by the United States. Although 140 of these coins may exist, they are even rarer in near mint condition (they are over two centuries old, after all). On one side, Lady Liberty is surrounded by stars, and on the other, you'll see an eagle and wheat.
This is the most valuable silver dollar in existence, and it's one of the most coveted coins. It sold for $12 million in 2022. Other examples of this first dollar coin sell for millions as well.
3. 1787 New York-Style Brasher Doubloon - $9.36 Million
This privately minted American doubloon is the most valuable coin in the world. At the time it was minted in 1787 by Ephraim Brasher, the United States was a new country that mostly used Spanish coins as currency. Brasher designed one side of the coin to represent the United States (that's not legal now, but it wasn't a problem back then), making this one of the first coins to represent the new nation.
The coin is 22k gold and is one of the rarest and most coveted examples in the history of coin collecting. There are only seven known to exist, and one of those is lost. This rare coin has shattered records several times, most notably in 2021 when a Brasher Doubloon sold for $9.36 million at auction. It was in pristine condition, the most perfect example known.
4. 1822 Capped Head Left Half Eagle - $8.4 Million
No one knows why the 1822 Half Eagle is such a rare coin. Nearly 18,000 Half Eagles were struck during the 1820s, but very, very few survive from the year 1822. Experts estimate that fewer than one percent of Half Eagles from the 1820s still exist, with 1822 being the rarest by far. In fact, only three are known to survive from that year, and only one of those is privately owned.
The 1822 Double Eagle was originally worth five dollars, but in 2021, one sold for $8.4 million. Because of the coin's rarity, it was worth this much, despite being in less-than-perfect condition.
5. 1804 Draped Bust Dollar Proof - $7.68 Million
The fifth most valuable coin is a silver dollar from 1804. The front of the coin features Lady Liberty with a draped bust, and the reverse shows an eagle. This is considered the "King of American Coins" by collectors, and it's nearly impossible to find in pristine condition. What's actually strange about this coin is that even though it has the date of 1804, some proof coins were actually minted in 1834 as a gift for diplomats.
In 2021, a proof copy of the 1804 dollar sold for $7.84 million. As a proof, it did not enter circulation, so it was in exceptional shape. It set a record as the second most valuable silver dollar ever sold.
6. 1861 Paquet Reverse Double Eagle - $7.2 Million
The Double Eagle was a $20 coin in use during the 19th century, and engraver Anthony C. Paquet designed a new reverse for the coin that would be in production in 1861. However, in the midst of the United States Civil War, the country had bigger things to worry about than a new reverse design for the Double Eagle coin. Mint director James Ross Snowden ordered that the new reverse design not be minted, but the news did not reach the San Francisco Mint before a few coins had been struck.
Only two examples of the 1861 Paquet Reverse Double Eagle are known to exist, and the coin is considered as rare as the most valuable coin in the world, the 1933 Double Eagle. An 1861 Paquet Reverse Double Eagle sold at auction for $7.2 million in 2021.
While you might not have one of these super rare coins in your pocket, there are definitely commonly circulated coins out there that can be worth a lot. One of the world's most valuable coin in modern regular circulation is the 1983-P Washington Quarter, according to Coin Trackers. It can be worth about $55.
What the Most Valuable Coins in the World Have in Common
What do the world's most valuable coins have in common? There are a few things, actually, and you can use these commonalities to help you spot coins that might be worth something.
They're US Coins
There are plenty of super valuable coins from all over the world, but these top six are all from the United States. Why? Hard to say, but these US coins hold the auction records for the most valuable world coins (but if you're interested in British coins, check out the most valuable coins from Great Britain). Just because a coin is minted in the US doesn't mean it's going to be worth a fortune (a penny doesn't even buy you a gum ball anymore, right?). But if you have a US coin with other special characteristics, give it a little more attention.
They Are Old or Gold
All six of the most valuable coins are either very old or made of gold. The rhyme is cute, but there's some reason behind it too. Gold is inherently valuable; it's always worth a lot. Old coins tend to be rarer than modern coins. If you have a super old coin or a gold coin, it's definitely worth getting it appraised.
They Are Rare
We've all heard of supply and demand, and this economic principle is very true in coin collecting. If there aren't very many examples of a coin, it's going to be worth more to collectors. Even if collectors want it a lot, there won't be any more of it made. This means the value goes up. If you have a coin that might be rare, give it a second look.
Worth More Than Face Value
Even if you never see one of the most valuable coins in the world, you might just come across coins that can be worth a lot more than their face value. Get to know what makes a coin rare and something that will excite collectors.