The 10 Most Precious US Coins of All Times

There are two distinct types of coin investment. Those that are worth equivalent to the precious metal they are made from and there are plenty of gold and silver coins in circulation.

Then there are the collectable coins which have a rarity value and are sought-after by those of us who are not only interested in the history behind each coin and its rarity value. If you asked the majority of coin collectors what their ultimate prize coin would be, many of them would name the 1804 Silver Dollar.

This coin qualifies as the most precious US coin of all time and if you are fortunate enough to own one of only 19 copies that are known to exist, that one dollar is probably worth an inflation-busting $10 million.

Here is a look at the coins that can be classed as in the top ten of the most precious and sought-after coins you can lay your hands on, if you have the financial resources to do so and can find a seller willing to part with it.

1804-Class-III-Silver-Dollar_Obv1804 Silver Dollar

The star of the show and probably the most prized collectible coin anywhere, is the 1804 Silver Dollar Draped Bust.

If you find a specimen that is in good condition it could worth anything up to $10 million, but as only 19 copies are known to exist, the chances of coming across this very rare coin are very slim indeed.

There are numerous envious numismatists who admire its rarity, beauty and design features but know that they will never be able to add this coin to their collection.

doubleeagle1933 Double Eagle

Although the Double Eagle is usurped in value by the 1804 Silver Dollar, many collectors consider this coin to be the most fascinating and famous coin around.

It is a fascinating story that has resulted in this becoming one the rarest coins in the world. A healthy 445,500 specimens of the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle were minted back in 1933 but none of them were ever officially circulated and they were all subsequently melted down, with apparently just two of the coins spared.

It later turned out that about 20 of the coins were stolen before they were sent for melting, but the Secret Service tracked 19 of the coins down. What is now known is that one of the coins is owned by a private collector who paid $7.9 million for it back in 2002 and ten other copies of the coin are safely stored away in Fort Knox.

1692182_orig1913 Liberty Nickel

Third place in the list goes to the 1913 Liberty Nickel, which has an estimated value of $5.9 million.

The reason why a nickel coin could be so valuable is that the coin is a real rarity, because it was produced without the knowledge of the U.S Mint. There are plenty of theories and stories as to how this bizarre situation came about, but the reason it is worth so much is not just down to the mystery surrounding the coin but also due to the fact that there are only five examples of this coin in existence.

765011804 Eagle Gold – Capped Bust

Acquiring this coin for your collection will set you back in the region of $5.1 million, but again the chances of buying one are very slim indeed.

Less than ten of the coins were ever produced and only four are known to be in existence. As well as the rarity aspect there is also an interesting story behind the coin, as the coin was actually minted in 1834 and intended for diplomatic presentations,some thirty years after the date on the coin.

1854-O_Double_Eagle_r1861 Double Eagle – Coronet Paquet Reverse

The story behind this coin is that the U.S Mint ceased production of the coin at the last minute, due to some design-revisions. A few of the coins had already been minted by the time the instructions to stop came through, meaning that there are only two known to exist, with a value of about $4.5 million each.


1794 Silver Dollar – Flowing Hair

This coin is an iconic image and you can even buy a book which is dedicated to the story of this particular coin.

There are 125 documented examples of the 1794 Silver Dollar and its rarity combined with the fascination of the history associated with this elusive piece of metal, means that you are likely to have to find about $3.2 million to put one in your collection.

300-h01c_1794_NmlHd_o_Hydra1797 Half Cent – Liberty Cap

Back in 1795, President George Washington took positive action to address the copper shortage being experienced by the country, and he did this by instructing that the weight of certain coins should be reduced.

One of the rare coins that now exist as a result of this policy is the 1797 Half Cent, which fascinates numismatists everywhere and commands a value of about $3 million when one comes up for auction.

1873cc_dime_no_arrows_obv1873 CC Dime – Liberty Seated

If you love tales of the Wild West, this coin will definitely appeal. The 1873 Dime is considered to be the only unique issue produced by the Carson City Mint. It filled its coins using gold that was plundered from nearby mines and the value of one of these remaining examples if estimated to be about $2.7 million.

1855s1855 Three Dollar Gold Piece

There is only one known example of this coin and that changed hands back in 1982 for $687,500. Rumors persist that there is another example of the coin buried somewhere under a San Francisco building, but that is where it is likely to remain if the story is true.

This means that the only confirmed example of an 1855 Three Dollar Gold Piece is now said to be worth in the region of $2.7 million.

59814_Obv1885 “Trade” Silver Dollar

This trade dollar was designed by William Barber and there are only five proofs of this coin for 1885 in existence. The last auction of an authenticated 1885 Silver Dollar Trade coin was back in 2006 and it fetched $3.3 million.

The estimated current value of a genuine version of this coin is around $2.6 million, although a mint condition one would more likely fetch close to $3.5 million.

Investing in coins

Coins as an alternative investment is a growing in popularity but the conundrum is always trying to find the balance between investing and collecting, as the two don’t always meet in the middle.

A lot of investors start of with gold and silver bullion and progress into coins.

Rare coins are a mature and established market and if you are looking at investing in this area, you should be aware that rare coins are mainly defined by the fact that there a fewer coins available than the demand for them and also if they are at least pre 1930’s.

There are three main investment categories –

Rare certified U.S coins and in particular gold coins, are different to bullion. So while a current one-ounce gold American Eagle is not rare by any means, one that was minted back in the 1800’s might be a different story altogether.

Certified ancient coins are the next investment category. This is a growth area in coin collecting and this is mainly due to the fact that the Numismatic Guaranty NGC Grading System has created an opportunity that was not there before.

The other specific category is referred to as key date U.S coins. This is the term used to describe the rarest coins from a known series and this is the area where serious investors tend to be found.

It is always advisable to try and find a knowledgeable numismatist for guidance if you are looking at adding some coins to your alternative investment portfolio.

Elizabeth Goldman is the editor of She has written for, and many others.