One of the biggest hobbies that often comes with a huge payout is collecting rare coins. Rare coins are coins that are either no longer in circulation, were printed with a defect, or are from eras of long ago. While there are many different types of rare coins, there are some which are far more valuable than others.
Following is a list of the top ten rare coins you might be lucky enough to come across in the United States.
- 1 1. 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle
- 2 2. Copper Pennies From 1943
- 3 3. The Brasher Doubloon
- 4 4. Coins From 1870
- 5 5. 1776 Silver Continental Dollar
- 6 6. An Aluminum Penny From 1974
- 7 7. 1804 Draped Bust Dollar
- 8 8. Du Pont’s 1866 Silver Dollar
- 9 9. Confederate States Half-Dollar From 1961
- 10 10. Liberty Head Nickel Printed in 1913
- 11 What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Rare Coin?
1. 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle
Worth well over eighteen million dollars, the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle coin is one of the rarest coins in the world. This coin was initially worth twenty dollars when it was first printed. However, once it was discontinued, they were all slated to be destroyed.
Because Roosevelt decided to take the United States off the gold standard, collectors scrambled to salvage what they could of the over four hundred thousand coins already printed. Although most were successfully collected and destroyed by the government, a few are still floating around to this day.
2. Copper Pennies From 1943
The year 1943 was a difficult year for the United States. World War II was in full swing and efforts to support the cause extended into the printing of currency. In an effort to save copper for the war, pennies were being printed using zinc plated steel.
This gave these pennies a silver hue, much different from their characteristic copper color. Around forty copper pennies were accidently printed over time, making copper pennies from 1943 one of the rarest finds you can come across.
3. The Brasher Doubloon
The Brasher Doubloon was a privately minted coin produced by Ephraim Brasher in 1787. Although his request to mint copper coins was initially turned down by the state of New York, he didn’t let this setback faze him.
Brasher took it upon himself to create eight gold doubloons over the next several months. These doubloons were initially worth sixteen Spanish dollars when they were first created but are now worth between two and nine million dollars.
4. Coins From 1870
Most coin collectors get excited when they find a coin that was created in 1870. This year is full of rare finds and exceptional pieces that are truly one of a kind. This is the year that minting operations gained traction and odd denominations were an industry standard.
Coins from 1870 feature unique values like three cents and two cents. A three-dollar gold coin was even created during this time frame. Coins minted from Carson City tend to be more collectible than those minted in San Francisco or Philadelphia during this time frame.
5. 1776 Silver Continental Dollar
1776 was a turbulent, yet exciting, time for the United States. In an effort to fund the Revolutionary War, the government ordered the printing of paper currency. This effort to create a national currency continued after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
In addition to paper money, they also had several thousand continental dollar coins made out of various metals. Although about six thousand pewter coins were initially minted, many were ultimately destroyed or lost over time. To this day only four silver continental dollars are known to have been made and are worth over one million dollars per piece.
6. An Aluminum Penny From 1974
In the 1970s copper prices continued to rise steadily. At this point it almost cost more to mint a penny than what it was actually worth. The government started looking for alternatives to use that would be cheap and easy to work with.
In 1974, the mint in Philadelphia printed over one million aluminum pennies, although they never had a chance to reach circulation and were withdrawn and destroyed due to quality issues.
In the end, the government decided that zinc would be a better alternative than aluminum and whatever uncirculated aluminum pennies remain are now worth over two million dollars a piece.
7. 1804 Draped Bust Dollar
Andrew Jackson wanted to present foreign dignitaries with a unique gift when they visited on official business. Unfortunately, the type of coins he was interested in gifting had not been created for quite some time. There was a legitimate fear of counterfeit money and the mints decided to stop making them for a few years.
Andrew Jackson ordered the mints to create several coins for his upcoming guests and they did. These coins are some of the rarest coins in the United States because they are the only dollar coins that bear the date 1804 on them. Each coin is now worth a million dollars.
8. Du Pont’s 1866 Silver Dollar
When the Du Point family became the victims of a famous heist in 1967, many extremely rare and collectable coins became the subjects of an intense recovery effort. The 1866 silver dollar is thought to be the only one which was not printed featuring the “In God We Trust” motto along the bottom.
Though unconfirmed, rumor has it that this coin was printed as a special favor for a friend of executives who were then supplied with illegal narcotics as payment. This coin was finally recovered in Los Angeles over thirty years later and is now worth well over a million dollars.
9. Confederate States Half-Dollar From 1961
As the Civil War waged on the Confederate states needed quick cash to fund their war efforts. Unlike the North who had a plentiful supply of precious metals to produce coins, the New Orleans mint began printing paper money.
Only four coins were made during the Confederacies’ existence. They are so rare that most coin catalogs refuse to list a value for them. Unfortunately, this is one of the coins that is most often counterfeited, which means if you happen to come across one of them it’s most likely fake.
10. Liberty Head Nickel Printed in 1913
Perhaps one of the most interesting backstories to a rare coin belongs to the Liberty Head Nickel printed in 1913. A mint worker by the name of Samuel Brown managed to acquire five of these interesting looking nickels, each market with a Liberty Head instead of a buffalo and bearing the year 1913 underneath.
Over time these coins changed hands several times and with each new owner the rumors of why they were created in the first place just continued to grow. Because of their rarity and the intrigue surrounding their very existence, each coin is worth several million dollars a piece.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Rare Coin?
Coming across a rare coin often feels like you’ve won the lottery, especially if you just happened to stumble upon it. If you think you’ve come across a rare coin, there are several steps you need to take in order to preserve its condition and ensure its authenticity.
First, invest in a proper storage container or hard plastic storage bag that has been specially designed for storing rare coins. These bags effectively protect the condition of the coin, keeping it from becoming weathered or scratched by other materials.
The second thing you need to do is contact an expert in the field. A professional coin grader will help you establish its authenticity and help you gather more information about your coin. It might be a good idea to get a second opinion too, especially if your coin is particularly valuable.
Third, resist the urge to sell it as quickly as possible. Most rare coins will grow in value over time, especially if other specimens become lost or stolen. By holding onto your coin for as long as possible you can eventually pass it down to your children and keep it in the family.