While there are many rare coins throughout the world and history, and many would debate where they would rank in rarity. Most believe in rarity based on number minted and how many are known to exist. Monetary value also has a big part to play. With that said, here is our list of the top 5 rarest US coins.
No. 5 – 1861 Liberty Head Gold Coin
This gold coin coming in at number five on our list was actually minted on accident. Late revisions for the coin were issued to the US mint but they didn’t receive word of them until after some of the coins had already been produced and put into circulation. Only two are know and in 2010 went for a cool 5.6 million dollars.
No. 4 – 1804 Ten Dollar Gold Piece
Less than 10 of these rare coins were ever produced, and only three are known to still currently exist today. Additionally, these coins were produced three decades after their minted year. The most recent sighting of this coin was seen in 2005 where it was sold 8.5 million dollars. These like their more rare silver dollar counterparts were mainly produced for diplomatic purposes.
No. 3 – 1913 Liberty Nickel
Another US Mint mistake is the 1913 Liberty nickel. Produced in 1913, the liberty head nickels were produced without the US Mint knowing. Since the buffalo nickel was supposed to be produced that year, no liberty head nickels were to be minted but somehow a handful were made. Samuel Brown, an employee of the US Mint is credited for secretly minting these coins and then sneaking them out of the office. Only five are known to exist, two are exhibits in museums and the other three are part of private collections. The last time one of these nickels was at public auction was in 2010 where it fetched 3.7 million dollars.
No. 2 – 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle
One of the rarest coins known, the Saint-Gaudens Double eagle was minted in 1933, but was never released into circulation due to a change in currency laws during the Great Depression. The entire run was supposedly melted down into gold bullion. However, a US Mint cashier is said to have given out some of the coins in exchange for earlier double-eagles. Outside of the two that are in the national currency collection at the Smithsonian there are two other known coins. The only known auction of the coin was handled by Sotheby’s where it fetched 7.5 million dollars.
No.1 – 1804 Silver Dollar
Coming in at the top of the list is the 1804 Silver Dollar also known as the Bowed Liberty Dollar. This coin is the holy grail of numismatic collectors. Currently, there are only 15 known genuine 1804 silver dollars. These rare coins were actually produced 30 years after their stamp date and used mainly for diplomatic purposes. One example is the famous King of Siam coin which can be seen in the movie, “The King and I” and in the novel, Anna and the King of Siam. This silver dollar is also one of the few coins to possess three separate classes of quality. Class I is considered the original genuine coin. Class II and III were produced illegally by an employee of the Philadelphia branch of the US Mint. All of the Class II were seized and destroyed save one which resides in the Smithsonian. Class III were also produced illegally and while the US Mint tried seizing all of these copies as well some had already been distributed to collectors.
That’s our list of the Top 5 rarest US coins, check out our collection of rare coins on our website. Think that we missed one or labeled one too high? Comment below or on our Facebook page.
Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.