To some, those round little metal things that reside in children's piggy banks, car consoles, pockets, tip jars, penny loafers and in between sofa cushions, are just coins. Nothing but tiny amounts of currency. But to those who possess a zeal for collecting coins, they are potential works of art - potentially valuable works of art, at that. There are stories about people going through the change in their pockets only to find an odd-looking coin that turned out to be worth a ton of cash to an auction house or private collector.
While that's a rare occurrence, it does happen because there are rare and valuable coins (and even coins that are considered "priceless") still currently in common circulation. This list includes rare coins that are at least 200 years old, coins that were produced by mint workers without proper permission as well as coins that someone might be able to find in their very own pocket. We are saying that there's a great chance of this happening but it never hurts to keep an eye out.
Whether you are a fellow coin enthusiast, a newbie to the coin collecting game or just like money, enjoy learning about 20 of the rarest coins that collectors have come across.
20 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar - $10,016,875
The coin that is being called "the highest valued coin in history" according to collectors and experts is the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, the very first silver dollar ever to be minted by the United States by the first United States Mint which opened in 1792. Several collectors call this coin a "national treasure" and to put things into perspective, collectors have been trying to get their hands on this rare coin since 1880. The last known Flowing Hair Silver Dollar was sold for $10,016,875 on January 24, 2013, by Stack’s Bowers Galleries. The coin that was sold in 2013 is said to have been in near perfect condition - a fantastic feat for a coin that is around 200 years old.
19 1804 Bust Dollar - Class I (Mickley-Hawn-Queller Specimen) - $3,737,500
The 1804 Silver Dollar is known as the Mercedes of the coin world by collectors and there is a good reason for this. The United States Mint did not produce any silver dollars until 1834 but the U.S. Mint did receive orders directly from the White House to create proof coin sets that were to be presented to the Sultan of Muscat, the King of Siam as well as the Emperors of China and Japan among other VIPs as special diplomatic gifts. A coin die had to be created just for these rare diplomatic gifts and since there is such a limited amount of Silver Bust Dollars in existence, the price reflects this at $3,737,500 on April 17, 2008, when it was sold by Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas.
18 Gold Canadian Maple Leaf - $4,020,000
Many of the most valuable and rarest coins in the world are as old as the hills but the Gold Canadian Maple Leaf was produced in 2007. The Royal Canadian Mint produced the world's first million dollar coin, a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. The coin is unusually thick and is made of 99.999% pure gold. The idea for the coin was originally conceived as a centerpiece to promote the Royal Canadian Mint's new line of 99.999% pure gold bullion coins. As of this writing, just five of these rare coins have been purchased by collectors and investors from around the world. The last coin to sell at a public auction sold for $4,020,000 in June 2010 at an auction at the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna, Austria.
17 1787 Brasher Doubloon - (With "EB" For Ephraim Brasher On Wing) - $4,582,500
For some backstory, Ephraim Brasher was a well-known goldsmith and silversmith in the New York City area in the late 1700s well before the United States Mint was in operational so the colonies had to mint their own coins and many turned to Brasher for his services. Any of Brasher's coins would be considered quite valuable in this day and age but the most special and rare of all is one that has been dubbed the "New York Style Brasher doubloon" which was created in 1787. The head of the coin has Brasher's initials "EB" marked on one of the bird's wings. The last known coin of this kind sold for $4,582,500 on January 9, 2,014 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.
16 1913 Liberty Head Nickel - $3,737,500
If ever there was a rebel coin, the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel is it. Five of these coins were made without permission by the United States Mint staff. Today, two are in different museums while three are in collections of private coin collectors. This little shiny rebel also has some celebrity status. In the 1970's, one of these coins was used for close-up shots on the TV series Hawaii Five-O for action shots where the date could not be discerned. On January 7, 2010, one of the five Liberty Head Nickels sold at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas for $3,737,500.
15 1804 Silver Dollar - Class I (The Watters-Childs Specimen) - $10,575,000
This coin is known as the "King of U.S. Coins" having been graded Proof-68 by Professional Coin Grading Service. After this coin sold to D. Brent Pogue for $4,140,000 on August 30, 1999, by the auction house, Bowers & Merena, it became the world's most valuable coin at the time. Some of the previous owners of this coin included the Sultan of Muscat in 1835, C.A. Watters, Henry Chapman, Virgil Brand, Charles and Ruth Green, Charles Frederick Childs (for more than 50 years) and the Pogue Family. In May of 2016, Mr. Pogue put the coin up for sale at Sotheby's auction house and a bid was offered over the phone for $10,575,000, the most ever offered for a coin but it failed to reach the consignor’s reserve price.
14 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Coin - $7590,000
Imagine holding $20 in just one little coin. Back in 1933, 445,500 gold coins for a currency worth of $20 were minted with an image of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle but none of the coins were ever put into circulation because the mint got world that the idea for the $20 coin was nixed and all coins were ordered to be destroyed by being melted down. Before all coins could be destroyed, however, 22 were said to be stolen. 9 of those 22 were eventually recovered and destroyed after all but that leaves 13 still remaining in the world which makes this never-circulated coin extremely rare and special and worth more than $7 million if found.
13 1942-1945 Jefferson Wartime Silver Nickels - only $1
These are no ordinary nickels so it stands to reason that they are worth more five than cents. Jefferson Wartime Silver Nickels were only produced for three years, from 1942-1945 during World War II. They were minted with a special blend of copper, silver, and manganese, in efforts to reserve supplies that had previously been used to produce nickels to save money for the war effort hence the name of this special nickel. You can tell a Jefferson Wartime Silver Nickel apart from regular nickels by the larger than normal mintmark over the dome of the Monticello on the reverse side of the coin. Jefferson Wartime Silver Nickels will also have a different feel than regular nickels due to their unique metal make-up. They may not be worth a truckload of cash (currently their worth is around $1) but that is still a pretty nice payday for a nickel and these coins are becoming increasingly rare as time goes on.
12 1870-S Silver Dollar - $1,092,500
The rarest of all silver dollars in existence is the 1870-S Silver Dollar which is made up of 90% silver and 10% copper. Less than a dozen of these coins are known to exist. It wasn't until 44 years after the 1870-S Silver Dollar was minted that it was actually publicly seen when coin collector H.O. Granberg displayed it at the 1914 American Numismatic Society Exhibition. On May 14, 2003, this coin sold for $1,092,500 5-14-2003 at Stack's auction house. Experts say that an 1870-S Silver Dollar in near-perfect condition could fetch a price tag of around seven figures.
11 1946-1964 Roosevelt Silver Dimes - $2
Roosevelt Silver Dimes don't have any special flaws or differences that regular dimes have... except for one very important aspect. Roosevelt Silver Dimes were only produced for 18 years from 1946 to 1964 and what makes these little coins special, as you might be able to tell from the name, is that they were made primarily of silver. Now they are made up of a combination of copper and nickel, the silver dimes are worth $1 to $2, depending on the condition of the coin. Coins in near-mint condition are worth more, of course, and coins in degraded conditions are worth slightly less but all Roosevelt Silver Dimes are worth more than ten cents.
10 1943 Copper Penny- $60,000 to $200,000
There are many urban legends about the 1943 copper "wheat penny." Some people consider it to be one of the rarest coins in the world. Only 40 coins were made before it was found out that the pennies were made mistakenly with expensive copper rather than the more economical steel. Counterfeit wheat pennies have been made throughout the years and have been attempted to be put into circulation but experts have confirmed there are only 12 left in private collections. If someone comes across copper wheat pennies, they should have them authenticated before proceeding to see if the copper wheat penny in question is really worth $60,000 to $200,000.
9 1804 Bust Dollar - Class I (Dexter-Pogue Specimen) - $3,865,750
This very special coin holds a spot in one of the Top 10 lists of "The World's Rarest and Most Valuable Coins." This particular coin has a small D punched in a cloud on the reverse of the coin which means that it was part of the James V. Dexter collection. James V. Dexter is a wealthy numismatist who owned it for 14 years at the end of the 19th century. The last time this coin sold was March 31, 2017, and it sold for $3,865,750 at Stack's Bowers Galleries and Sotheby's auction house. Minted back in 1804, this bust dollar features a woman with long flowing hair and a ring of stars around her.
8 1933 Double Eagle - $7,590,020
Around 500,000 $20 gold pieces were minted in 1933. At that time, President Roosevelt ordered that all gold coins from the general public be recalled. He also ordered that the United States Mint melt all the $20 gold pieces that were still in its possession. Somehow, a handful of 1933 dated $20 gold pieces escaped from the Mint's vaults even though they were never officially issued and allowed into circulation. This is the only coin on this list that is actually forbidden to own and will be seized by the United States government. The last that we know of, the 1933 Double Eagle coin sold for $7,590,020 on July 30, 2002, at Sotheby's and Stack's auction house.
7 2005-D Jefferson Bison Nickel - $50 to $2,500
Sometimes a simple error due to machinery or an error due to a mistake on the operator's part which can be a complete nightmare for the Mint leads to nothing short of pure delight for coin collectors. This rare nickel, the 2005-D Jefferson Bison Nickel, has an unusual mark on it. There is a faint line running through the middle of the bison. This erroneous nickel can be worth anywhere from $50 to $2,500, depending on the condition of the coin in question. For those interested in making a profit off of their loose change, it might be worthwhile to take a long, hard look for that faint line on any bison nickels they might come across.
6 1984/1997 "Double-Ear" Lincoln Pennies - $25 to $250
These pennies are distinguishable from other pennies because of a manufacturing error. These rare coins are worth between $25 and $250. "Double ear" might sound like a funny term even though most people are technically double eared by having an ear on each side of their heads but the pennies that were manufactured in 1984 and 1997 were produced with an error that gave Lincoln’s profile two earlobes on one ear. These coins really should be called the "Double earlobe Lincoln penny" but that just doesn't have the same ring. We are not quite sure what happened to cause this unique flub in 1984 and we are even more perplexed at how the very same mistake happened again in 1997!
5 1343 Edward III Florin - $6.800,000
The Edward Florin III coin is one of the rarest and most valuable coins out there. Finding one would, without a doubt, be the crown jewel of any coin collector's collection. Considering its age, this coin is very distinguishable from other coins as it is a bit misshapen and not a perfect circle among other traits. This coin is over 670 years old and there are only three of its kind known to have bravely and successfully made it through so many centuries so far. On top of all that, this coin is pure gold so that makes it's current estimated worth as $6.8 million justifiable. Imagine finding this rare treasure under a sofa cushion!
4 1849 Double Eagle - undetermined
The California Gold Rush started in 1849 and during that time, two brand new denominations in coin form were created one of them being the 1849 Double Eagle which was worth $20 and engraved by James B. Longacre, creator of the Indian Head Cent design which is another valuable coin. The Double Eagle features just one eagle on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other side. The current value isn't determined as of now but you can be sure that when and if one hits the market, it will be worth somewhere in the neighborhoods of seven figures. There are only two of these coins known to exist today and one is at the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. The whereabouts of the other is a mystery.
3 2011 Scotland Edinburgh City - $935,00
It wasn't so long ago that the Scotland Edinburg City coin was issued. In 2011, Stuart Devlin, personal goldsmith, and jeweler to the Queen of England, designed this coin which features the official badge of Edinburg. In 2010, the "City Series" coins were announced to be launched soon, which included three coins that pay tribute to the capital cities of the United Kingdom. The three coins were released in "rounds" with the Scotland Edinburg City coin being the first round released in 2011. Current worth of these not-so-old but very rare and valuable coins is estimated at $935,000.
2 1907 Ultra High Relief - Double Eagle Saint-Gaudens - $3,000,000
This beautiful coin was released back in 1907 and had the face value of $20. Hand created by the well-known sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gardens, only 2 dozen coins were ever produced because it was soon realized that manufacturing too many of these gold coins would be far too difficult a process all around. These coins are currently known as "Ultra High Relief" and the design continued to be worked on and modified until 1933. As it stands now, there are three known 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Saint-Gardens coins in existence. The prestigious Smithsonian Museum possesses two of these rare coins and one was sold in an auction for $3 million.
1 1814 Half Eagle - $700,000
The 1814 Half Eagle gold coin is known as one of the rarest coins to have ever existed in the history of the world as we know it. That may sound dramatic but that is just how rare and valuable this coin really is. It was designed by John Reich and features a "Liberty head" wearing a loose cap with an eagle on the other side. It was released by the U.S. Mint in 1814 in a 45 denomination - a rarity for a coin. Made entirely of gold, there were only 17,796 coins made at the time and today, there are only three coins known to exist. Two are housed in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the third sold in 1982 for $700,000 - a bargain by today's standards! Since there are not any other coins believe to be around today, if one does manage to pop up, it's worth could be a staggering amount.