Regardless of what number they contain down at the bottom, to the right collector, individual coins can be worth millions of dollars. The catch is that people who collect and obsess over coins and other types of currency, or numismatists as they prefer to be called, are extremely particular about the quality and appearance of the tiny pieces of money they hold so dear. An entire system of grading exists to determine the quality of an individual coin, ranging from 1 all the way to 70, and the difference in a single point can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
It should go without saying that coins worth six or seven figures are exceedingly rare, and just how hard it is to find them can play a huge role in the price tag they receive. It also takes quite some time before a coin becomes valuable, so unfortunately, the odds of a person unknowingly having a valuable piece in their piggy banks are virtually nonexistent.
Generally speaking, the only way to attain such a pricey piece of metal is through auctions, and with every hungry collector constantly checking the circuit for the prettiest and rarest coins around means simply being in attendance at the right time is in no way a guarantee to walk out of there with the big prize. To even get a chance, one would have to do a whole lot of research, so to get a start, keep reading to learn about 30 ridiculously expensive coins worth way more than their face value.
30 The 2007 “Godless” Presidential Dollar
Okay, so compared to the other coins on this list, a simple dollar that’s actually worth around 50 bucks isn’t particularly impressive. However, it deserves distinction for the fact it’s significantly more recent than the others, not to mention the fact it has a pretty interesting origin story. Though minted in 2007, they’re all officially undated, and as the name would imply, the “In God We Trust” part featured on all U.S. currency was mysteriously left off. Because they’re so new, hundreds of thousands of them exist, but give it a couple centuries and these unique pieces of history could skyrocket in value.
29 The 1861 Confederate Coins Are Historic and Controversial
Generally speaking, the short-lived Confederate States of America are seen as a harsh reminder of the country’s dark past with the Civil War, but that doesn’t mean memorabilia from the rebellion isn’t extremely historically significant, and to the right collector, highly valuable. When the South seceded from the north, the new pseudo-nation needed it’s own currency to make things official, hence the 1861 Confederate half dollar.
The war was over before they became commonplace, and in fact only a very small number were ever made, leading to price tags ranging from $630,000 $880,000.
Talk about being a valuable piece of history.
28 The 1943 Copper Head Is One Pretty Penny
Most people these days are probably aware that pennies are a rather tenuous form of currency. It’s cost more to produce them than they’re worth for years, but there are still some exceptions to the rule. In 1943, there was a different issue with pennies, in that the U.S. government needed all the copper they could find to manufacture items related to World War II. As such, most pennies at the time were made with steel, but somehow 40 of them fell through the cracks and got made out of copper, anyway.
Nowadays, depending on the condition, those rare copper 1943 pennies can be worth $60,000 to $200,000.
Who thought copper could be worth so much?
27 The 1795 $5 Coin Was the First American Currency Made Out of Gold
Because gold is more expensive than any money people carry around in their pockets, the U.S. Mint eventually realized it shouldn’t continue making coins out of the precious metal. That wasn’t always the case, though, and in fact, gold was the basis of American money for roughly 150 years. The trend began in 1795 with this $5 piece, which is much less rare than many others on the list, yet still highly valuable due to the historical background it has.
In good-enough condition, the right collector could pay $350,000 $645,000 for one of them.
Wouldn't it be nice if coins were still made of gold?
26 The 1933 $10 Coin Ended the Gold Standard
It probably goes without saying that even a very small chunk of gold is worth much more today than anything people keep in their wallets. This was especially true during the Great Depression, which is why in 1933, President FDR officially made it impossible for the U.S. Mint to continue creating gold coins, asking all citizens to turn over their own shimmering belongings for proper compensation. The last such piece pressed was this $10 coin, which almost immediately left circulation, most of them getting melted back into metal.
A few survived, though, and they’re now worth up to $1 million if they're in good condition.
Wouldn't it be nice to get our hands on one of those?
25 The 1880 $4 Coin Only Lasted 2 Years
It’s hard enough for businesses to keep steady change for all types of currency that are now in existence, and it would be even more difficult if things like $4 coins were still around, further confusing the process. Understandably, things like this Coiled Hair Stella piece created in 1880 don’t exist anymore for this reason, and the fact it was made with 6 grams of actual gold further explain how they fell out of vogue. Of course, the few that survived have great value to collectors, possibly fetching as much as $1.5 million.
24 The 1652 New England Shilling Was an Early Sign of American Independence
In the year 1652, the United States didn’t even exist yet, meaning any so-called American money from that time frame couldn’t technically exist. However, settlers were already colonizing the area, and some of them wished to separate themselves from England with their own currency. Only a few short decades after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, this very simple shilling piece was minted, simply containing the letters N.E. for “New England” and XII to signify it was worth 12 pence. Well, back then, anyway. Now, the few remaining New England shillings can be worth $250,000 to $500,000.
23 The 1994 2,000 Chinese Yuan is a True Unicorn
Believe it or not, while history and historical provenance will always be key to coin collectors, even some more modern designs are started to make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Part of the reason this 1994 Chinese 2,000 yuan coin is so expensive is that it’s made of .999 fine gold, and not only that, but the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation graded it an impressive 69 out of 70, making it nearly perfect to the even the highly-trained eye.
Only 18 of them exist overall, featuring a beautiful design of a unicorn, and experts say they’re worth $600 to $800,000.
22 The Edward III Florin Is the Most Expensive British Coin
Long before America started putting Presidents on money, England was doing the same thing with their kings. During the 1300s, this meant most British coinage was commissioned in the name of King Edward III, including this ornate florin known as the “double leopard,” which was technically worth six shillings. Only three of them are still known to exist today, with the most valuable of all surprisingly found in 2006 by someone fiddling with a metal detector in an undisclosed location. Wherever it was, they ultimately made £460,000, or $605,000, for the discovery.
21 1794 Liberty Cap Cent Is Worth Way More With Errors
Everyone knows the phrase “mistakes are made,” and it has applied by the U.S. Mint from the very beginning. The plus side is that to a coin collector, a technical anomaly or imperfection can gradually cause the value of a given piece to shoot through the roof, as seen with the 1794 liberty cap cent, one of the very first pieces of currency in America. For whatever reason, the government decided to tweak the design from the coin’s first year to the next, but apparently, not everyone got the memo, leaving a few 1794 pennies with the leftover design from 1793. To the right collector, this error can be worth around $900,000.
20 The 1793 Chain Cent Was America’s First Currency
Between the U.S. Mint making a few test runs and actually creating the country’s original dollar, both of which this list will cover as it continues, the country mass produced it’s first original currency with the 1793 chain cent. In addition to a bust of George Washington with long, flowing hair, the coin gets it’s name from the design on its backside, with the words “One Cent” encased in a chain link. With how important this piece was to American history, it makes perfect sense that it would sell for just under $1 million.
19 The 1870 U.S. Silver Dollar Was Made as a piece of Decoration
Part of the reason it’s so hard for people to find any extremely rare coins hidden amongst their own spare change is that the truly valuable currency wasn’t always made for public consumption. Sure, the U.S. Mint made real silver dollars throughout the late 1800s, but the most special of all were 12 unique-coin experts now believe were most likely created as a decoration. That’s the only explanation why the government never officially listed these specimens, and it also explains why the edges were softer than on regular money. More importantly, these factors shot the value all the way up to $1 million.
18 The 1992 Gold 2,000 Yuan Celebrates the Great Wall
Important as rarity and age can be to a coin collector, one can’t underestimate the value of condition, which is often as important or more than mere age. Even to a non-collector, the aesthetics of the 1992 Gold 2,000 yuan alone are quite striking, made as part of a series to honor the greatest inventions and discoveries of Chinese history. Only 10 of the 2,000 yuan piece were ever made, specifically celebrating the compass and the country’s Great Wall, and containing a full kilogram of actual gold. To the right collector or Chinese history enthusiast, it can be worth $1.3 million.
17 The 1776 Continental Silver Dollar Sparked a Revolution
The United States Constitution wasn’t written until 1787, followed by the election of George Washington as the nation’s first President two years later. For this reason, the “first U.S. currency” didn’t officially crop up until 1794, as this list will later elaborate. That said, as soon as the Declaration of Independence was written, some Founding Fathers thought it necessary for the budding nation to have its own coinage, hence the creation of the 1776 continental silver dollar. Allegedly designed by Benjamin Franklin, the coin can now go for $1.41 million at auction.
16 The 1991 Chinese Panda Is Worth Its Weight In Gold (Times Six)
Every coin on this list is worth more than face value, but they’re also a lot more valuable to a collector than they are solely for the precious metals involved. The more actual gold is in a single coin, the more money it can rake in at auction.
Made with 5 kg of the metal, the metal in the 1991 Chinese Panda coin alone is worth over a $250,000, much more than the 10,000 yuan it technically represents.
Thanks to the beautiful designs and the historical provenance of being created to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the generic Panda coin, collectors shot that value all the way up to $1.6 million.
15 The 1894 Barber Dime Is a Survivor
With many coins on this list, a big part of what makes them so valuable is the fact only a small handful were ever made. While only 10 of the 1894 Barber dimes are still known to exist today, it’s said that the San Francisco mint actually made 2.5 million of them back when they were first produced. Amazingly, the economy was so horrible at the time that it made more financial sense to destroy all but 19 of these coins, making the select few survivors remarkably valuable and historic. When one of them was put up for auction in 2016, it eventually sold for just under $2 million.
14 The 1621 Polish Hundred Ducat Celebrated A Major Political Victory
In the modern era, virtually every world leader of a wealthy country gets a commemorative coin honoring their victory, and the tradition dates back several centuries. However, in the past, it wasn’t always a simple issue of getting elected, as seen after the demise of the King of Poland, Stephen Báthory in 1586. Once the new king Sigismund III took power, the country entered war after war to ensure the world accepted his reign.
Once all the fighting was finally over, he minted the ornate 100 ducat coin to celebrate, and the historic provenance behind the story now makes it worth $2.16 million.
It means even more that it has a symbolic value to it as well.
13 The 1907 U.S. Eagle Was Kept by the Director of the U.S. Mint
Every inventor or craftsman likely has pride in their work, and might want to keep a few early prototypes around after they get mass produced. That was definitely the case with Frank A. Leach, Director of the U.S. Mint in the early 1900s, who later became a huge coin collector after leaving that post.
Only around 50 of the 1907 $10 coins he created are still in existence, with the most expensive of all being the one Loach allegedly kept in his personal collection.
Perhaps because he intended to keep it, this coin is considered better quality than any of the others minted, and can go for $2.2 million to the right buyer.
12 The 1792 Birch Cent Existed Before the U.S. Mint
Officially speaking, the first American currency was created in 1794, two years after this rare Birch Cent came into existence. That alone makes the origin story behind it both confusing and incredibly historically important, leading to its extreme value.
Like any product in this world, the idea of the U.S. having its own money went through a brief experimental phase before becoming a reality, with this coin created essentially to test out the process.
Already, it was clear Presidents would play a big role in our cash system, as GW.PT. was inscribed on it to honor George Washington. While technically not real money, it’s now worth upwards of $2.5 million.
11 The 1808 Quarter Eagle Wasn’t Practical, But It is Valuable
After a couple hundred years to sort things out, America settled on a pretty workable system for denominations of cash, generally basing things on multiples of five. That was technically the case with the quarter eagle, but it’s hard to imagine people finding much use for a single piece of currency worth $2.50 today.
Of course, the fact it’s not very useful in a practical sense meant this coin quickly flew out of circulation, leaving only about 50 of them still in existence.
Those in the best condition can sell for amounts that would be even harder to make chance for, in the neighborhood of $2.35 million.
10 The 1792 Pattern Quarter Dollar Is Another Slice of Experimental History
Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the U.S. Mint first started experimenting with the type of currency that would soon become standard, they didn’t just make a few pennies and call it a day. Along with the 1792 Birch cent, they also created the pattern quarter, which is surprisingly worth a little bit less money today, albeit not by much.
Unlike the penny, which featured President George Washington, this coin looked more like the back of the modern version, featuring a globe and eagle.
9 The 1792 Pattern Disme Adds Interesting Spellings to Historic Provenance
The 1792 pattern on the quarters and pennies are more valuable, yet from a literal standpoint, the pattern “disme” from the same year may be the most unique. Naturally, this is because the “disme” doesn’t exist anymore, although there is something close in the modern “dime.”
It’s suggested that “disme” was simply a an archaic way to spell the now common word, but the spelling issue isn’t the only reason they’re so rare.
When America was first formed, the average person said they didn’t have any use for such a thing, meaning it was four full years before real dimes were minted, leaving these rare early versions worth over $1 million.
8 The 1898 Single 9 Pond Survived a Literal War
Few coins on this list have quite as intense a story as the 1898 Single 9 South African pond. Created during the Second Boer War, the coin signified Dutch efforts to remain independent from English control in regards to their South African territories. After all, 1899 coins were confiscated by British authorities, President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic added a single “9” to coins from 1898 in an act of defiance, to signify his reign wasn’t over. Eventually, the price of this single pound’s value shot up to 20 million rand, at the time equaling $4 million.
7 The 1804 Bowed Liberty Dollar Was Created as a Gift That Was Never Delivered
Despite social morays, there are still plenty of people who feel cold hard cash makes for a pretty excellent gift. That feeling could literally multiply by millions with any coin on this list, making the origin story to the 1804 Bowed Liberty dollar incredibly fitting.
Actually created in 1834, the coins were commissioned by President Andrew Jackson as gifts to the King of Siam and Sultan of Muscat to commemorate the first trade treaties between those nations and the U.S.
Unfortunately, America’s first envoy to the Far East, Edmund Roberts, passed away before delivering them, but eventually the coins were found and now range between $2 and $4 million.
6 The 1913 Liberty Head Nickel Was Rarer Than True Freedom
Technically, the 1914 Liberty Head Nickel was never supposed to exist. That year, the U.S. mint decided to switch from the classic design to a new model featuring a Native American and bison. Mistakes were made, though, and somehow they also pressed 5 of the older version along with the new ones. Naturally, this made that nickel of nickels incredibly valuable, with four out of five winding up in museums to this day. The one that still gets circulated routinely goes for seven figures, as it was the first coin to sell for more than $1 million, and the price tag later climbed to $5 million.
5 The 1804 $10 Proof Eagle Was Made as a Reference
Interested as coin collectors are in the rarest pieces around, the governments that issue them also find great value in their creation. That’s made clear with the 1804 Proof Eagle, which was actually created around 1834 as an example of the type of currency the United States was making some 30 years prior. At that point, $10 coins were no longer being created, so the Director of the Mint decided to make a handful of replications to show various diplomats, of which only three are known to survive today. The rarity and historical explanation lead to a price tag of $5 million.
4 The 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar Is Over a Millennium Old
By and large, the coins on this list are pretty old, and their age has a lot to do with why they’re so valuable. On that logic, this Umayyad gold dinar from the year 723 is certainly the rarest of all, somehow surviving nearly 1,400 years. Given this seriously advanced age, it’s hard even for experts to figure out exactly where it was made and why, but a prevailing theory is that it commemorated the Caliph at the time taking his hajj to Mecca. As such, it’s incredibly valuable to the entire Islamic world, and fetched over $6.3 million at auction.
3 The 1787 Brasher Doubloon Was Privately Made
Unique and rare as they are, the coins on this list were generally issued by the government and used as official currency. Not so for the 1787 Brasher Doubloon, which was actually something of a novelty item. That said, it was a pretty darn historic novelty, created by Ephraim Brasher, who happened to be next door neighbors with George Washington —while he was America’s first President.
Capitalizing on this fame, it’s believed Brasher made his coins as something of a souvenir for those visiting with the Founding Father.
Given the significance, one in really good condition, with Brasher’s initials front and center, recently sold for $7.4 million.
2 The 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Was Almost Erased From History
Valuable as coins are today, during the Great Depression, even a plain old nickel or dime could be outrageously important to the person who saved it. The American dollar was actually so weak that President FDR made possessing gold billions illegal, which was pretty unfortunate for the folks at the U.S. Mint who just created a bunch of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle $20 coins. They were supposed to be destroyed, but about 20 of them were saved. Most eventually went back to the government, but one of them wound up in the hands of King Farouk I of Egypt. Decades after his passing, it was rediscovered and sold for $7,370,000.
1 The 1794 Flowing Hair Coin Was The USA’s First Dollar
Compared to many other countries, the United States is still relatively young, making it one of the few places where the original dollar currency issued by the government still exists. Of course, after nearly 250 years, a good number of the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar coins have faded out of existence, and others are in pretty bad shape. That said, thanks to the historical provenance, even a Flowing Hair dollar rated “poor” could be worth $47,000.
Those in better condition are known to break records, with one selling for an incredible $10,016,875,
and even one with slightly less shine to it made nearly $5 million.