Top 15 Most Valuable U.S. Coins

Once in a while United States coin collecting generates worldwide headlines when a fabulous ultra-rarity makes its way onto the auction block.  Whenever big money trades hands to acquire a coin, baseball card, or Renaissance painting, the general public is naturally curious and tunes in.  It’s amazing how often a phrase like “Top 15 Most Valuable Coins” (or some variation thereof) is Googled.

Although every one of the Top 15 coins is worth more than one million dollars, together they play a role in maintaining the popularity of coin collecting that hobbyists at all levels should appreciate.

Let’s explore why this is true…

Testaments to Vibrancy of U.S. Numismatics

One of the most famous attention-grabber coins of all time is the 1913 Liberty Head nickel.  In 1944, this esteemed collectible (specifically, the Olsen specimen) sold for $3750, and then went on to become the first coin ever to break the $100,000 barrier in 1972.  By 1985, its selling price had risen to $385,000, but that was nothing compared to the $3.74 million the exact same coin brought in 2010. The next time it was sold was 2014, when a buyer got it for the bargain price of $3.29 million.  Today, it could easily fetch $4 million, if put on the open market.

Coins of this nature are so rare and valuable they are bought and sold on occasions separated by periods of years.  You will not find any of these collecting giants recommended in Key Date Coin List.  That’s because very few of us have the option of spending millions for a coin, so no point in listing them there.  

What’s this?  You can’t afford a 1913 Liberty nickel?  Don’t despair!  All of the Rare Coins 101 Key Date Recommendations are far more affordable and hold the same, if not more, potential to increase in percentage value.  (This is not to say the coins on the recommendation list are easy “chip shots”.  For example, an 1808 quarter eagle will still set you back at least $50,000 – admittedly a high bar for most average collectors – but still achievable with disciplined financial planning).

Nevertheless, the newsmaker coins are testaments to the vibrancy of U.S. numismatics and deserve our respect and admiration.  Their celebrity status and staggering selling prices serves as a continual revitalizing force, attracting curious new devotees while stoking interest within the coin collecting community.  Plus, they are fascinating to study and elicit tons of daydreaming! 

There are a couple of points to spotlight:

  • The majority of famous rarities are sold through auction companies that circulate “Prices Realized” fact sheets.  Sometimes, a multi-million-dollar coin goes to a new owner through a private transaction, and these sales are not always publicized.  If the amount paid in a private sale is confirmed and merits a spot on the “Top 15” list, it will be included.
  • I do my best to keep the “Top 15” current, but if someone has an update or cares to comment otherwise, a communication form is available for that purpose at bottom of this page.

With all the obligatory intro stuff done, it’s now time to present the Top 15 Most Valuable Coins…

Here They Are: Top 15 Most Valuable U.S. Coins

Note:  The Top 15 List is currently being compiled and will be published soon! (Sorry if you've been reading this in anticipation of the list)

Here they are!  As a reminder these are for United States coins only.  If a Top 15 list were compiled of world coins, you’d see ancient coins, private issues, and a few others mixed in.  Coins from the United States dominate the Top 15 global lineup, once again demonstrating the international acclaim of U.S. coin collecting.

Coin 1

Coin 2




Coin 15

These Guys Off Limits -- for Now

Some of the rarest coins in existence and of the greatest value reside in places where they likely will remain for many years to come.  They are off limits for now, but if any one of these coins were to hit the market it would be of enormous consequence to the numismatic world, and effortlessly find a place in the Top 15 Most Valuable Coins.  Probably even in the Top Five!

Coin 1



Coin x

Search Grandma’s Old Coin Shoebox!

There always exists the possibility that someday a heretofore unknown example of a highly prized rarity will surface, no doubt raising more than a few eyebrows.  It’s not a stretch to imagine somewhere sits an unsearched hoard in a shoebox where hidden away is a million-dollar coin (incredible discoveries like this have happened before).  No one bothers to investigate the contents of the box because believe it or not, some people have absolutely zero interest or curiosity about coins.  They’re just a bunch of old coins passed down as family keepsakes from grandma.

Impossible, you say?  Not so fast.  In 1873, the San Francisco Mint reportedly struck 700 silver dollars.  Today, not a single specimen is known anywhere.  What happened to them all?  Although extensively researched, no one has ever been able to determine their fate.  If one were to show up, it certainly would bring a seven-figure sum, if offered for sale.

Another example is the 1894-S dime.  Of the 24 minted, today we know of the whereabouts of only nine examples, including two displaying circulation wear, one of which was first spent on an ice cream cone by the daughter of the San Francisco Mint superintendent.  The finest numismatic scholars have studied the matter and cannot say with certainty what happened to the other 15.  Possibly one of them bought a ride on a trolley car and is now part of a neglected stash in a Victorian-era attic somewhere.  Who knows?

Perhaps now is the time to check out more carefully grandma’s shoebox of coins!

Please use the communication form below to comment or nominate a coin to be listed somewhere on Rare Coins 101 "Top 15 Most Valuable U.S. Coins" page.  Include a reference source for verification purposes.

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.