Every so often, a coin comes along that is so rare that it is truly almost priceless. Of course, even “priceless” things have a price these days – but they are often so absurdly expensive that it is hard to wrap your head around.
Up until recently, the most expensive coin ever sold was the 1794 “Flowing Hair” silver dollar. In 2013, collector Bruce Morelan paid a reported $10 million for the coin ($10,016,875 to be precise – in this case, the extra $16,875 is “just” a rounding error!)
In June 2021, that record was shattered by an exceptionally rare coin. Only 13 of these coins are thought to remain, and 12 of those are held by the US government. This leaves only one privately held.
The most expensive coin in the world is the 1933 “Saint Gaudens” Double Eagle, which sold in June 2021 for a whopping $18,872,250.
Yes, that’s nearly nineteen million dollars for a single coin.
The 1933 Double Eagle was auctioned by Sotheby’s on behalf of private collector Stuart Weitzman. The last time the coin was sold was in 2003, when it was auctioned for $7,370,000.
This coin is not only exceptionally rare; it’s also in incredible condition. It was rated as Gem Brilliant Uncirculated – PCGS MS 65 CAC.
The reason that this coin fetched such an astronomical price at auction was because it is the only 1933 gold Double Eagle that can be legally owned by a private collector.
When the US Mint originally auctioned the coin in 2002, the catalogue confirmed this:
“This is the only 1933 Double Eagle monetized and issued by the United States Mint. It is also the only example that the United States Government has ever authorized, or ever intends to authorize, for private ownership.”
“. . . Any additional examples that may exist are, similarly, property of the United States Government, illegal to own, and subject to seizure.”
There are twelve other known 1933 Double Eagles. Two are held by the U.S. National Numismatic Collection, while the remaining ten are held at the Fort Knox Bullion Depository.
Being that there are only 13 left remaining, you would likely assume that there weren’t many 1933 Double Eagles minted. But you would be wrong! The official mintage number was actually 445,500 – but all but around twenty were melted down.
No 1933 Double Eagles ever reached circulation. In fact, the vast majority of them were melted down before they ever left the mint. Read about the history of the 1933 Gold Double Eagle here.
The 1933 Gold Double eagle nearly doubled the previous record for most expensive coin. But what are some of the other top contenders?
Interestingly, six of the top 10 most expensive coins ever sold were sold in the last three years. It seems that the market for ultra high-end coins has never been hotter!