The Most Valuable Gold Coins

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Last Updated on: 2nd December 2021, 08:53 am

Pure gold coins are renowned for keeping and increasing their value over time. Their growing value is in part due to the price of gold, however, most of the rise in value will come from three other factors. These features are the core of the numismatic world and give certain coins million dollar valuations.

The Numismatic factors 

The condition of the coin, determined by the Mint Strike (MS) or Proof (PR) number. Both numbers go from 1 to 70, where 1 is a barely recognizable coin and 70 is a coin in perfect or mint condition. MS70 or PR70 coins are considered the summit of the coin collecting sphere.

The grade or condition of the coin is the first factor a coin collector will consider. However, the other two factors, rarity and demand, are just as important. For example, some coins were minted but then withdrawn from circulation leaving only a few in the hands of collectors.

The beauty and the rarity of the coin will determine the strength in demand a certain coin may develop. Some antique coins, at times thousands of years old, may still summon million dollar valuations although their conditions are obviously less than perfect. The most valuable gold coins are therefore extremely beautiful, rare, and in more modern times, of mint condition. 

What is the rarest gold coin in the world? 

Possibly the rarest gold coin that has been put up for auction is that of a gold Aureus dating back to the fourth decade BC. The coin was commissioned by Brutus, Julius Cesar’s nephew, famous for having participated in the assassination of the self-appointed emperor.

The coin was authenticated by NGC and auctioned for just over $4.1 million in October 2020. Only 3 coins are currently known to be in existence. Perhaps one of the most striking details about the coin is the two daggers, the weapon type used in the assassination of Julius Cesar. On the same side of the coin, we can see the inscription “EID MAR” which translates to “Ideas of March” 

March was the month in which Cesar was assassinated, therefore the inscription with the daggers almost seems to celebrate the event. Until the discovery of this coin only two others were known to be in existence. These factors increase the coin's rarity and collectability.  

Multi-million dollar US gold coins 

Some coins have become extremely valuable, so much so, they even dwarf the price paid for the Aureus mentioned above. Their beauty, rarity, and quality condition have created such a high demand that many of them are owned by alternative investment funds.

Let’s have a look at a list of the top three.

The Ultra High Relief Saint-Gauden’s Double Eagle 1907 – Estimated $7 Million 

This coin was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He produced a very intricate and complicated design, so much so that the United States Mint could not make such a coin. The inscription “In God We Trust” was removed in the process to simplify the design. However, congress was not impressed by the redesign and only a limited number were produced.   

The design was so complicated that the mint had to use several blows from the dies to make Saint-Gaudens' creation. The process was too laborious for commercial use and only 24 of the original proofs were made. The coin was last sold at a public auction in 2005 for $2.99 million. However, it recently exchanged hands in a private sale valued at $7 million.

The Brasher Doubloon 1787 – $9.36 Million  

This coin was designed by Ephraim Brasher with the idea in mind of minting copper coins. This metal was not considered by the New York state as appropriate and the project was discarded. However, Brasher did mint them anyway, mostly in bronze, but he also minted a few in 22-carat gold. These rare gold coins are the ones that have so much value.

This coin sold at auction in January 2021 for $9.36 million setting a record for the second most expensive US gold coin at the time. The grade for this coin is MS65, yet the rarity and the beauty of the coin are factors that have pushed its evaluation so high.

The Double Eagle 1933 – $18.9 million

This coin was minted in the year Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued executive order 6102 requiring Americans to surrender their gold at the current price. The order was part of FDR’s plan to stabilize the banking crisis. 

By the time the coins were ready to be released EO 6102 had come into effect. The coins had already been pressed but were never officially distributed to the public. However, 20 of them managed to filter through to the public. 

On June 8th, 2021 this coin sold at auction for $18.87 million at Sotheby's New York. Before the latest sale, this coin had changed hands in 2002 for a then-record $7.6 million. Apart from all the virtues of the 1933 Double Eagle, this coin also has that extra bit of history that makes it ever so much more valuable.

The King of Egypt's Coin Collection 

This particular example found its way into the personal coin collection of King Farouk I of Egypt in 1944. A special export license was granted to allow the Egyptian monarch to take possession. 

In 1954 the Egyptian government sold the King's coin collection, and the US government asked the coin be removed from sale and returned to the United States. However, the coin disappeared until 1996 when it was found again. 

In this year, agents from the US government seized the coin while in the hands of a prominent coin dealer who was in possession of the original export license. Due to legal loopholes, the coin dealer was able to get the government to split the proceeds of the coin's sale in 2002.

Wrapping Up 

Gold coins have been of value throughout the ages, to all people across the globe. That society will continue to use gold coins as a store of value does not seem to be changing. Gold has particular characteristics that mean it keeps and grows its value over time. While gold coins add to that other features, such as collectability, rarity, and beauty.

Buying gold coins can be a way to add an alternative investment to your portfolio. They can also be a store of wealth and will last for generations as they are passed down to your kin. These coins do not default and the added quality of collectability means they may have more value than just that of their weight in gold.


Gino D'Alessio
Gino D'Alessio

Gino D'Alessio is a broker/dealer with over twenty years experience in various OTC markets such as bonds, FX and derivatives. He is currently a financial markets and investments writer & analyst.

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