Most valuable American coins

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As the federal government prints billions of dollars to support a declining economy, some fear a dollar is worth nothing these days. They probably never saw a silver dollar from 1804.

A specimen in good condition is worth $ 10 million, making it America’s most valuable coin. With only 19 known copies, it is also the envy of numismatists across the country.

“Big collectors who don’t have one just bow their heads,” says John Albanese, president and founder of Certified Acceptance Corp., under whose auspices he has bought and sold more than 20 seven-figure coins.

In detail: the most valuable American coins

The 1804 Silver Dollar is one of four coins valued at over $ 5 million in good condition. The 1933 Star Double Eagle is second on the list at $ 8.5 million, followed by the 1913 Liberty Nickel at $ 5.9 million – strangely, one of the only legal pieces ever produced without the knowledge of the US currency. The $ 4.4 million Double Eagle from 1861 rounds out the top five, of which only two exist.

Behind the numbers

Our values ​​of these rare coins are courtesy of Nostomania.com, a collectibles appraiser run by software developers and engineers that generates price data by processing actual sales figures through a set of algorithms owners. These are theoretical values ​​- they assume each coin has a grade of MS-63 (on a scale of 1 to 70), numismatic jargon for very good condition. Some of these pieces are not known to exist in this exact state, but this is the only way to make an apples-to-apples comparison.

With the collapse of the stock market, many wealthy investors began to pay attention to rare coins because they have some intrinsic value. David Albanese, president of coin dealer Albanese Rare Coins (not related to John Albanese) estimates that the value of rare coins has increased by almost 25% in the past year.

“If you buy $ 1 million worth of stocks, it could go down to $ 20,000,” he says. “That just doesn’t happen with coins. They really are artifacts, and there are a limited number of rare ones left.”

Catch Me If You Can

The stories behind the coins often contribute to their value, but can also be their downfall.

The aforementioned 1933 Double Eagle, for example, is perhaps the rarest and most famous coin. As a result of a series of bizarre events that began to unfold almost a century ago, there is only one legal to own.

Shortly after the coins were minted, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order banning the circulation and possession of gold currency in an attempt to stabilize the country’s faltering banking system. As legend has it, a U.S. Mint cashier by the name of George McCann smuggled out a handful of coins before they could be destroyed.

The government discovered it in 1944, and the Secret Service immediately embarked on a quest to track down the missing pieces. However, shortly before the research began, Egyptian King Farouk acquired a Double Eagle and applied for a license to own it. Government officials unknowingly agreed to his request, and the coin was declared legal to own. When Farouk was deposited in 1952, the coin disappeared again.

Four decades later, a British coin dealer named Stephen Fenton was found in possession of what he claimed to be King Farouk’s coin during an undercover operation in New York City. As part of a settlement, he agreed to sell it at an open auction, and the record of $ 7.6 million he recovered from an anonymous buyer in 2002 was shared between Fenton and the US government. Prior to the auction, the coin was stored in a safe at the World Trade Center and then moved to Fort Knox just months before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In 2003, there was another twist in the saga: A Philadelphia woman named Joan Langbord discovered 10 Double Eagles in a safe belonging to her late father, Israel “Izzy” Switt, a jeweler long linked to the stash. of the McCann coin thief. . A year later, Langbord turned over the Double Eagles to the US Mint for certification. But federal authorities confiscated the parts in 2005, claiming they had been illegally seized, and Langbord is now suing the government to have them returned. The potential flood of Double Eagles kept the piece from climbing to the top of this list.

“If these hit the market, selling prices will certainly drop significantly,” says Tommy Jasmin of Nostomania.

Yet some collectors argue that machine-generated values ​​are not always accurate. John Albanese believes the 1933 Double Eagle is worth $ 7.5 million, a little less than its 2002 auction price, and 12% less than Nostomania’s figure.

Albanese has also heard rumors that the “Farouk Double Eagle,” now on display at the New York Federal Reserve, is not actually the one that belonged to King Farouk. He says the Egyptian monarch was famous for excessively wiping his coins, and the one in New York does not bear such marks. Is the real one still out there?

“I think so,” says Albanese. “But how are you going to prove it?”

Maybe the stock market isn’t such a bad place to invest after all.

In detail: the most valuable American coins

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