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Whether you’re a seasoned coin collector or just taking your first steps into precious metals investment, you’re likely quite familiar with the value of gold coins.
Gold is a popular choice for investors because these coins tend to retain their value and beauty over time. They also feature a high value-to-weight ratio – a single gold coin could be worth thousands of dollars or more.
Below, learn about the world’s most valuable gold coins and the fascinating history behind each specimen.
A Brief History of Gold Coins
Ancient cultures recognized the value of gold as early as the Bronze Age. People originally used raw gold as a trading material. King Croesus invented gold coins during the sixth century BCE in Lydia (an area that’s now part of Turkey). The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Gold coin mintage quickly spread to cultures around the world. By the late 19th century, many of the world’s currencies were tied to gold at a specific price per ounce. You may have heard this referred to as the “gold standard.”
America abandoned the gold standard around 1933 due to gold hoarding during the Great Depression. Because many nations stopped making gold coins, their rarity eventually caused their value to skyrocket.
The Top Nine Most Valuable Gold Coins
How much is a gold coin worth today? If you own one of these specimens, you could be holding a gold coin that’s worth millions of dollars.
1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle
Minted in the United States, the 1933 Double Eagle has a face value of $20. The government minted 445,500 specimens, but none were ever officially circulated.
The U.S. ordered all 1933 Double Eagles melted down, but thieves rescued 20 coins and eventually sold them to collectors. Today, only 13 known specimens of the 1933 Double Eagle remain.
Of these, 10 specimens reside in the U.S. Fort Knox Bullion Depository, and the U.S. National Numismatic Collection holds two others. An anonymous private owner holds the final coin. This last coin is known as the Weitzman Specimen because Stuart Weitzman purchased it for $7.59 million in 2002, then sold it at auction for $18.8 million in 2021. This makes it the most expensive coin ever sold.
1343 Edward III Florin
King Edward III introduced this gold coin in 1343. It had a value of six shillings and contained nearly seven ounces of pure gold.
Edward III wanted to make a coin that could be used in England and Europe. But merchants saw that the coin was incorrectly tariffed and refused to accept it, so England withdrew it from circulation after just a few months.
One side of the coin features the royal cross and images of leopards. Emblazoned on this side is the phrase, “IHC TRANSIENS PER MEDIUM ILLORUM IBAT,” which means, “But Jesus passing through their midst went his way.”
The reverse side shows the king enthroned under a canopy. Encircling the image is the wording, “EDWR D GRA REX ANGL FRANC DNS HIB,” which translates to, “Edward, by the Grace of God King of England and France, Lord of Ireland.”
Only three of these extremely valuable coins have survived the centuries. One Edward III Florin sold at a 2006 auction for £460,000, which is nearly $600,000 in today’s U.S. dollars. The British Museum holds the remaining two, which were found in 1857 in the Tyne River.
1787 Brasher Doubloon
Ephraim Brasher minted this gold coin in 1787 after the State of New York denied his petition to mint copper coins. The coin had a value of $16 and contained 26.6 grams of 22-karat gold.
One Brasher Doubloon sold at auction for $625,000 in 1981. In 2005, Heritage Auction Galleries sold three styles of the Brasher Doubloon to private collectors, with one coin fetching nearly $3 million.
A Wall Street investment firm bought one for $7.4 million in 2011. At the time, this was the highest price anyone had paid for a coin made in the United States. In 2021, Heritage Auctions broke this record by selling a Brasher Doubloon for $9.36 million.
1907 $20 Saint-Gaudens
President Theodore Roosevelt enlisted the help of designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens to mint this coin. Collectors agree that this is one of the most attractive U.S. coins ever minted.
The U.S. Mint produced these coins from 1907 to 1933. Like all other gold coins, their value varies depending on the condition and year of mintage. For instance, a 1922 Saint-Gaudens has a value of around $1,500. An uncirculated 1927 Saint-Gaudens could fetch as much as $475,000.
The 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar
Collectors value the 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar as one of the most expensive and rare Islamic coins. This coin came into being during the reign of Yazid II, who ruled from 720 to 724. Yazid II minted this coin after discovering a gold mine in his territory. The coin bears an inscription that translates to “Mine of the Commander of the Faithful.”
One Umayyad Gold Dinar sold at auction for approximately £3.7 million ($4.6 million in today’s U.S. dollars). Another sold for a similar price in 2019.
1829 Proof Capped Bust Gold Half Eagle
The U.S. minted this coin in 1829 in Philadelphia. It features a bust of Lady Liberty on one side and striking half-eagles on the other. This coin comes in two varieties, one with a small date and another with a date that’s slightly larger.
Collectors estimate that around 10 of these coins remain today. An uncirculated MS-60 Capped Bust Gold Half Eagle can sell for around $260,000, while an uncirculated MS-63 sells for about $492,000. A proof (PR-63) could fetch about $1.5 million.
2007 $1 Million Canadian Gold Maple Leaf
Minted in 2007, this Canadian coin features a whopping 100 kilograms of nearly 100% pure gold. Its diameter measures 500 millimeters, or more than 20 times the size of a U.S. quarter.
One side of the coin features three Canadian maple leaves. The other depicts the profile of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Royal Canadian Mint produced only six specimens and sold five to private collectors. In 2017, a thief stole one specimen from the Bode Museum in Germany.
Today, the coin could fetch a value of approximately $4 million.
1913 Liberty Head V Nickel
It’s thought that a man named Samuel Brown produced these coins without authorization at the Philadelphia Mint. The producer only minted five Liberty Head V nickels, making this one of the rarest and most valuable gold coins in existence.
Although these coins only have a face value of five cents, the value to collectors is far higher. A quality Liberty Head V nickel can sell for more than $5 million.
1804 Eagle Gold Coin
The U.S. minted 3,327 of these specimens in response to a national coin shortage in 1804. One variety of this coin bears 14 stars, while the rarer of the two features 13 stars.
The value of a 14-star reverse coin ranges from $6,000 to $28,000. The 13-star variety is far more valuable, fetching $45,000 to $200,000.
Most Valuable Gold Coins in Circulation Today
Not every collector can get their hands on one of the world’s most valuable gold coins, like those described above. But countries around the world still produce gold coins, making these far more accessible to the average collector.
American Gold Eagle
This coin is a popular choice for American coin investors. The coins are small and lightweight, yet they retain their value quite well.
An American Gold Eagle has a face value of $5 and sells for $160 to $210. The 1/10 2015 American Gold Eagle is the most affordable and widely available specimen.
American Gold Buffalo
Created in 2006, the American Gold Buffalo was the first 24-karat bullion coin minted by the U.S. It features a striking design of an American Indian bust on one side and a buffalo on the reverse.
American Gold Buffalo coins in good condition can sell for nearly $3,000.
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf
The Royal Canadian Mint introduced the Gold Maple Leaf in 1979, and this coin remains available for use as legal tender today.
In 2007, Canada minted a Gold Maple Leaf boasting a metal value of more than $3.5 million. A thief stole one of six specimens from the Bode Museum in 2017. Today, the coin’s whereabouts remain a mystery.
Australian Gold Kangaroo
The Perth Mint introduced this coin in 1987. It originally featured an image of a gold nugget. Three years after its introduction, Australia switched the image to a kangaroo. The coin can weigh as little as one-tenth of an ounce or as much as one kilogram. Face value ranges from $15 to $100 (AUS).
Prices for this coin vary based on weight and year of mintage. You could pay as little as $200 or more than $2,000 depending on the coin’s condition.
Chinese Gold Panda
The People’s Republic of China first minted the Gold Panda in 1982. The panda design has changed every year, with the exception of 2001 and 2002. Values range from 10 yuan to 100 yuan depending on weight.
One of the most valuable specimens is the one-ounce 1995 Gold Panda, which can sell for about $4,000.
Factors That Make a Gold Coin Valuable
Wondering whether your coin is worth pennies or a million-dollar fortune? Collectors use these factors to determine a gold coin’s value.
Generally, coins with fewer specimens in existence fetch a higher price than coins that collectors can find easily. Some very rare coins can sell for millions at auction.
Collectors love coins that bear historical significance. Gold coins that feature artwork from a famous designer fetch a higher price, for instance, as do coins used by ancient cultures. Coins minted by kings and other historic royalty strongly appeal to collectors, who will pay thousands or even millions for specimens.
Even rare coins won’t sell for a high price if they’re in poor condition. Tarnished, scratched, and faded coins are worth far less than coins in pristine condition.
Circulated coin conditions range from Good to Extra Fine. Uncirculated coin grades range from MS-60 (Typical) to MS-70 (Perfect).
Grading conditions differ for ancient coins, as it’s expected for these specimens to have suffered wear over the years. An ancient coin in good condition might have less than 30% of the original inscription visible. A mint coin has no visible wear. Ancient coins in mint condition are extremely rare and valuable.
It may surprise you that a coin from 1983 sells for just $200 while a coin minted only one year later can fetch thousands of dollars or more. The year of printing, also called mintage, plays a major part in a gold coin’s value. A country may have printed fewer coins during a certain year, for instance, driving up their value with collectors.
Coins featuring attractive or interesting designs may have a higher value. When the Perth Mint switched from a gold nugget to a kangaroo design, for example, collector interest increased significantly.
Importance of Authentication and Grading for Valuable Gold Coins
It’s unfortunately easy for counterfeiters to produce fake gold coins that fool even experienced collectors. A professional third-party coin grader can test your coins to determine their authenticity.
Grading your coins also gives you proof of their condition and value. Collectors won’t pay top dollar for coins that you haven’t graded, which means you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars or more.
Investment Potential of Valuable Gold Coins
Unlike cash, the value of gold remains relatively stable, making gold coins a smart choice for the savvy investor.
Factors to Consider When Investing
Gold is a highly-liquid asset that you can exchange quickly for cash, especially compared to other types of investments, like stocks and bonds. That said, most financial professionals consider gold a low-risk investment with fairly small returns.
Historical Price Trends
Gold’s value usually goes up over time. As of 2023, gold futures have a value of approximately $2,000. Although the price dipped in value a few times, it has stayed mostly stable throughout the year.
Predictions for the Future of the Most Valuable Gold Coins
Gold prices fluctuate based on economic uncertainties, potential recessions, and concerns over the banking sector. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions also affect the price of gold.
Market turbulence makes it difficult to predict gold’s worth in the next few years. However, a Reuters poll of 38 financial analysts estimates that the price could settle at $1,890 in 2024.
Risks and Challenges of Investing in the Most Valuable Gold Coins
Before investing in gold, ask whether you’ll actually hold the metal in your name. Investing in a gold-backed ETF is different than physically holding gold coins. Funds that make bad choices could put you at risk of losing your investment.
You should also consider any fees associated with your investment. Some gold dealers charge hidden fees that can make investing with them a bad deal for you.
Price volatility is another risk. Although gold’s value typically trends higher over time, it’s possible that it could drop in price. That means you could lose money on your investment.
How to Purchase the Most Valuable Gold Coins
If you’ve decided to invest in gold coins, you’re likely wondering where to buy them. Local coin sellers may offer a decent selection, but you’ll usually find the widest variety of options and the best prices when you buy online.
It’s possible to buy coins from private sellers on auction sites, but do your research before making a purchase. Ensure that the seller has a good reputation and reliably delivers the coins buyers pay for. If you can’t find any information about the seller, it’s best to steer clear of them.
Note that collector’s coins — also called numismatic coins — may go for much higher values than bullion coins. In addition, numismatic coins also have their own sub-markets, which makes it hard for anyone but experienced collectors to know their real value.
Where and How to Store Valuable Gold Coins
It’s tempting to store the most valuable gold coins in your home, but don’t do it unless you own a strong, high-quality safe. Thieves can easily track down your coins with a metal detector, even if you think you’ve hidden them well. Instead, consider storing your coins in a safe at your bank; this way, you can wo
Always keep your coins in their cases to protect them from damage and fingerprints. If you touch your coins, make sure to clean and dry them before putting them back in the case.
Discover more about the most valuable gold coins by reaching out to Oxford Gold Group. Explore our gold products, ask about gold IRAs, and more. Consider contacting us today to speak to a professional and get more information.