When we think about currency, it is sometimes to surprising to realise that different coins may be made of the same, or similar, materials, and yet possess completely different values. Generally, the older and rarer a coin is, the more value it will carry, although some coins might also be considered valuable for other reasons as we explain below.
The flowing hair dollar
The flowing hair dollar is the first dollar that was ever issued by the United States government. Dating back to 1794, the coin was based on the design of the Spanish dollar and is made of an alloy that consists of mainly silver with a small amount of copper. As this coin was only in production for two years, it is understandably rare and has long been considered one of the most valuable additions to a coin collection. In 2013, one specimen was sold for $10,016,875 – the highest recorded price paid for a coin.
The double eagle
The double eagle, a coin made from 90 percent gold, is a rare sight indeed. Produced in 1933, it was a 20-dollar coin that was put into production but never released into circulation. Thanks to the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, by the time the coin was finished it was no longer considered legal tender and most of the coins were melted down. Two were given to the U.S. National Numismatic Collection and some were smuggled out, although it is thought that only 40 of the coins are still in existence. In 2002, a private owner purchased one of the coins for $7.59 million.
The Brasher Doubloon
The Brasher Doubloon is a privately minted coin that was produced by Ephraim Brasher in 1787. Both a goldsmith and a silversmith, Brasher minted the coins when he petitioned the State of New York to produce copper coins. Considered very rare, only a small number of these coins are in existence with one know to have been sold to a Wall Street firm for $7.4 million.
The Edward III Florin
The oldest coin on our list, this dates back to 1343 and was produced by King Edward III in an attempt to provide coinage suitable for use in Europe and England simultaneously. It was made of gold and at the time carried a value of six shillings. Unfortunately, the coins were considered underweight and were put out of use after only a few months with the order to melt them down in order to produce a coin called the gold noble instead. As such, there are only three copies of this coin known to exist currently. Two of them are on display in the British Museum and the last know example was sold at auction in 2006 for £460,000.