Gold coins are highly prized for their beauty and history. In fact, some rare pieces sell for millions at auction.
Many factors determine a coin’s value, including mintage figures, metal composition, and history. Read on to learn more about the most valuable gold coins in the world! These top picks are worthy additions to any portfolio or collection.
1933 Saint Gaudens Gold Eagle
The most valuable gold coin in the world is the 1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle, and this storied piece of American history has an equally illustrious back story. Designed by the genius Augustus Saint-Gaudens and once owned by Egypt’s King Farouk, the gold coin is one of America’s most famous treasures and has been featured in countless thrillers, history books, documentaries, and primetime television crime shows.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt decided that the designs of US coins lacked artistic merit and commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to revamp them. The master sculptor was unable to complete the entire project due to his poor health, so he entrusted Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber to edit his designs for easier production. The result was the $20 Double Eagle; today, it remains one of the most valuable coins in the world.
The coin’s enduring appeal can be traced back to the Great Depression. As the United States struggled with the financial pains of the Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted a number of drastic measures to help allay the national crisis. One of these measures was to outlaw private ownership of gold, and the resulting ban effectively halted the production of new U.S. coins. Despite this, a handful of 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles managed to slip out of guarded mint bags and onto the private market.
This particular coin was purchased in 2002 for $7,590,020 by shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, who has donated a portion of its proceeds to charitable ventures, including his own. The sale set a record for a single coin, but Weitzman also offered two other remarkable treasures at the auction: an “inverted Jenny” stamp, which pictures an airplane upside down, and a British Guiana 1-cent black on a magenta stamp that sold for $4,860,000.
While the sale of these three masterpieces exceeded expectations, the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle was clearly the star of the show, beating both the inverted Jenny and the British Guiana stamp by more than a million dollars each. As it is the only known 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle in private hands, this prestigious piece of American history will continue to be one of the world’s most desirable and sought-after gold coins.
1909 Liberty Head Double Eagle
In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt decided that America’s coins were unattractive and commissioned the famous American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the nation’s coinage. Saint-Gaudens produced a new double eagle gold coin that is widely considered the most beautiful of all U.S. gold coins. The double eagle was the largest denomination of United States coins at the time, and, like all U.S. gold coins, it was made of 21.6-karat gold.
The obverse of the coin features Saint-Gaudens’ famous Lady Liberty striding forward with a torch and olive branch in her hand. The reverse of the coin shows a majestic bald eagle in flight.
This coin is a classic example of American sculptural art at the peak of its power. The coin was minted in 1907 and remained in circulation until 1933. While this coin is no longer used as legal tender in the US, its value is still incredibly high. It is widely regarded as the most beautiful coin in the world and is a popular choice for collectors and investors alike.
In the 19th century, a $20 coin was a significant amount of money. It could purchase a large farm or a substantial amount of land. Gold was a sought-after commodity at this time, and many people were willing to invest in it.
When this coin first saw the light of day in 1908, it caused a sensation. It was one of the few U.S. coins to feature an Indian brave instead of the goddess Liberty, and it was also unique in that its designs and legends were engraved in relief rather than raised above the surface, as most U.S. coins are.
Despite the controversy surrounding this coin, it went on to become one of the most popular in American history. While most of these coins were melted in the 1930s, a few high-grade specimens survived. Today, a well-struck coin in Extremely Fine grade can sell for more than $10,000. As more and more collectors become interested in the Indian Head Double Eagle, its value will continue to climb.
1870-S Indian Princess Head Gold $3
The 1870-S Indian Princess Head Gold $3 ranks as one of the most valuable coins in American numismatics. It is not only a stunning rarity but also an enigma with an intriguing history. The coin has been called the greatest American numismatic mystery and is a must-have for any serious collection.
This small coin is only 15 millimeters in diameter and weighs just 1.672 grams. It contains a tiny 0.04837 troy ounce of gold. Its small size and substantial numismatic value mean they have higher premiums over the spot than larger bullion coins.
Gold coins were in use as far back as the 17th century and continued to be minted until the early 20th century. The California Gold Rush saw the rise of many private mints that produced a wide variety of gold coins. While these were primarily used as bullion, they also served as actual currency in the Western United States. The three-dollar gold pieces were one of the most common denominations struck at these private mints.
In 1907, a collector named Van Camp discovered an 1822 Capped Bust $5 Half Eagle in a California gold mine. It was reportedly a “reverse proof.” The coin passed through several prominent numismatists, including William H. Woodin, before being sold in 1911. It is rumored that the coin was originally supposed to go into the cornerstone of a new San Francisco Mint building.
The coin has a distinct reverse and is also known for its very low mintage. Its obverse design was created by James B. Longacre, the United States Mint’s Chief Engraver, from 1844 to 1869. Longacre designed a number of significant coins, including the Flying Eagle cent and the Indian Head penny.
The coin is incredibly rare, but there is one major caveat: you must be very careful to authenticate it. In fact, a counterfeit version was circulating as recently as 2018. The Bass Auction House is currently selling an 1870-S Indian Princess Gold $3 in Uncirculated condition for $1,075,500. This is a huge markup over the $3.6 million that it was worth in 2022.
1787 Brasher Doubloon
The Brasher Doubloon is a gold coin that captures the history of the young United States. The coins were privately minted in 1787, five years before the federal mint opened, by a New York City gold and silversmith named Ephraim Brasher. He was a prominent citizen of the new nation and lived next door to George Washington. In fact, he furnished silverware for the future president on more than one occasion. His EB hallmark appears on the eagle’s breast on these gold pieces.
The coin’s value stems not just from its gold content but also from Brasher’s close ties to the first president of the United States. He and the future president were next-door neighbors in lower Manhattan when the Doubloons were minted, and Brasher was well-connected to the political elite of the infant nation.
A gold Doubloon from the Brasher Mint has a reputation as a collector’s item and is considered an icon of US numismatics. Despite its high price tag, the coin can still be found in circulated condition. The rare coin has also been a key component of several numismatic auctions. It is so rare and sought after that it holds the record for the highest price paid for a gold coin in the United States.
Heritage Auctions sold this particular coin in January 2021 for a staggering $9.36 million, beating the previous record-holder of a 1933 Double Eagle. Monaco Rare Coins and a West Coast collector brokered the sale.
This coin is a unique specimen of the Brasher Doubloon. Only seven of these gold Doubloons are known to exist, and the one that was just sold is a very fine example. It is the only one of its kind to have Brasher’s initials (EB) punched on the eagle’s wing.
The obverse of the coin features a sun rising over a mountain and an open sea in the background with the state motto “NOVA EBORACA COLUMBIA EXCELSIOR” (New York, America, Higher and Ever Higher) around it. The coins also have a heraldic eagle that holds an olive branch in its talons and arrows in its wings, with 13 stars around the eagle’s head and the national motto of the United States: E Pluribus Unum.