You don’t need to know anything about coins to know that there are some pieces of our history that are worth a ton of money. This includes coins dating as far back as the 1800s, like the one in the following story.
Finding a gold coin as rare as this one is like “finding a Picasso at a garage sale.” It’s a discovery of a lifetime and that’s probably why no one believed him…
California Gold Rush, 1854
At the height of the California Gold Rush in 1854, the San Francisco Mint produced less than 300 special $5 coins. Only three were known to still survive, until recently, as there are now four.
Convinced His Coin Was Fake
While the owner of the fourth coin has chosen to remain anonymous, he was convinced the gold coin was fake. Upon taking the coin to show to few collectors and dealers at a coin show, everyone thought it was fake, insisting that there was no way he could have a rare 1854 piece like that…
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
After getting nowhere at the coin show, the man decided to take his coin to a rare coin authentication company called Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). They’re a Florida-based company that does third-party authentication of coins and once they received the gold coin, they knew authenticating it wouldn’t be easy.
Du Pont Family
NGC had to first compare it to the three coins that currently exist, although the biggest problem was that one of those coins was stolen. It belonged to the Du Pont family in 1967, while the chemical company heir Willis H. Du Pont and his family were home, thieves broke in, tied them up, and made off with the coin from their Florida mansion…
The Coin Is Still Missing
The criminals took over 7,000 rare coins from the family, some of which have been found in strange places over the years. However, Du Pont’s rare $5 piece from 1854, known as a Liberty Head Half Eagle, is still missing.
Determining Its Authenticity
Richard Montgomery, President of NGC wanted to make sure that this wasn’t the stolen coin, so they obtained images from when it was previously auctioned in 1962. Once they determined it wasn’t the stolen Du Pont coin, the company received quality images from the Smithsonian, where one of the coins is held, as well as from the Pogue Family, private collectors who own millions in coins…
Looking For Similarities
Montgomery says that in authenticating the coin, he looked for common things. “You’ll see the four in the digit is slightly attenuated or not as high in relief as the regular part of the four…We noticed that was exactly the same as the Smithsonian piece.”
Where Did Such A Rare Coin Come From?
Similarities like that along with comprehensive methods to inspect the coin, helped them verify that this piece was indeed real. But where did the coin come from? Was it discovered at a garage sale?
The Owner Lives In New England
While NGC is keeping that information confidential to respect the owner’s wishes, they did say that the owner resides in New England and he is male. As far as the exact value of the coin, Montgomery says that it’s not his job to determine that since they don’t deal in the sales of coins and they only provide authentication and quality assessments.
“It’s Worth Millions”
However, if he had to guess, Montgomery says, “It’s worth millions.” It is incredibly rare to find something like this, as rare as “finding a Picasso at a garage sale.” However, if you’ve been in the business as long as they have, the time comes where a rarity will pop up out of nowhere. To get an idea of how many millions this rare coin can go for, let’s compare it to other coins…
1891 US Red Seal $1,000 Bill ($2.5 Million)
The $1,000 bill printed in 1891 depicts Major General George Gordon Meade on its face and was sold for $2.5 million in April 2013. Part of its high value stems from its age and rarity, in addition to the hands it passed through during history, making it one of the world’s most expensive banknotes ever sold.
1913 Liberty Head Nickel ($3.7 Million)
This 1913 nickel was pressed without having the approval of the U.S. Mint. Only five nickels managed to make their way into the public domain, the most expensive of which was purchased for $3.7 million. The ones that are believed to be found in mint condition, could be worth as much as $20 million…
1804 Silver Dollar, Class I ($3.8 Million)
This 1804 silver dollar was not actually minted in 1804. In fact, it was pressed 30 years later as a mix-up when minting dollars as gifts for Asian rulers on trade envoy visits. When sold by auctioneers Heritage Auctions in May 2008, it sold for $3.7 million at auction.
1804 Silver Dollar, Class I ($4.1 Million)
This silver dollar is from the same set of 15, as the previous one. This one, however, was sold by Bowers and Marena for $4.1 million. Still, in both cases, it’s rather impressive that something worth a single dollar could sell for so much…
2007 C$1M Coin (4.1 Million)
A 100kg coin is, in itself, a rarity. But after you add the fact that it was specially minted by the Royal Canadian Mint for the occasion and that it is made of nearly pure (99.99%) gold, the $1 million face value gets inflated to auction to $4.1 million.
1343 Edward III Florin ($6.8 million)
Think about how many coins you lose between the cushions of the sofa. Now, think about how many coins you may have lost over 670 years. This is exactly why the Edward III gold coin is so rare. It was minted in 1343 and it has survived many centuries…
1787 Brasher Doubloon ($7.4 Million)
Ephraim Brasher, a talented goldsmith, petitioned New York State to mint a new set of coins in copper in 1787. However, even when the state legislature didn’t want Brasher’s work and didn’t want copper coins, Brasher ignored their decision and went ahead minting coins anyway. Most of them were in bronze but a precious few were 22-carat gold. This doubloon was bought by a Wall Street investment firm for about $7.4 million.
1907 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ($7.6 Million)
This complicated design produced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens was too difficult for the U.S. Mint to make in commercial quantities, which led to the modification of the design. Charles Barber, the Mint’s chief engraver, decided to strike the words “In God We Trust” from the coin, to which Congress “blew a gasket.” Still, the coin went into production and is very rare…
1933 Double Eagle ($7.6 Million)
The 1933 Double Eagle was pressed but never publicly released. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt prohibited anyone from owning gold in an attempt to end the banking crisis at the time. However, twenty coins slipped through the cracks and are now worth far more than their $20 face value.
1784/5 Flowing Hair Silver/Copper Dollar ($10 Million)
It’s very rare than a dollar coin is worth $10 million, but this was the first ever dollar coin issued by the U.S. Federal Government. In 1794 and 1795, this 10% copper, 90% silver dollar, was minted by the U.S. Federal Mint, making it a historical memento. In January 2013, one 1794 dollar was sold for $10 million.