The value of a collectable coin is based on a number of major factors. The most important of these are rarity and condition, but demand also plays a major factor. The more demand there is for a rare coin, the greater the prices it can command at auction. The most valuable coins can be worth millions of pounds.
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1794 Flowing Hair dollar
The 1794 Flowing Hair dollar coin is the most expensive coin ever purchased. In 2010, a 1794 Flowing Hair dollar was sold to the Cardinal Collection Education Foundation for £5.1 million pounds. The Flowing Hair dollar was the first federal dollar coin. Issued in 1794 and 1795, it was struck from silver with a small amount of copper. The obverse shows a bust of Liberty with long hair, while the reverse shows an eagle surrounded by a wreath.
Anglo-Saxon Gold Mancus
Finds of historical coins can be as valuable as all but the rarest collectibles. In 2006, the British Museum acquired an early-9th-century gold coin for £357,832. The coin, minted in the name of King Coenwulf of Mercia, was discovered in Bedfordshire in 2001 by a metal detector enthusiast out walking with his dog. It is one of only a handful of Anglo-Saxon gold coins. Silver coins, although still rare, are much more common.
1933 Double Eagle
The rarity of a coin is sometimes based on its age. In other cases, a coin can be rare simply because of a quirk of history. This is the case with the 1933 £13 gold double eagle. This coin was released only shortly before the U.S. discontinued its federal gold standard. As a result, the coin was never circulated and most were destroyed. The surviving examples are therefore extremely rare. A 1933 double eagle was sold in 2002 for £4.9 million.
1943 Copper-alloy Penny
Some coins gain extra value because of mistakes or imperfections in their minting. One of the most famous of these is the 1943 copper-alloy penny. During the Second World War, U.S. pennies were struck in steel as a result of copper shortages. However, a small number of 1943 pennies were accidentally struck using leftover copper-alloy coin blanks. A 1943 copper cent sold for £1.1 million in 2010. Because of this coin's high value, it is often counterfeited.
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- CNN; Auction Brings £4.9 Million for "Double Eagle"; Beth Nissen; July 2002
- "Orange County Register"; Rare 1794 Silver Dollar Fetches Record £5.1 Million; Deepa Bharath; May 2010
- "Daily Telegraph"; Anglo-Saxon Gold Coin Leaves British Museum Out of Pocket; Nigel Reynolds; February 2006
- Time.com: The Most Expensive Penny