US coin collecting is one of the most competitive markets globally, which is no surprise given that the coins have some of the most interesting and iconic stories in the coin collecting world. US coins are in extremely high demand, especially in the UK where they rarely make it onto our shores.
As Americans celebrate their independence this week, I have picked out 5 of my favourite US coins to share with you.
The Flowing Hair Dollar
8 of the top 10 most expensive coins ever sold are American, with the Flowing Hair Dollar (1794-5) taking the top spot after it sold for an impressive $10,016,875. It’s thought that only 140 of these remarkable coins exist, so it is near on impossible to find one.
This coin was the first dollar coin ever issued by the United States Federal Government and featured an eagle and the bust of Liberty with flowing hair. It was minted in silver and its size and weight were based on the Spanish dollar, which was traded with regularly in the Americas.
The Morgan Dollar 1878-1921
The Silver Morgan Dollar has forever been associated with cowboys and outlaws. These coins could have been used for gambling by train robbers like Butch Cassidy or Jesse James. It’s even rumoured that cowboys would place them in their canteens to preserve water on long journeys.
The dollar drew its name from its designer “George T Morgan”, who created an effigy of Lady Liberty as a Goddess, and a reverse which included an eagle with outstretched wings. It’s said that less than 1 in 5 of these coins remain today, making them incredibly collectable and difficult to source.
‘No Cents’ Liberty Head Nickel 1883
The first design for the No Cents Nickel failed to include the denomination and instead it included the Roman Numeral ‘V’. As the coins were the same size as a $5 coin, swindlers seized the opportunity to gold plate these coins and pass them off as $5 coins. Within the year the US Mint added the denomination to the coin.
The Roosevelt Dime 1946-64
After the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, the nation’s only four term president, his portrait was subsequently used on Dimes as a memorial.
During his presidency, Roosevelt founded ‘March of the Dimes’, a charity founded in response to polio epidemics. Roosevelt’s image was chosen for the Dime in honour of his work with the charity, and his own battle with polio. This coin was symbolic for a nation in mourning, and many people collected the coin from their change.
The Franklin Half Dollar 1948-1964
This was the first half dollar to feature the portrait of a non-president on American Coinage. The words ‘Liberty, in God we trust’ surround a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, with the Liberty Bell on the reverse. This was initially a controversial coin, and there were public concerns about the initials of the designer ‘JRS’ being a reference to Stalin and communism, as well as the small eagle placed next to the bell.
American coins give us some of the most interesting stories in history, and provide us with some of the most fascinating and collectable coins in the world. It’s no wonder that US coin collecting is becoming increasingly popular.
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A rare 1794 Silver Dollar, thought to be among the first silver dollars ever struck by The US Mint, has set a new world-record by becoming the first ever coin to be sold for over $10 million.
The ‘Flowing Head’ was auctioned at Stack’s Bowers Galleries in New York earlier this year in front of a packed crowd of collectors, investors and dealers. Chairman David Bowers said the fact it was one of the first of its kind ever struck combined with its quality and scarcity helped to push up the price among bidders.
A new world record
The coin was eventually sold to Legend Numismatics for a record $10,016,875 –
the highest price ever paid for any coin – smashing the current record of $7,590,020 paid for a 1933 Double Eagle in 2002. A spokesman for the US-based company which specialises in rare coins said afterwards it had been prepared to bid even higher for such a rare piece of American numismatic history.
One of the finest of its kind
The record-breaking coin, one of the finest known, was part of the Cardinal Collection which includes some of the oldest and rarest American coins. It features a profile of Liberty facing right with stars around the edge representing US states, a design only used in 1794 and briefly in 1795.
Although the 1794 Silver Dollar was the highlight of the auction, the total amount made from the sale of rare coins topped almost $27m.
A selection of America’s most famous and iconic coins is available here.