Most Expensive Coins

Top 13 Rare Coins Wanted By Collectors

Top 13 Rare Coins Wanted By Collectors

Headlines often spotlight multi-million dollar coins at major auctions, but many historically important coins are within reach for reliable numismatists who aren’t billionaires. This list showcases 13 rare and famous coins sought after by serious collectors across various sites of US coin collecting, spanning from the Colonial era to the 20th century.

While we typically focus on coins reaching the $1 million mark, these pieces still command staggering costs. Excluding “impossible dreams” like the 1933 Double Eagle, here are 13 rare coins wanted by collectors.

List of Top 13 Rare Coins Wanted By Collectors

1. 1856 Flying Eagle Cent

The 1856 Flying Eagle Cent, with an auction record of $172,500, marks an American numismatic milestone as the first “small” cent. Although technically a pattern coin, its widespread distribution blurs the line between pattern and circulation issues for some collectors.

This coin is credited with sparking public interest in American coin collecting, as people began to preserve large cents once they learned of their discontinuation. Estimates of the 1856 Flying Eagle mintage range from 1,500 to 2,150 coins, with approximately 800 surviving today. CDN Greysheet values range from $8,600 in Very Good VG8 to $120,000 in Mint State MS66.

2. 1871-CC Seated Liberty Dime

The 1871-CC Seated Liberty Dime, with an auction record of $270,250, is highly sought after in Carson City coin-collecting circles. As the first year of dimes minted in Nevada, only 20,100 were produced, quickly dispersing into the Southwest’s cash-strapped economy.

Few were preserved, resulting in less than 150 surviving today. Most show signs of extensive circulation, making competition fierce for the rare Mint State examples at auction. CDN Greysheet values range from $2,060 in AG3 to $300,000 in MS65.

3. 1893-S Morgan Dollar

The 1893-S Morgan Silver Dollar, with an auction record of $2,086,875, is the key date among circulation strike Morgans. With a minuscule mintage of 100,000 and the Western US’s preference for “hard money,” only around one in ten survive today, mostly in heavily worn condition. Mint State examples are exceptionally rare, making them the scarcest in Morgan dollar history after the proof-only 1895.

Collectors fortunate enough to acquire one in any condition should consider themselves lucky. CDN Greysheet prices range from $2,250 in AG3 to $1,020,000 in MS66, with the sole MS67 specimen selling for $2 million in 2021, having previously fetched $546,250 a decade earlier.

4. 1895 Proof Morgan Dollar

The 1895-O Morgan Dollar Proof, dubbed the “King of Morgan Dollars,” holds an auction record of $150,000. Despite records showing a mere 12,000 minted in 1895, none have been discovered, leaving collectors with only the 880 proof versions struck that year. The absence of the business strike coins sparks various theories, from inventory adjustments to melting under the Pittman Act of 1918.

Although over half of the 880 mintage survives, the 1895-proof Morgan still attracts considerable attention at auctions. CDN Greysheet values range from $31,200 in G6 to $168,000 in MS68.

5. 1901-S Barber Quarter

The 1901-S Barber Quarter, boasting an auction record of $550,000, ranks among the rarest non-error coins in US numismatics, with a mere 72,644 minted. Most surviving examples are heavily worn, with only around 2,000 known to exist today.

The majority graded by NGC and PCGS reflect extremely low grades, highlighting the scarcity of unworn specimens. Finding any example with discernible detail is considered fortunate for collectors. CDN Greysheet values range from $3,500 in AG3 to $450,000 in MS68.

6. 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent

The 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent is a standout in American numismatics, with auction records reaching up to $117,500 for Red Brown (RD) specimens. Introduced to commemorate Lincoln’s birth centennial, it stirred controversy due to designer Victor David Brenner’s inclusion of his initials.

Despite the Mint’s decision to remove Brenner’s initials from subsequent production, the original 1909-S VDB coins are highly sought after. With just 484,000 minted, surviving examples are scarce, estimated at less than 60,000. Prices range from $715 in Good G4 to $13,700 in Mint State MS66 for Red (RD) specimens according to CDN Greysheet.

7. 1916 Type 1 Standing Liberty Quarter

The 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter, with an auction record of $48,300, stands as a significant rarity in 20th-century US numismatics. Due to a low mintage and a surprise release, only 52,000 were struck, and they weren’t distributed until the following January, mixed in with 1917-dated coins.

This lack of a formal announcement initially led the public to believe that the 1917s were the first year of issue. The initial Type 1 design, featuring Liberty with an exposed right breast, caused controversy, prompting the Mint to modify the dies to depict Liberty with a chainmail shirt. This design change, combined with the issue of details quickly wearing away, makes finding high-grade 1916 quarters challenging. CDN Greysheet prices range from $3,120 in AG3 to $37,200 in MS66.

8. 1916-D Mercury Dime

The 1916-D Mercury Dime, with auction records reaching $29,000 and $207,000 for Full Bands, is a pivotal date in the series due to its status as a first-year issue and a remarkably low mintage of 264,000 coins. While Philadelphia and San Francisco struck over 22 million and 10 million 1916 Mercury dimes, respectively, the survival rate of the 1916-D is notably lower.

Approximately 10,000 are estimated to remain, often heavily worn with most grading VF or lower. Prices for appealing examples reflect strong demand among serious collectors, particularly for the even rarer Full Bands variety. CDN Greysheet values range from $663 for Almost Good AG2 to $30,000 for MS65, while Full Bands 1916-D Mercury dimes are priced at $12,000 for Almost Uncirculated AU55 to $48,000 in MS65.

9. 1919-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar

The 1919-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar, with an auction record of $270,250, is renowned as the conditional rarity of the series. Despite a mintage exceeding 1.1 million, most coins entered circulation, resulting in a low average grade of VF35 for survivors. Weak strikes, particularly in the center, are common, making Mint State examples exceptionally scarce.

It’s rare to see a Gem uncirculated 1919-D Walking Liberty half appear at auction, sometimes taking years between sightings. CDN Greysheet worths vary from $20 in AG3 to $144,000 in MS65, with only one known in MS66.

10. 1921 High Relief Peace Dollar

The 1921 High Relief Peace Silver Dollar, with an auction record of $132,000, holds significant historical importance. Despite production starting late in the year, over 1 million were struck in Philadelphia.

Like other new coin designs at the time, the initial Peace dollar featured very high relief, resulting in a shortage of silver in the blanks to fill the design’s highest points. Consequently, fully struck Mint State coins fetch a premium. CDN Greysheet values range from $130 for AG3 to $115,200 for MS67 specimens.

11. 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo Nickel

The 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo Nickel, famous among the public, boasts an auction record of $99,875. Over-enthusiastic polishing at the Denver Mint resulted in the removal of the right front leg of the bison on a damaged reverse die. Due to its fame, counterfeit and altered versions are common.

Authentic ones can be identified by the presence of the missing leg’s hoof, a “moth-eaten” appearance on the right rear leg, and a distinctive damaged streak under the buffalo. Despite robust demand, prices range from $364 in Almost Good AG3 to $39,000 in MS66 according to CDN Greysheet.

12. 1943 Lincoln Cent on Bronze Planchet

The 1943 Lincoln Cent on Bronze Planchet is among the most famous error coins in US numismatics, fetching a staggering auction record of $372,000. Wartime copper shortages led the US Mint to use zinc-coated steel blanks for one-cent coins in 1943. However, around 25 were mistakenly struck on bronze planchets leftover from 1942.

Current estimates suggest 15 to 20 were struck in Philadelphia and five in San Francisco, with only one known from Denver. Public interest soared, fueled by newspaper reports, including the (false) claim that Henry Ford would gift a car for a 1943 bronze cent. Due to their extreme rarity, CDN Greysheet lacks price data, but other sources cite six-figure values.

13. 1871-CC Seated Liberty Quarter

The 1871-CC Seated Liberty Quarter, with an auction record of $352,500, stands as one of the Carson City Mint’s rarest productions. With only 10,890 minted, these quarters were quickly absorbed into the regional economy, making even worn or damaged examples highly valuable today. It’s estimated that fewer than 75 survive in any condition. CDN Greysheet values range from $5,940 in AG3 to $480,000 in MS65.

Also Read – Top 10 Most Valuable Dimes


Collection of rare coins is an enjoyable hobby, such as gathering and sorting of rare coins. However, it’s important to determine that profiting from collectibles can result in tax burdens. Before transitioning your coin collection hobby into a business or side venture, carefully assess the taxes you’ll owe on your returns. It’s worth noting that the collectibles tax rate, at 28 percent, can overreach rates utilized for stocks and other financial investments.


1. How do we find out what my coin is worth?

To find your coin’s worth, you compare it on online auction websites which will help you find coin worth.

2. How to sell rare and valuable coins?

The final selling price is open to change, and false coins should be avoided. Think about eBay or auctions while selling. On eBay, set the lowest price you can, but watch out for customers who have not paid. Limiting bids is what eBay suggests for valuable items. For information on auctions, you can also get in touch with a member of the British Numismatic Trade Association, although there could be a fee to pay.

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