2015 saw more rare U.S. coins reach $1 million at auction than any other year. A total of 17 U.S. coins brought in a million dollars or more last year, soundly improving upon the previous record of 12 set in 2014. The highest price paid for a U.S. coin in 2015 was $4,933,750, which earned one lucky bidder the Lord St. Oswald 1794 Flowing Hair dollar pictured above.
A press release from the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) notes that most experts estimate the U.S. rare coin market brought in between $4.5 billion and $5 billion in 2015, with some putting the total even higher. PNG President Dana Samuelson points out that this total “includes auctions and private transactions made at coin shows, by mail order, online, and at coin stores, but does not include numismatic bullion items or the modern coins sold directly by the United States Mint.”
Sales for certain common coins were less robust. “We saw continuing high demand for so-called ‘trophy coins’ from several important collections that were sold at auctions in 2015,” Samuelson said. “As gold and silver prices dropped during the year and significant money was being spent on prized, big ticket numismatic rarities, there was weakness in the market for ‘average’ grade, commonly available coins. However, prices remained strong for U.S. rare coins that combined historical significance, rarity and superb condition.”
The chart below lists each coin that sold for a million dollars or more last year. The prices are the actual prices paid by bidders, meaning buyer’s premiums have already been factored in, where applicable.
U.S. Coins Realizing At Least $1 Million at Auction in 2015
|Coin||Price||Grading Co./Grade||Auction House|
|1794 Flowing Hair design silver dollar||$4,933,750||PCGS / MS 66+||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
|1795 Capped Bust design Eagle||$2,585,000||PCGS / MS 66+||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
|1792 Birch design copper cent||$2,585,000||NGC, CAC / MS 65||Heritage Auctions|
|1793 Chain design copper cent||$2,350,000||PCGS, CAC / MS 66||Heritage Auctions|
|1808 Capped Bust design Quarter Eagle||$2,350,000||PCGS / MS 65||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
|1792 experimental (pattern) quarter-dollar struck in copper||$2,232,500||NGC, CAC / MS 63||Heritage Auctions|
|1907 Ultra High Relief||$2,115,000||PCGS, NGC / Proof 68||Heritage Auctions|
|1880 Coiled Hair design Stella||$1,821,250||NGC, CAC / PR 67||Heritage Auctions|
|1796 Draped Bust design silver quarter dollar||$1,527,500||PCGS / MS 66||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
|1797 Draped Bust design silver half dolla||$1,527,500||PCGS / MS 66||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
|1776 Continental silver dollar “CURENCY”||$1,527,500||NGC / EF 40||Heritage Auctions|
|1776 Continental silver dollar “CURRENCY” and EG FECIT design||$1,527,500||NGC / MS 62||Heritage Auctions|
|1792 Birch copper cent “TO BE ESTEEMED BE USEFUL” lettered edge||$1,175,000||PCGS / AU 58||Stack’s Bowers|
|1798 Capped Bust Right, small eagle design Half Eagle||$1,175,000||PCGS / AU 55||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
|1880 Coiled Hair design gold Stella||$1,116,250||PCGS,CAC / PR 65||Heritage Auctions|
|1792 copper pattern disme||$1,057,500||NGC, CAC / MS 64||Heritage Auctions|
|1795 Capped Bust Right design gold Eagle||$1,057,500||PCGS / MS 63+||Stack’s Bowers, Sotheby’s|
PNG puts total prices paid for U.S. coins at major public auctions in 2015 at $439,623,237, down from $536 million in 2014, but higher than 2013’s total of $393. For more information on the Professional Numismatists Guild, please visit its Web site.