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The Rarest and Most Valuable Coins in the World


Double Eagles

David Lebryk, acting director of the Mint, had announced in a news release that the rare coins, which were never put in circulation, had been taken from the Mint “in an unlawful manner” in the mid-1930’s and now were “recovered.”

The coins, which are so rare that their value is almost beyond calculation, are public property, he said. [Emphasis added.]

Their value is almost beyond calculation. Wow. That’s fascinating.

They are made out of gold, which in practical terms has very little value. You can’t eat it, it’s not great for shelter. You could fashion tools out of it, but there are more durable and readily available materials around for tool making. As a society, we have assigned a value to gold, but that is determined by the markets — as I write this, gold is going for $438.90 an ounce — but therefore, the value of the gold is obviously, not beyond calculation.

The impressions on the faces of the coins are not especially aesthetically pleasing, that is, if the same images were printed on paper as art (absent the intrigue and historical allure of the coins) there would likely be a dire shortage of buyers willing to pay a price beyond calculation for the prints.

So taken separately, the material and the artwork don’t have a huge value. Put them together in coin form and you have a market: coin collectors. And from what very little I know about coin collecting, scarcity plays an enormous role in the value of individual coins. How scarce are these babies?

Double Eagles were first minted in 1850 with a face value of $20. The 445,500 coins minted in 1933 were never put into circulation because the nation went off the gold standard. All the coins were ordered melted down, but a handful are believed to have survived…

US coins, made of gold, never circulated, and only a handful survive; throw in a mystery (“…taken from the Mint ‘in an unlawful manner’ in the mid-1930s…”) and you’ve got yourself some wicked valuable coins.

Associated Press: U.S. Mint Confiscates 10 Rare Gold Coins