Geek Trivia

The Most Expensive Rare Coin Ever Sold Was?

A U.S. Dollar Coin
An Early Roman Coin
An English Pence Piece
A Spanish Silver Dollar
The Term "Cliffhanger", To Refer To A Suspenseful But Unresolved Ending Originated With?

Answer: A U.S. Dollar Coin

Over the years, there have been quite a few U.S. dollar coins ranging from well-received to scorned and, in the case of the specimen we’re discussing today—the fabled “Flowing Hair” dollar—coveted. The Flowing Hair dollar was the first dollar coin issued by the United States federal government way back in 1794. Minted only that year and the following, it was replaced in the fall of 1795 with the Draped Bust dollar. The coin’s size and weight were heavily based on the Spanish dollar, which had been widely used as a stable and readily available currency in the Americas.

The coin was called such because of the depiction on the obverse, or “heads”, side of the coin showing Lady Liberty with flowing hair, as seen in the photo here. Numismatic historian Jack Collins estimated, in the early 1990s, that there were between 120 and 130 surviving examples of the coin. Many of the surviving examples are badly damaged or had previous repair attempts that devalued the coins.

In 2013, a particularly well-preserved example of a Flowing Hair dollar graded “Specimen-66” (which is a remarkably high grade for a 200+ year old coin) by the Professional Coin Grading Service, was sold for a record setting price of $10,016,875. To give you a further indication of how valuable the coin is, the record it broke was its own—the same coin had sold for $7,850,000 in 2010. By contrast, the highest sale price of the coin that followed the Flowing Hair dollar, the aforementioned Draped Bust dollar, was $4,140,00 in a 1999 auction.

Image courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History/Wikimedia.