Smithsonian's Gold Tops $548,600,000 "Million Dollar Coin Club"

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In the past 15 years, the number of U.S. rare coins valued at $1 million or more has zoomed from one to 235, according to a group of numismatic market experts. Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) reports that in the past year some members of the "PCGS Million Dollar Coin Club" jumped in value as much as 50 percent.

The unique 1849 Double Eagle now has an estimated value of $20 million, according to the Professional Coin Grading Service Million Dollar Coin Club. (Photo credit: Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.)

"The increasing value of ultra-rare coins shows the strength of the market for truly rare, historic U.S. coins, and is also helped more than a little by the strength of the gold and silver bullion markets and the general weakness of the U.S. dollar."

Some of the world's most valuable rare coins have increased in value by an estimated 25 to 50 percent the past year, according to rare coin market experts who compiled their second annual reference guide of multi-million dollar numismatic treasures: the 2011 Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) Million Dollar Coin Club (http://www.PCGS.com/million-dollar-coin-club/).

There are now 235 historic U.S. coins valued at $1 million or more that are in private collections or museums, and the total combined value of those 235 is now estimated at $548,600,000.

"The increasing value of ultra-rare coins shows the strength of the market for truly rare, historic U.S. coins, and is also helped more than a little by the strength of the gold and silver bullion markets and the general weakness of the U.S. dollar," said David Hall, President of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT) of Santa Ana, California.

The most valuable United States coin listed is the Smithsonian's 1849-dated "Double Eagle" $20 denomination gold piece. This unique coin was struck by the United States Mint in Philadelphia during the early days of the California Gold Rush, and it jumped from an estimated $15 million last year to $20 million now.

"It was only 15 years ago that a coin first broke the million dollar mark at auction. That coin is the finest of only five known 1913 Liberty Head nickels, and in 1996 it sold for $1,485,000. It now is valued at $4,500,000," explained Hall.

The 2011 PCGS Million Dollar Coin Club listing was compiled by Hall and Ron Guth, President of PCGS CoinFacts™, in consultation with four other well-known professional numismatists: Jim Halperin, Co-Chairman of Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas; Kevin Lipton, President of Kevin Lipton Rare Coins, Beverly Hills, California; Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions; and Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics, Lincroft, New Jersey.

"We certainly had a lot of fun putting this list together for the benefit and enjoyment of collectors and dealers," said Hall.

Based on their professional opinions and recent sales, here are the experts' top ten most valuable coins struck by the United States Mint, their grades (state of preservation on a 1 to 70 scale) and their year-ago values if they changed:

1849 $20 Liberty (estimated grade Proof 64) -- $20,000,000 (last year listed at $15,000,000). The first $20 gold piece struck at the United States Mint is part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. It will be exhibited in Chicago in August at the World's Fair of Money (http://www.WorldsFairofMoney.com) sponsored by the American Numismatic Association.

1907 Indian Head $20 Saint-Gaudens gold pattern (estimated grade Proof 69) -- $15,000,000. Now in a private collection, this unique gold pattern was designed by famed sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and combines his $10 Indian Head obverse design with his $20 reverse design.

1877 $50 gold pattern J-1546 (estimated grade Proof 67) -- $15,000,000 ($10,000,000 last year). The famous "Half Union" gold piece is unique and in the Smithsonian.

1877 $50 gold pattern J-1548 (estimated grade Proof 67) -- $15,000,000 ($10,000,000 last year). A variation on the design of the other "Half Union," this coin is also unique and in the Smithsonian.

1907 Double Thick Extremely High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 (two coins, both estimated grade Proof 69) -- $8,500,000 each. Arguably the most beautiful coin ever made, the Double Eagle designed by renowned sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens was struck in several variations including two examples that are smaller in diameter and with double thickness. Both are in the Smithsonian.

1794 Silver Dollar (graded PCGS Specimen 66) -- $7,850,000 ($5,000,000 last year). In a private collection, this is believed by some experts to be the very first silver dollar struck by the United States Mint.

1804 Class I ("Original") Silver Dollar (graded PCGS Proof 68) -- $7,500,000. Privately owned, this is the finest of the 15 known, famous 1804 silver dollars. It was originally given to the Sultan of Muscat in 1836 as a diplomatic gift on behalf of President Andrew Jackson.

1804 Class I ("Original") Silver Dollar (graded PCGS Proof 67) -- $6,500,000. Privately owned, it is part of a set of coins originally given to the King of Siam in 1836 as a diplomatic gift on behalf of President Andrew Jackson.

1822 $5 gold piece (estimated grade Extremely Fine 45) -- $6,000,000. In a private collection, this is one of only three surviving 1922 Half Eagle gold coins out of 17,796 struck. The other two specimens are in the Smithsonian.

High-quality images, experts' narratives, pedigrees of the coins, rarity analysis, condition census and auction price histories for PCGS Million Dollar Coin Club "members" as well as thousands of other U.S. coins can be found online at http://www.PCGSCoinFacts.com. The complete 2011 PCGS Million Dollar Coin Club list is online at http://www.PCGS.com/million-dollar-coin-club/.

Since 1986, PCGS experts have authenticated, graded and certified more than 21 million coins from around the world with a declared value of over $20 billion. For additional information, visit http://www.PCGS.com or call PCGS Customer Service at (800) 447-8848. PCGS is a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

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