Did you know some United States dollar coins can be worth millions? Yes! The meager dollar can fetch a fortune depending on its historical significance, condition, rarity and demand among collectors.
The Mint no longer produces circulating dollar coins, which the one-dollar bill note has replaced. This makes dollar coins even more fascinating and lucrative.
But, U.S. dollars are not all the same; most are only worth their face value. This is why it is important to know how to identify the most valuable one-dollar coins.
This article will help you do just that! We’ve sifted through tons of coins and rounded up one dollar coins worth money. If you are lucky enough to find these in your pocket change, you certainly stand to make a fortune.
So, let’s get started!
US $1 One Dollar Coins History
The dollar is our country’s basic unit of currency. While we are more accustomed to paper dollar bills, the dollar was initially in coin form.
The United States Mint struck the first dollar in 1794. The silver coin featured the Statute of Liberty, represented by a woman’s portrait on the obverse and the image of an eagle on the reverse. The obverse and reverse designs keep changing over the years.
In 1971, the Mint ceased producing silver coins and replaced Lady Liberty’s image with that of our 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower. In place of silver, dollar coins comprised a copper core and an outer layer of copper and nickel.
In 1979, the Mint made significant design changes again, placing civil rights leader Susan Brown on the obverse. This was the first time a circulating U.S. coin featured the portrait of a real woman.
Various design changes have been made to the dollar over the years. For example, these coins currently comprise a manganese, copper, zinc and nickel mix.
The Mint comes up with different coin programs, necessitating design changes. For example, the Native American $1 coins celebrating various elements of the Native American culture have been struck since 2009.
Let’s now look at the most valuable one-dollar coin:
Most Valuable One-Dollar Coin Worth Money
The Flowing Hair Silver dollar was the first dollar coin the United States Mint struck. Less than 120 of them are believed to exist today, making this coin rare and extremely unique.
The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar with a silver plug in the middle has drawn the most attention among collectors. This piece is believed to be the first coin struck in the 1794 dollar coin series.
No other Flowing Hair Silver dollar features the strange silver plug, making this one particularly unique. Many of the 1794 silver dollars have noticeable die misalignment and clashing, but none has the plug in the middle.
This piece was auctioned in 2023 and fetched over $10 million.
First discovered in 1972 as part of a private coin collection, there was previously no known record of the Mint ever producing the 1970-S Seated Liberty dollar. But, a few pieces have been discovered over the years. Today, less than 10 of these coins are known to exist.
The 1870 S Seated Liberty silver dollar features a noticeably small S mint mark, representing the San Francisco mint from where it was produced. The awkwardly small mint mark is considered an error, making this one of the most popular one-dollar coins in U.S. coinage history.
This coin can fetch as much as $450,000 in low-grade uncirculated condition and up to $2 million in mint state.
There are several varieties of the 1852 Seated Liberty Dollars. The Original Strike variety is one of the scarcest and most valuable dollar coins, with fewer than 1000 pieces known to exist.
These pieces are distinguishable by the absence of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse. A couple of years later, the Mint produced restrikes of the 1852 Seated Liberty Dollars for collectors, and only 35 of these pieces are believed to exist. Still, the original strike coins fetch a premium compared to the restrikes.
One example of the 1852 Seated Liberty Dollar sold for $92,014 at a Heritage Auction.
The 1803 Draped Bust dollar is one of the most expensive coins. It has several varieties, with the ‘’Small 3’’ variety fetching quite a premium.
You will notice that the number 3 on the date is unusually small compared to similar coins struck using the same die. In particular, the Small 3 variety lacks the extra serif on the upper bar of the 3, which is present in the Large 3 variety.
While this variety of the 1803 Draped Bust dollar will bring in low to medium four figures in circulated condition, its value increases drastically in mint state, with examples selling for as much as $845,000.
Only up to 15 examples of the 1804 Draped Bust Dollar exist today. The Mint supposedly struck an impressive 20,000 silver dollars that year, after which no other silver dollars were struck for several years.
Many 1804 Draped Bust Silver dollars were hoarded as collectors knew these would be the last silver coins for several years.
It is also worth noting that in 1834, the State Department ordered the Mint to strike special mint sets to be issued as gifts to foreign government representatives. These coins were struck with the date 1804
The good part about this is that although rare, most of the dollars from this year can be found in mint state, potentially fetching millions of dollars—one example sold for $10 million in a 2013 auction.
Only about 10 of these 1804 silver dollars are believed to exist. One example, classified as a Class 1, was auctioned in 2021 with a private collector shelling out $7.8 million.
One-dollar coins struck from 1796 come in several varieties. The most well-known are the dollars with a large date, large date and small letters, and small date plus small letters.
The small date plus small letters variety is the most common, but most examples are in poor condition. Examples in good circulated condition or mint state are extremely rare.
The last time a 1796 P Draped Bust Dollar, Small Date, Small Letters came up for auction was in 2003, and this example was graded Extremely Fine with clear signs of wear and tear. It was sold for a record $46,000 at the time.
More recently, in 2020, another example showed up at auction. This one was graded an envious MS65 and was sold for the premium price of $705,000.
The 1795 Silver dollar has a centered and off-center bust variety. Normally, Lady Liberty’s bust portrait is centered in the middle of the coin on the obverse.
But, due to a die misalignment, some coins that were struck that year came out with the portrait positioned too far to the left and away from the center, giving the coin the name “off-center bust.”
An easy way to identify an off-center bust dollar is with Lady Liberty’s hair which almost touches the bottom star on the left. This leaves a notable distance between the bust and the stars on the right.
The Professional Coin Grading Service has identified a few examples of the 1795 Off-Center Bust Silver Dollar in mint state MS66. One such piece sold for $705,000 in a 2020 auction.
The 1803 Proof Draped Bust Restrike is one of the rarest and most valuable dollar coins, with only four known examples. Three are graded Proof (PF)66 and the other PF65.
These coins were actually struck in the 1850s and 1860s, although they were dated 1803 and were meant for advanced and deep-pocketed collectors who had created a demand for the now scarce 1803 proof dollars.
The most expensive example was auctioned in 2013 by Heritage for a record-breaking $851,875. These restrikes can fetch up to $1 million
in higher grades.
The 1893-S Morgan Dollar is aptly described as the “King of the Morgan Dollars Series.” The Mint struck only 100,000 pieces, and it is estimated that about 9000 examples have survived in all grades to date.
The 1893 Morgan Silver Dollars struck in San Francisco are the rarest of all Morgan dollars. These coins are exceptionally scarce in mint state and gem condition, with an estimated 120 pieces known to exist in mint state MS65 and above.
One example graded MS67 is the finest known to date and was sold for $2.1 million in 2021.
The 1976 Eisenhower dollar is a relatively modern coin but is among the rarest and most valuable. While most 1976 Eisenhower dollars spot an S mint mark showing they were produced in San Francisco, some were struck without the mint mark.
In October 1973, the Mint held a design competition for the upcoming 1976 Bicentennial dollar, half dollar and quarter. The new winners for each coin set were allowed to mint trial coins at the Philadelphia Mint before the Mint could officially produce the proof coins. Because these trial coins were struck in Philadelphia, they did not have the S mint mark.
Only a few trial proof coins were struck, but the Mint didn’t destroy them as it had claimed. A handful of 1976 Eisenhower dollar examples without S have shown up with the finest selling for $850,000.
There are several varieties of the 1796 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. The most popular is one that features a small date on the obverse and larger than normal lettering on the reverse.
Upon closer look, you will notice that the 1 in 1796 is much thinner than the regular variety. You will also notice that the top bar of numbers 1 and 7 are more separated than normal.
On the reverse, the lettering in UNITED STATED OF AMERICA appears larger than on regular coins. As a result, the letters are spread out further toward the coin’s rim, while in coins with smaller lettering, the letters are further away from the rim.
This rare error coin is worth a premium even in low-grade circulated condition. An example graded Extremely Fine (XF) can fetch as much as $10,500, while mint state pieces have been auctioned for as much as $110,970.
There are several varieties of 1798 silver one-dollar coins. The most popular is the 1798 dollar with a Small Eagle on the reverse and 13 stars on the obverse.
All other 1798 silver one-dollar coins have 13 stars on the obverse, but the reverse features a Heraldic Eagle instead of the Small Eagle.
According to numismatic experts, less than 1,000 examples of the 1798 Small Eagle, 13 Stars Silver Dollar exist, most of which are graded Very Fine (VF). Extra Fine examples are scarce, and mint state pieces are unknown.
One example graded About Uncirculated (AU) sold for $356,500 at a 2011 Goldenberg auction.
The vast majority of the population has forgotten about one-dollar coins. But, whether you are a newbie or an avid collector, you should definitely pay attention to these coins! As you can see, some old $1 coins have increased tenfold, and the most valuable one-dollar coins can easily fetch millions.