The market for high-grade, rare United States coins soared in 2021. A record 22 U.S. coins sold at auction for $1 million or more and hundreds of other historic coins and banknotes priced from $1,000 and up set new records, according to the Professional Numismatists Guild. The PNG is a nonprofit organization composed of many of the country’s top rare coin and paper money dealers.
Based on responses to a year-end PNG questionnaire, the aggregate prices realized for all U.S. rare coins sold at major public auctions in 2021 totaled more than $551 million, compared to nearly $369 million in 2020. Public auctions of U.S. banknotes in 2021 totaled more than $50.5 compared to $50.6 million in 2020, bringing the combined aggregate auction sales of rare U.S. coins and paper money in 2021 to nearly $602 million.
“Spectacular prices were realized for superb quality, historic, rare coins and banknotes as the numismatic market soared online and as collectors and dealers began to return to in-person shows and conventions across the country,” said PNG President Richard Weaver.
The most valuable rare coin sold in 2021 was a 1933 Double Eagle (U.S. $20 denomination gold coin) owned by shoe designer Stuart Weitzman. It brought $18.9 million at a Sotheby’s auction, setting a record price for any rare coin.
Heritage Auctions reported the largest dollar total of U.S. coins and banknotes sold at auction, $295.9 million, followed by GreatCollections Coin Auctions with $141 million, and Stack’s Bowers Galleries with $92.3 million in auctions of U.S. coins and banknotes.
“In addition to the 22 U.S. coins that sold for $1 million each or more at auction, about a dozen others reportedly changed hands in private transactions. The previous record year for million-dollar U.S. coin sales was 17 in 2015,” said Weaver. “Also, at least ten rare coins from other countries were sold for $1 million or more by U.S.-based auction houses in 2021.”
Participating auction firms were Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Bonhams, Early Cents Auctions, Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers, GreatCollections Coin Auctions, Heritage Auctions, David Lawrence Rare Coins, Legend Rare Coin Auctions, Scotsman Coin & Jewelry, Sotheby’s, and Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
Professional Numismatists Guild members must adhere to a strict code of ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise.
In our record section you can find two auctions of 2021 with particularly numerous record results.
And more impressive results in our section “The most expensive coins”.
For further information on the Professional Numismatists Guild, go to the PNG website.