The United States Mint produces some of the most beautiful coins in the world.
From copper cents that have been around since 1793 to silver dollars minted as recently as 2000, these beauties are worth more than their face value.
Here are our top ten favorites!
10 Most Beautiful Us Coins:
Indian Head Half Eagle (1908–1929)
The Indian Head Half Eagle $5 gold coin and the Quarter Eagle $2.50 gold coin, which look almost the same, were created by sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt.
The Half Eagle was nearly identical in size to a nickel, while the Quarter Eagle was equivalent to the size of a dime.
The Indian Head design on the American penny followed a Native American theme and came before the Buffalo Nickel design.
On the obverse, we see a Native American man wearing a headdress. The feathers on the headdress are very detailed.
This image, my friends, is the most lifelike and realistic one ever produced on a coin.
I would say that the Saint-Gaudens double eagle coin is unique among American coins because its design elements are recessed instead of raised.
This protects the intricate design from wear and handling.
Moreover, the exquisite design and the sunken lettering conveyed the feeling that the coin was personally engraved rather than imprinted.
However, the uniqueness of the design caused controversy.
Many individuals in positions of authority opposed the unorthodox design and expressed concerns that the sunken regions could accumulate harmful bacteria and propagate illnesses.
Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle (1908–1933)
The American $20 gold piece boasts one of the most iconic coin designs in American history.
This design was created by the renowned Boston sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens and was first introduced in 1907.
At that time, the coin featured Roman numerals for the date and did not bear the motto “In God We Trust.”
With the change to Arabic numerals and the addition of the motto, the Saint-Gaudens design quickly became one of the most admired American coin designs.
Saint-Gaudens passed away in 1907, and the United States departure from the Gold Standard in 1933 resulted in the coin being withdrawn from circulation.
Many of Saint-Gaudens’ pieces were taken out of circulation and melted down, but fortunately, collectors and others were able to save thousands from oblivion.
This coin commands high prices not only for its composition but also for its design and scarcity.
Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916–1947)
Adolph A. Weinman, the artist, created a stunning design for the half-dollar that was to be produced starting in 1916.
He was born in Germany but emigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old. As a student of Saint-Gaudens, He gained national recognition for his majestic sculpture, Destiny of the Red Man.
He depicted an image of a confident female figure of Liberty in flowing robes, striding across the American landscape before a rising sun for the half-dollar design.
On the reverse side of the coin, you’ll see a majestic eagle ready to take flight.
This design follows the tradition of featuring the image of Liberty on the front and the eagle on the reverse.
Weinman’s design, ladies and gentlemen, brought about a heightened visual interest in the design of a widely-circulated coin.
This was achieved by incorporating a striped pattern on Liberty’s robes and subtle landscape elements.
Since 1986, the US Mint has been selling the American Silver Eagle, which features a powerful design on the obverse and is the official silver bullion coin for investors and collectors.
Indian Head Eagle (1907–1933)
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an Irish-born sculptor, was the designer of both the front and rear of the Indian Head Eagle for the $10 gold piece produced from 1907 to 1933.
So, we have a female figure wearing a male Indian headdress. The word “LIBERTY” is written on the headband, and on the side of the coin, there are 46 stars (48 after New Mexico and Arizona joined in 1912).
President Theodore Roosevelt had asked the Mint to develop more captivating coin designs.
And as it turns out, Saint-Gaudens emerged victorious in the design competition for both the Eagle and Double Eagle coins when Saint-Gaudens passed away due to cancer on August 3, 1907, without seeing his winning designs in circulation.
As per the tradition of that time, the back of the coin featured a portrayal of a bald eagle in a powerful stance, symbolizing strength.
The design was loosely modeled after one Saint-Gaudens created for a medal honoring Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1905.
Standing Liberty Quarter (1916–1930)
In 1916, a design competition was held to replace the Barber design for the dime, quarter, and half dollar.
Adolph A. Weinman emerged as the winner for the dime and half-dollar designs.
The winning design for the quarter was awarded to Hermon MacNeil, a sculptor from Massachusetts.
On the obverse of the original coin, we can see Liberty standing with an olive branch in her right arm and a shield in her left.
She is depicted with a bare breast, considered scandalous at the time.
After 1917, we see that a chainmail shirt covers Liberty’s breast.
Ladies and gentlemen, on the reverse side of the coin, we have one of the most remarkable depictions of an eagle soaring through the sky that you will find on any type of United States currency.
Well, folks, back in 1924, the officials over at the Mint had a bit of a predicament.
You see, the Standing Liberty quarters were being sent back to them with a major issue – the date was completely worn off.
The next year, the Mint changed to recess the date to protect it from wear and tear caused by circulation.
The production of the coin was stopped in 1930 due to the Great Depression, which significantly decreased the demand for more quarters in circulation.
The George Washington Quarter was introduced the following year to commemorate the bicentennial of his birth.
Mercury Dime (1916–1945)
Did you know that the sculptor Adolph A. Weinman emerged victorious in the 1916 competition for the dime and half-dollar designs?
His remarkable American coin designs were in circulation even before World War I and continued to be used until after World War II.
On the obverse side of the coin, we can see Liberty portrayed with a wreath of tight curls.
I must point out that Liberty dons a customary “pileus,” or a Liberty cap, which may draw parallels with Roman Republic denarii.
On the reverse side of the coin, you can see a “fasces.”
This object was typically carried by lictors who accompanied Roman magistrates, symbolizing war and justice.
The fasces, my friends, is juxtaposed with an olive branch, symbolizing peace. It’s quite ironic that the Mercury Dime design was retained during World War II, considering that the fasces, a symbol for the Italian Fascists (and the origin of the word “fascist”), was prominently featured on it.
Buffalo Nickel (1913–1938)
James Earle Fraser, a sculptor from Minnesota, particularly focused on Western and Native American themes.
In 1911, he was selected to create the new five-cent piece design. The Indian and Bison designs he created were given the green light in 1912.
Fraser’s design has become a touchstone in American culture since its elimination from standard circulation coinage.
His nickel design was the centerpiece of David Mamet’s 1975 play “American Buffalo.”
In the 1970s, they had Wooden Nickel Records, an independent record label that produced the first two Styx albums.
They featured the design on their label. Buffalo Nickel is a rock group that has inspired the names of many small businesses across the country, regardless of their industry.
The design was used for a commemorative coin celebrating the Smithsonian Institution in 2001.
In 2006, the Mint began using a slightly modified Fraser design for the American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coin.
It’s a 24-karat bullion coin with a face value of $50.
Indian Head Cent (1859–1909)
The Indian Head Cent was designed by James Barton Longacre, the Chief engraver of the Philadelphia Mint from 1844 to 1869.
The cent was initially composed of 88% copper and 12% nickel, which gave it a light bronze appearance.
So in 1860, we added a shield to the top of the laurel wreath on the reverse of the coin to symbolize the Union.
In 1864, the Mint adjusted the coin’s composition to 95% copper and 5% tin or zinc. This composition was retained until they retired the design in 1909.
During its 50-year lifespan, we produced 1.8 billion Indian Head cents.
Peace Dollar (1921–1935)
Anthony de Francisci designed the Peace Dollar due to a competition seeking a design that would highlight peace right after World War I.
The young sculptor de Francisci won against other designs submitted by Hermon MacNeil, Victor D. Brenner, and Adolph Weinman, who had all previously designed US coins.
On the obverse side of the coin, we can see Liberty wearing a pronged crown.
On the reverse side of the coin, you will see a bald eagle holding an olive branch with the word “Peace” displayed prominently.
From 1921 to 1928, they struck the coins. The Mint also produced another set of silver dollar coins in 1934 and 1935.
This was the final silver United States dollar coin produced for circulation.
Sacagawea Dollar (2000–Present)
You know, the Sacagawea Dollar, also referred to as the golden dollar, has been in production since 2000, but it’s not often seen in circulation.
These coins have a copper core and a manganese brass covering that gives them a golden color. The coin was designed to replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar and was meant to be used in vending machines, mass transit, and other similar purposes.
Its color was different from the Anthony dollar to make it more easily recognizable and acceptable to the public, as the Anthony dollar was often mistaken for a quarter and faced criticism.
On the front of the coin, you’ll see a profile of Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide who helped Lewis and Clark on their journey across North America. She’s depicted with her child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.
The obverse design was created by the sculptor Glenna Goodacre.
The reverse side of the coin, minted between 2000 and 2008, features a flying eagle design quite similar to the reverse side of the Standing Liberty Quarter, which Thomas D. Rogers designed.
Each year, subsequent mintings have featured a distinct design on the reverse side, highlighting the rich history of Native Americans.
Before you go…
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed our list of the most beautiful coins ever minted in the US! There are a wide variety of beautiful coins, and these are some of them! If you have any of these coins in your collection, share them in the comment section!
Check out my next article: “3 Useful Ways On How Do I Know If My Coins Are Valuable?“