One of the most valuable coins to ever cross the auction block stole headlines last week. The rarity? An 1804 Plain 4 Draped Bust $10 gold coin. The finest of just three known, this particular specimen of 1804 Plain 4 Draped Bust Eagle was graded MS65+DCAM by Professional Coin Grading Service. When this numismatic treasure traipsed across the Heritage Auctions floor on January 20, 2021, it commanded an outstanding $5,280,000 and for the moment became the third-most valuable coin to ever trade hands in a public transaction.
The 1804 Draped Bust $10 gold has a tremendous story and is connected to the 1804 Draped Bust dollar, which is famously known as "The King of American Coins." The 1804 eagle was struck for inclusion in the special proof sets that also incorporated the 1804 dollar, both pieces belonging to 11-coin proof sets made circa 1834 and presented as diplomatic gifts to foreign heads of state.
While the 1804 Draped Bust dollar is perhaps the most famous of all rare coins, the 1804 Plain 4 Draped Bust gold eagle is far rarer, with three known specimens versus the 15 specimens accounted for the 1804 dollar. And the record-setting price for the 1804 Plain 4 Draped Bust $10 bears that fact out, with the gold coin scoring $5.28 million at auction versus the finest-known 1804 Draped Bust dollar taking an all-time record for the issue of "only" $4.14 million.
*Image is courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com.