Which Presidential dollar coins are rare? The U.S. Mint has been honoring each former U.S. president by depicting them on golden-colored $1 coins since 2007. But while these presidential dollar coins are intended for everyday use, some have become unexpectedly rare and valuable to collectors and investors.
If you have a stash of dollar coins featuring American presidents, it’s worth taking a closer look to see if you are holding onto any scarce and valuable issues.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The most valuable presidential dollar coins are the 2007 George Washington coins without edge lettering, the 2012 Chester A. Arthur coins, and low mintage issues for Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and James Garfield.
Background on Presidential Dollar Coins
When Presidential Dollars Were First Issued
The Presidential $1 Coin Program was first introduced in 2007 to honor past US presidents. As authorized by the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, it mandated that the US Mint issue four new $1 coins per year
The program kicked off in 2007 with presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. New designs featuring another four presidents were issued each year after that. Interesting little tidbits about each president were also engraved on the coin’s edge.
Why Certain Issues Became Rare
While millions of these dollar coins were produced, some issues became instant rarities because people tended to hoard them. Below are two key reasons why:
- Low Mintage – The 2012 Chester Arthur coin had the lowest mintage figures at just over 5 million. By contrast, most other presidential dollar issues had mintages in the 30-50 million range.
- Errors/Anomalies – Some issues had significant errors. For example, the 2007 Washington coin with missing edge lettering is worth around $2,500 in uncirculated condition.
Another factor that led to increased scarcity was diminished public demand throughout the series. By 2011, as America’s preference for dollar bills prevailed, the U.S. Mint scaled back production dramatically.
Still, this intriguing series makes for a fun collection and an insightful walk through American history.
Most Valuable Presidential Dollar Coins
2007 George Washington Dollars Without Edge Lettering
The 2007 George Washington presidential dollars are considered quite valuable if they lack the edge lettering. This was an error made by the U.S. Mint during production. Estimates indicate that around 50,000 to 100,000 of these coins entered circulation before the mistake was caught.
Today, a George Washington dollar without edge lettering can sell for $2,000 or more if certified in mint condition.
2012 Chester A. Arthur Dollars
The 2012 Chester A. Arthur dollar is one of the rarest modern presidential coins. The U.S. Mint set out to only produce 6 million for circulation, making it a relatively low number to start with. Additionally, many 2012 dollars were melted down due to low public demand.
As a result, high-grade Chester Arthur dollars are in short supply. Uncirculated examples can easily retail for over $100.
Tips for Finding Scarce Presidential Dollars
Check Edge Lettering on 2007 Washington
The first Presidential dollars released in 2007 featuring George Washington with a minting error is by far the rarest in the series. A small number of these coins were minted with edge lettering errors reading “In God We Rust” instead of “In God We Trust”.
Only around 50,000-100,000 copies with this error made it past the mint into circulation before the problem was caught. Carefully inspecting the edge lettering can reveal one of these scarce Washington dollars worth over $200 in uncirculated condition.
Look Out for Anomalous Mintage Figures
While most Presidential dollar coins saw mintages in the 50-100 million range, a few issues stand out with much lower production numbers. The 2012 Chester Arthur and 2013 William McKinley dollars were minted in the 10 – 12 million range as demand for new coins slacked off towards the end of the series.
These lower mintage Presidential coins trade for around $15-20 in uncirculated condition versus just face value for common dates.
Additionally, special proof versions made exclusively for collectors in limited numbers can also command significant premiums. The rarest is the 2012-S Chester Arthur proof with a tiny 5,882 mintage, valued around $350-400 in perfect proof-70 grade.
Inspect Condition Carefully
Condition is always important when determining collectability and value. While Presidential dollars experienced heavy circulation due to high initial demand, gem uncirculated examples grading MS-67 or higher can sell for anywhere from 2-10 times their base value.
Proof coins with perfect mirrored surfaces ranging from PR-69 to the ultra-rare PR-70 grade can bring 10-30 times premiums over face value. Be sure to carefully inspect the condition, and watch for impairments like bag marks, scratches, spots, etc.
This is especially critical for the delicate proof coins only sold in special collector sets.
Selling and Collecting Rare Presidential Dollars
Certified Coins Command Premium Prices
Presidential dollars that have been professionally graded and certified tend to sell for significantly higher prices than raw uncertified coins. Services like PCGS and NGC will assign a numeric grade from 1 to 70 assessing the coin’s condition and will encapsulate the coin to preserve its quality.
The certification provides credibility and liquidity for collectors.
For example, a common uncertified presidential dollar in average circulated condition might sell for $2 to $3. However, the same coin certified in pristine MS-67 condition could command over $50. There is a substantial premium for certified coins verified to be rare high-grade specimens.
Certification papers confirm authenticity which gives buyers confidence in the quality and value.
Forming a Complete Set
Many collectors strive to assemble a full set of presidential dollars from 2007 to 2016, including coins portraying Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and all other presidents at the time. Sets often come with certificates of authenticity or appraisals.
The scarcest issues like the 2012-P Chester Arthur coin have mintages under 3 million compared to over 300 million for common dates. Trying to find some of the lowest mintage coins leads to exciting treasure hunts visiting coin shops or online auctions.
There’s a sense of achievement in completing the set over time, especially if acquiring nice condition raw or certified coins.
Long Term Outlook
In the mid-2000s, expectations were high that the presidential dollar series would see significant widespread circulation and collection similar to the very successful 50 State Quarters program. However, by 2011 it was clear the new dollar coins were not being actively spent and were mostly sitting in bank vaults.
So the U.S. Mint scaled back production.
Now with distribution essentially halted years ago, the remaining limited quantities sitting in inventory will likely enter circulation at a very slow pace over the next decade or longer. This restricted availability over time could lead to better long-term pricing potential for rarer dates and coins in top condition.
Series enthusiasts speculate about possible spikes in value at some point down the road.
Which Presidential Dollar Coins Are Rare – Conclusion
While most normal-date presidential dollars only carry a modest premium over face value, a few issues stand out as surprisingly rare and valuable. By knowing which presidents and years to look for and checking details like edge lettering and mintage, you can identify scarce dollars worth well above $1.
Cherrypicking rolls and bags of dollar coins remain a fun treasure hunt that can occasionally yield some real numismatic gems.