Collectors CornerSM: The Collectibles Marketplace

A Service of Certified Asset Exchange

Shopping Cart 0 item ($0.00)

Top 100 Modern Coins

By Jaime Hernandez - February 3, 2023

It’s been 10 years since we had the privilege of working on the list of the Top 100 Modern Coins. Before we updated the list, we made guidelines to keep a consistent perspective while adding or excluding coins from the existing group. Some big questions came up, such as what determines which coins we enshrine or remove from the list?

Here are just some of the thoughts that were considered while compiling the list.

The 1972 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent is one of the most important varieties of the Lincoln Memorial Cent series. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

What Year Modern Coins Started

What should we consider modern? I had long considered coins dating from the 1970s to present as modern, with issues before that being more vintage. However, this opened up a new discussion and our team realized that, to a 10-year-old, coins from the 1980s and ‘90s could be considered vintage. So, this made us also think about older collectors, which the hobby has many of. If chronological relativity factors into the consideration of vintage versus modern, then many of these collectors may consider coins dating back to the 1950s and ‘60s as modern.

So, the team and I further factored in these considerations and we agreed that 1964 was a pivotal year for United States coins, as that is the last year in which the U.S. Mint produced circulating coins containing 90% silver compositions. We also thought about the rare and prototypical 1964 Special Mint Set coins, which are very significant coins; for us to leave them off this list would be very difficult, as they are quite rare and important coins in numismatics. We concluded that the period of 1964 to date would be the timeframe for coins chosen for inclusion on this list.

Significant or Special

Some of the logic behind building the list of Top 100 Modern Coins was that the coins on this rundown had to be significant or special in some way. For example, the first coin on the list was the 1964-D Peace Dollar. This coin is, no doubt, extremely significant, as it was struck during a pivotal time in history and, especially in light of their legal status and mass melting, carry a mystique all their own. After their recall, these coins were not believed to exist. Even today, we still don’t know if even one exists. However, even though we haven’t confirmed a 1964-D Peace Dollar survives, the coin was still struck, and at one point in time, it did exist for certain. So back when we made the original top 100 list a decade ago, we decided to include the coin, mainly to highlight its importance, even though we’ve never seen an authentic 1964-D Peace Dollar.

Another consideration was the coin’s value. Some coins were impactful but weren’t really valuable and are very common. Take the 1970-S Small Date Lincoln Cent. For many years, the coin brought excitement to the hobby, and many collectors were trying to obtain examples of this variety. However, the coin’s buzz dwindled down a bit. The price for a circulated example or pieces in low-end Mint State grades is also nominal – maybe a few dollars. By virtue of that fact, this coin almost didn’t make it into the roundup. Yet, we couldn’t ignore that, for many years, this coin was highly popular among dealers and collectors.

Visual Prominence

Another consideration was the visual prominence of a specific variety or attribution on the coin. For example, some 1972 Doubled Die Lincoln Cents exhibit very obscured doubling. So, many of these varieties we did not include, as the visual appearance of the variety is just too minor. Meanwhile, other varieties have strong and prominent doubling.

Diverse Coin Series

Among our considerations was including coins from different coin series. One of the first drafts of the list had a disproportionately high number of Lincoln Cents. That was mainly because a lot of prominent varieties were produced in the Lincoln Cent series, while other series hardly had any notable coins or varieties. As a result, we allowed more flexibility favoring the inclusion of other series.

An example is the 1979-P Wide Rim Susan B. Anthony Dollar. This coin hails from a very short-lived series that yielded few major varieties or other rarities. I think most collectors would agree that, for years, the 1979-P Wide Rim was a prominent variety that has since waned in collector prominence as other important varieties have more recently come along. For the Susan B. Anthony Dollar series, we took the more lenient approach and included the 1979-P Wide Rim on the list.

The 1979-P Wide Rim Susan B. Anthony Dollar is a notable variety within its short-lived series. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.


The rarity of a coin also played a major role in which coins were included, but only to some extent. Some coins or varieties can be very rare, where there are only one or very few known specimens. An example is the 1972 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent FS-104 variety, which is very scarce – there are about 40 examples graded at PCGS in all grades combined. The coin commands a strong premium of about $1,000 or more in Mint State grades, but the doubling is not very dramatic. So,this coin was considered because of its rarity, but it didn’t make it on the list, as the doubling is not as prominent as the Type 1 doubled die for the date.


Value also played a major role in more than one way when choosing coins for the list. If an issue or variety had a significant premium, then it might be considered for the list. For example, the 1995-W Proof American Silver Eagle received a large boost in ranking because of its huge premium value. There are other coins scarcer than the 1995-W Proof American Silver Eagle, even within the same series. But for many compelling reasons, the 1995-W Proof American Silver Eagle commands a very strong premium, so this coin enjoyed a boost in rankings due to its higher premium value.

The 1995-W Proof American Silver Eagle is a true modern rarity with a mintage of just 30,125 and outstanding collector demand, making it a key date in the popular silver bullion series. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

Metal Composition

The metal composition of a coin was another factor we considered. For example, many gold and platinum coins can be scarce, are popular, and many even command strong premiums. But there's more to it than these factors alone. For example, a one-ounce American Gold Eagle can be worth about $2,000 or higher. Yet, if you factor in the gold metal content alone, it has about $1,600 of value just in the metal composition itself. So, for many gold and platinum coins, the bullion price was considered.

Marketing and Promotions

Some coins are being heavily promoted, including proof American Gold Eagles. Some major dealers are currently offering several-hundred-dollar premiums over the spot price of gold for many proof American Gold Eagles. This marketing affects a coin's overall demand and value, and these were matters that we also considered.

Proof American Gold Eagles have long been popular promotional offerings for mass-market dealers. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.


Mintages played a big role as to which coins were ensconced in the list. Some coins have very low mintages for their series, where they've become scarce or difficult to find. At times, values of the coins didn’t really reflect their low mintages, despite the coins being truly scarce. Take for example, some of the First Spouse gold coins, many of which carry very little numismatic premium over their spot price, but many of their mintages are counted among the lowest in modern U.S. coinage.

Ranking and Ordering

The ranking or listing order of the coins represents no small task. Many, many variables went into consideration. But, overall, sorting involved a combination of different factors, many of which we have already divulged above. Some of the most critical were rarity, value, and survival rate. Another aspect was the coin's historical significance, why or how it was struck, and under what circumstances, etc.

Coins Issued for Circulation or Not

I have to admit, compiling the list has been one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on. With thousands of different modern coins to choose from, how do you drill down to the best 100 coins? And to make it even more challenging, the coins needed to be organized in a way that makes sense, even if it means excluding coins that you really like, while also adding coins that you may not be too excited about.

One thing is for certain: no two individuals will come up with the same exact list, and especially in the same ordering. But we believe most experienced and numismatically knowledgeable individuals would come up with a similar “Top 100 Modern Coins” list, ranking the coins somewhat similarly.

The Year 2023

We hope you enjoyed reading just some of the decision-making factors that played a role in compiling the list of the Top 100 Modern Coins. In the coming months, PCGS will have an updated version of the Top 100 Modern Coins, as it’s been 10 years since we first offered the original list, and many new contenders have arrived on the numismatic scene since then.

An additional change we made to the list for 2023 is that we eliminated some of the coins on top of the original list, including the 1975 Proof No S Dime, 1976 Proof No S Ike Dollar, the 2000-W 22-Karat Gold Sacagawea Dollars and a few others because most of these coins are extremely rare, in private collections, and some coins – like the 1964-D Peace Dollar – may not actually exist or can’t be legally owned. Therefore, most collectors will never be able to own an example of the aforementioned coins. By eliminating some of these almost-impossible-to-obtain coins from the list, this also enables almost all collectors to complete and compete in this very exciting Top 100 Modern Coins set.

The 1964-D Peace Dollar (seen here in a conceptual PCGS image), 1975 No-S Proof Roosevelt Dime, 1976 No-S Eisenhower Dollar, and 2000-W 22-karat Sacagawea Dollar may be rarities deserving a spot in a list of top modern coins, but they are virtually uncollectible to the masses and thus excluded here. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

What a great way to start the year 2023 with this revised list of the most important coins of our time. So many collectors can now own some of the greatest modern coins in numismatics and, at the same time, get to share them and compete with others in the PCGS Set Registry under the “Top 100 Modern Coin Set.” At PCGS, we can’t wait to see collectors build their “Top 100 Modern Coin Sets” in the PCGS Set Registry and display them online for the whole world to see.

Article provided by PCGS at
Related sites
The Grading Standard of the Rare Coin Industry
All information about Every U.S. Coin --
Try it for FREE!
Metal Values for All Coins
The Largest Dealer-to-Dealer Numismatic Trading Network
Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo