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Best Coins You Can Own

George A. Pipes All-Time Favorite Coins

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

Author: Q. David Bowers / Friday, March 06, 2020 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers

The November 1929 issue of The Numismatist began with an article,   “Which Are the Ten Best Coins?” a paper by George A. Pipes. His listing, which he based upon the importance of the coin in the development of coinage, historical or literary associations, an intrinsic beauty in design and workmanship, included the following: 


1. Stater of Lydia, Asia Minor. “This is the first coinage of the world.” 

2. Decadrachm of Syracuse. “This large silver coin is considered by competent authorities to be the most beautiful in the world.” 

3. Denarius of Marcus Brutus, 44 B.C. This piece referred to the assassination of Julius Caesar. 

4. Shekel of Simon Maccabaeus, 139 B.C. This issue was closely associated with the Bible and early Jewish history. 

5. Tetradrachm of Antioch, bearing the portraits of Antony and Cleopatra, 43-41 B.C. 

6. Testoon of Florence, about A.D. 1535, bearing the head of Alexander de Medici, afterward Pope Clement VII. 

7. Sovereign of Queen Elizabeth, 1558-1603. “This coin is interesting because of its design, and particularly on account of the personality of Queen Elizabeth and the prominent place she occupies in history and in literature.” 

8. Petition crown of Charles II, 1662, by Simon. 

9. Ducat of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, 1492, a piece bearing relationship to Columbus. 

10. 1652 Pine Tree shilling. “This coin, more than any other, symbolizes American tradition.”

It would be interesting to see what a similar list, if compiled today, would contain. The 1929 list was by a scholar the likes of which would be hard to find today. At least in a popular sense—such as articles in Coin World, The Numismatist, and elsewhere—most of the above would be unfamiliar to modern readers. My guess is that probably not one in a thousand readers of this present comment could tell something about each coin.

What do you think?