Coin Q&A: Answers To 5 Common Coin Questions

us-coins-in-pocket-change-by-Darren-Hester.jpg These are among the most popular questions we receive here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins…


Question #1:
How Do I Clean My Coins?

Don’t! Cleaning your coins will actually reduce their value. Why? Because coin collectors and coin investors prefer coins with their original, natural toning and color.

Cleaning your coins will wash away their natural toning and even strip away some of its metal. As a result, most coin cleanings actually result in damage.

Coins with loose dirt and debris can be safely removed with gently running, clean water. Afterward, you can softly pat the coins dry with a soft towel.

Any coins which have heavy amounts of grime, grease, or residue should be cleaned only by a professional. Refer to a coin dealer for information on where to have your coin cleaned by a local professional or recommended mail-order service.


Question #2:
What Is My Coin Worth?

This is one of the most common questions I come across. The Fun Times Guide has lots of great articles that will help you figure out how much your coin is worth.

Generally, any coins which you still commonly find in circulation that are worn are worth only face value.

Determining how much other coins are worth, though, requires a bit of work. The age of a coin, how much or little wear it has, how many of a certain coin were made, and the metal with which it was made all factor into a coin’s value.

Without seeing your coin in person, it’s impossible to tell you how much your coin is worth.


Question #3:
What Is The Most Valuable U.S. Coin?

At present, the coin with the highest recorded value at auction is the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.

The coin was sold at auction in 2002 for $7.5 million!


Question #4:
Where Can I Buy Coins?

Banks may be the most common way to acquire coins. Most any bank should have a good supply of cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and small-sized dollar coins.

However, if you are seeking older, obsolete coins, then you will have to go visit a coin dealer. Coin dealers sell all kinds of coins. Finding a coin dealer near you is as easy as looking in the phone book or online local directory under “coin dealers,” “coins,” “antiques,” “collectibles,” and/or “hobbies.”

If there aren’t any coin dealers in your area, you can find plenty of reputable coin dealers who sell coins online.


Question #5:
Is My Old Coin Rare?

Most people wonder if the old coin they have is rare.

Truth be told, most of the old coins collectors usually encounter are neither rare nor highly valuable. Most coins the U.S. has made since the late 1800s were struck in high numbers (into the millions and more recently, billions).

There are, however, certain dates struck in the past century which are considered highly scarce and valuable. Among the most famous rare coins from the last 150 years are:

  • 1877 Indian Head penny
  • 1909-S Victor David Brenner penny
  • 1955 Doubled Die penny
  • 1916-D Mercury dime

Each of these are worth around $1,000 and up.

The Fun Times Guide to Coins has many articles which will help you find out if the old coin you have is rare (and valuable).

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Ridge

    I have a 2009 proof penny in its case as part of the Lincoln chronicle set that appears to have been struck on a damaged blank, a full semi-circle across the back that goes behind Lincolns head and the letters on “one cent”. Is this unusual or valuable?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Ridge,

      Given the description, it does sound like a damaged coin in my sight-unseen opinion of the piece.

      You don’t note any doubling of the design, so it doesn’t sound like a case of a multiple strike.

      The U.S. Mint typically accepts returns for damaged or blemished products, but given the fact the Lincoln Chronicle set sold out in literally hours, I doubt they could replace it (but check anyhow — I’m not sure). It’s not particularly unusual to find a coin showing evidence of some type of mint damage. Usually, these types of issues don’t contribute any extra value to a coin.

  • Nancyn89

    I have a 1943-P nickel.  It has absolutly no markings on the capital building the coin is in very good condition. The building on the back of the coin is there but just the outline.  Is this a rare find?

    • Anonymous


      Would you please post a photo of the coin here in the comments forum? I’m not sure if given your description of Monticello if the coin is just really well worn or is weakly struck. Thanks!

  • John Bilinski

    I have a question. Why do some collectors want multiple quantities of the same coin, like 100-lincoln cents, 1929S? Thanks John Bilinski –

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide


      Usually, if you see an offer for lots of multiple coins of the same date,they’re geared toward coin dealers or collector-dealers trying to fill inventory. In some cases though, collectors want multiple quantities of the same date for building multiple date sets or for other personal purposes.

  • Mycoolk1

    Are there any known chaco quarter errors?

  • Sabrina Summarell

    Hello, how are you, my husband recently bought an old house to tear down for lumber. In the house we found a whole bunch of old coins. We do not collect coins and have never done any research on them, until recently. We have several coins we have questions about. We have a 1960 silver Lincoln penny, we’ve had mixed feed back about. Our question is how do we tell if it’s real? And if it is how much is it worth? We also have questions about a 1944 wheat penny, I understand a steel wheat penny from 1944 is worth quite a bit of money. Like I said earlier we have never researched this type of thing, till about 3 no ago. So I have no idea how to tell if this is a steel wheat penny, or if it’s just a regular penny and if it is how much is it worth. There are several more we have questions about, I work full time and have a 3& 4 yr old babies, so I don’t have the time to research this like my husband would like! I’d appreciate any insight about these two coins. I really appreciate your time. I hope I haven’t bothered you, I don’t know if you usually answer these type of questions. If you do and don’t mind, after I hear back I’ll ask you about the rest of the coins. Last question, if they happen to be worth any amount of money, how do you go about selling this sort of thing, where do you go, or who do you contact? Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Thanks again,
    Sabrina and Harold Summarell