Budget Coin Collecting: Top 10 Cheap Collector Coins

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old-us-coins-worth-collecting-by-oceandesetoiles.jpg I am noticing lots of readers are leaving comments and questions about coins they have which they find interesting, and also don’t cost much money to buy.

In fact, many are still found in everyday pocket change!

While I have written a few articles here that discuss low-cost coins, I would like to take a moment and talk about the top 10 coins everyone is talking about.

These are definitely worth collecting. Most aren’t even that hard to find, and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg either!

#1 – Indian Head Pennies

Indian Head cents are simply are way too popular to be overlooked.

Believe it or not, the famous Indian Head penny is now officially over 100 years old. Yet, they still can be had in decent grades for less than $2 to $5.

indian-head-penny-by-mr-smashy.jpg Indian Head pennies were made from 1859 to 1909. Be sure you look for uncleaned pieces that are not corroded (…but don’t clean them!). These are plentiful and make a pleasing, inexpensive addition to any U.S. coin collection.

#2 – Lincoln Wheat Pennies

1909-wheat-penny-by-finn.jpg I think the most common question I have seen here at The Fun Times Guide has to do with the value of wheat pennies.

In fact, the vast majority of wheat pennies cost well less than a dollar to buy in circulated grades.

The wheat penny is becoming more relatively scarce as the years go by. Yet, the wheat penny, which was struck from 1909 to 1958, continues to be one of the most popular, least expensive types of classic American coins.

Wheat pennies have long enjoyed high interest among coin collectors and non-collectors alike.

#3 – Buffalo Nickels

indian-head-buffalo-nickel-by-Richard-Elzey.jpg The iconic Buffalo nickel (also sometimes called the Indian Head nickel) was struck from 1913 to 1938.

It celebrates 2 classically American symbols: the bison and the American Indian.

Buffalo nickels are often considered “romantic” in their own right and are highly popular.

The Buffalo nickel can be had for less than $2 and serves as an historically and socially important piece for any collector of United States coins.

#4 – Mercury Dimes

1942-mercury-dime-by-ekillian.jpg No, the Roman god Mercury is not the figure on the coin, as popularly thought. In fact, the profile on the coin is none other than Liberty wearing a winged cap.

Struck from 1916 to 1945, the Mercury dime (also called the Winged Liberty Head dime) is a favorite among coin collectors.

Many older coin collectors can remember finding Mercury head dimes in their pocket change — right alongside Buffalo nickels and Indian Head pennies.

In many respects, Mercury dimes are considered one of the “very American” coins that celebrates our nation’s ideal of freedom. Mercury dimes can be had for as little as $3 to $5.

#5 – Standing Liberty Quarters

1925-standing-liberty-quarter.jpg Standing Liberty quarters were first minted in 1916 and continued to be minted until 1930.

The Standing Liberty quarter saw a few modifications over its rather brief 14-year run.

In 1916, the quarter was first designed with Miss Liberty’s chest bare. After causing a stir in the public, the U.S. Mint dressed Liberty in mail in 1917 to calm any nerves.

In 1917, there were some light modifications to the reverse (tails side) of the coin, which included moving stars under the flying eagle.

In 1925, the date on the coin was slightly modified so it would not wear away as quickly as on earlier issues.

The Standing Liberty quarters of 1916-1924 are generally more expensive than those of 1925-1930. Prices for Standing Liberty quarters made during 1916-1924 begin at around $20. Standing Liberty quarters made since 1925 can be had for less than $10.

#6 – Walking Liberty Half Dollars

silver-liberty-half-dollar-coins-by-Bob-Fornal.jpg Considered among the most beautiful of coins ever made, the Walking Liberty half dollar is a coin which has been popular among collectors and investors for decades.

The Walking Liberty half dollar was struck from 1916 to 1947. This silver half dollars show Liberty proudly striding toward a rising sun. The reverse depicts a bald eagle.

Walking Liberty half dollars can be bought for less than $10. It’s a coin that most collectors will want to add to their collections… if you appreciate stunning representations of fine art on coins.

#7 – Franklin Half Dollars

franklin-half-dollar-coins-by-mr-smashy.jpg Alright, Benjamin Franklin was NEVER a president. But his many achievements as one of our nation’s Founding Fathers and his hundreds of influential inventions earned him a spot on the front of our nation’s half dollar from 1948 through 1963.

A complete collection of Franklin half dollars can be easily built, with many of the coins costing less than $10 each to purchase.

#8 – Kennedy Half Dollars

1964-kennedy-half-dollar-coin-by-sirqitous.jpg Many people want to add Kennedy half dollars, which have been minted since 1964, to their coin collections.

You can usually find worn Kennedy half dollars at your local bank. But, if you are looking for some nice and uncirculated Kennedy half dollars, you will have to buy them from a coin dealer.

Uncirculated Kennedy half dollars can be bought for less than $2 each. Even the silver issues from the 1960s can be purchased for less than $5 to $7 each.

#9 – Eisenhower Dollars

eisenhower-dollar-coin-by-Mickelodeon.jpg When the silver dollar was reintroduced to the public in 1971, after more than 35 years, President Dwight Eisenhower was honored with an appearance on the front of the coin.

The Eisenhower dollar was produced for only 7 years. Yet, in that short span of time, 32 different Eisenhower dollars were made.

Most Eisenhower dollar coins can be bought in uncirculated or proof version for between $3 to $7 each.

#10 – Susan B. Anthony Dollars

susan-b-anthony-dollar-coin-by-greefus-groinks.jpg Once the U.S. Mint stopped making Eisenhower dollars in 1978, the Susan B. Anthony dollar took over as our nation’s dollar coin in 1979.

Smaller than previous dollar coins, the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was regularly confused with the U.S. quarter and was quickly phased out in 1981.

The need for new dollar coinage brought about the return of the Susan B. Anthony dollar for one year, in 1999.

Susan B. Anthony dollars can be had in uncirculated grades for $2 to $3.Typical proof versions will cost between $5 to $7.

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19 thoughts on “Budget Coin Collecting: Top 10 Cheap Collector Coins”

  1. i would google coin dealers in large cities and go to a few because chances are some will offer you more than others my advice over all though is keep them.

  2. I just found a old Indian head penny today in my change and it’s dated 1870. It’s a little banged up but you can read the date pretty well. Could you give me more information about it please? Thanks.

    • Hello, Irene –

      You made a very lucky find! Not only are Indian Head pennies very VERY difficult to find in circulation these days (really any time since about 1960!), but the 1870 is a relatively scarce date. In “Good ” condition, the value is around $45 to $50. Now, you say it is a little “banged up, so it sounds like it has either corrosion, tons of wear, or perhaps bends, or maybe even a hole. Without seeing your coin, I really couldn’t give a good estimate on value, but I’d be wiling to say your coin is probably still worth at least $10 to $15.

      For more information on Indian Head pennies, you might want to check this out: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/indian_heady_penny_value/

  3. Thank you! Finally someone who actually knows the real value of classic American coinage instead of just another “Franklin halves are worth $100 or more” type blogs.

    • Thank you for your kind comments, Tim! The neat thing about U.S. coin values is that while in most cases coins are worth far less than what may be indicated in many hyped-up media outlets, sometimes they are worth far more, too. I think the main thing I hope readers take away from my posts in regards to values is that all coins are worth something, and that “something” is usually dependent on four things, beyond type alone:

      *Bullion content
      *Date of issue and mintmark (if applicable)
      *Grade and overall condition
      *Any die varieties/errors present (if applicable)

      While I know some readers may sometimes be disappointed about the values of their coins once they look them up here (or after I answer their questions), I hope to, at the very least, provide the most accurate information I can, especially when in most cases I’m providing opinions sight-unseen.

      Happy collecting!

      • Josh I would add and or reiterate value of coin also determined by whether patina correct or if it has been cleaned otherwise your comment spot on.

        • Thanks, Douglas! Yes, definitely surface issues/eye appeal make or break the price. And with artificial toning becoming more and more of an issue these days, off color, too, certainly can bog down values, especially on higher-end coins.

          • Great to have someone with more knowledge than myself but I do have fair share so thank you much. Love to talk in future.

          • Thank you, Douglas! Everybody has something to offer for knowledge and perspective in this hobby, and it’s great when we can all share in a community forum like this.

  4. i have a 22 pocket gap in my collection that i am trying to fill in with cheap coins. what should i use to fill it up?

    • Adam,

      That all depends on the types of coins you like; if you’re a fan of pre-1965 U.S. silver you might find common-date Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters, and Walking Liberty half dollars to fill the void in expensively. Like world coinage? You could fill those same slots with a variety of colorful base-metal world coins for a total of just a few bucks. Stop by your local coin dealer and see what they have and what appeals to you… Surely you’ll have no trouble in rounding out your collection for the price that is right for you!

      Good luck,


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