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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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
In the United States, it’s common for people to refer to our one-cent coin as a penny.
But would you be surprised to learn there actually isn’t any such thing as a United States penny?
It’s true! The coin many Americans frequently call a penny is officially called a one-cent coin or cent.
So where does the term penny come from?
Our mother country, Great Britain, has been making pennies for centuries. Yes, their pennies really are pennies. In fact, penny is the official denomination name for Britain’s small copper coin.
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!