Top 5 Old Coins Worth Money That You Can Find In Pocket Change

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I’m always on the prowl for old coins in my pocket change.

Since I started looking for them in my change from cash transactions, vending machines, and even take-a-penny-leave-a-penny jars, I’ve been rewarded with many interesting finds.

Of course, not every old coin I find is worth a lot of money, but it’s still neat to pluck vintage coins from circulation.

Here’s a rundown of 5 types of old coins worth money that you can still find in spare change if you look hard enough …and are just a teensy bit lucky!

These aren’t necessarily very valuable coins, but they’re definitely worth keeping because they’re worth more than face value.

 

#1 – Old Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Lincoln wheat pennies, which were made from 1909 through 1958, can still be found in circulation, though they are becoming scarcer and scarcer in pocket change with each passing day.

Among the wheaties I’ve found most commonly are the 1944 penny, 1945 penny, and 1957 penny. Your best bet in finding these old wheat pennies is to check rolls of pennies.

Common wheat pennies like the ones I mentioned above are worth about 3 to 10 cents each.

Lincoln wheat cent made before 1934 are generally the scarcest. The 7 rare wheat pennies most people search for include:

  • 1909-S ($100 and up)
  • 1909-S VDB ($750 and up)
  • 1914-D ($200 and up)
  • 1922 plain cent ($650 and up)
  • 1931-S ($100 and up)
  • 1943 bronze ($100,000 and up)
  • 1955 doubled die ($1,000 and up)

There are several other semi-key pennies that aren’t as rare as the 7 listed above, but are still worth much more than face value.

Here’s a list of 43 valuable pennies worth holding onto.

 

#2 – Pre-1982 Lincoln Memorial Copper Pennies

What makes these older Lincoln Memorial pennies worthy of keeping?

All regular-issue pennies made before 1982, except for 1943 steel penny, were made from a primarily copper composition.

Copper is a valuable metal and that means pre-1982 pennies are worth slightly more than face value. In fact, all 1959 to 1981 pennies are worth at least 3 cents, even the worn ones.

Most Lincoln pennies made since 1982 are made from zinc.

The single problem with keeping old Lincoln Memorial pennies is that you can’t legally melt them down for their copper value.

But it’s still good to know those old pennies are worth a bit more than face value anyway, which is why I look for them in loose change and keep any that I find.

 

#3 – Buffalo Nickels

Yes, it’s still possible to find Buffalo nickels in spare change, though they are now extremely rare in circulation. In fact, the last time it was relatively easy to find Buffalo nickels with only a bit of dedicated searching was in the early 1980s.

However, I found a Buffalo nickel in my change just a few years ago.

While it was a dateless Buffalo nickel, it was still a worthy find, given how scarcely they appear now. By one estimate, Buffalo nickels turn up in circulation once every 25,000 nickels.

Dateless Buffalo nickels — the kind you’ll most likely find in pocket change — are worth around 50 cents to $1 each.

Any Buffalo nickels with dates are worth a minimum of $1 to $2.

 

#4 – Old Jefferson Nickels

Jefferson nickels have been made since 1938. While it may be hard for some individuals to immediately tell an old Jefferson nickel from a newer one, the color is usually an indicator.

Old Jefferson nickels are usually a much darker shade of gray than the newer ones.

Wartime nickels, which were made from 1942 through 1945, contain silver. These silver “nickels” are worth about $1.50 and up and can be found in circulation. (I know because I’ve found them.)

You can readily identify a Wartime nickel due to the large “P,” “D,” or “S” mintmark above the dome of Monticello on the reverse.

All Jefferson nickels made in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s are increasingly scarce in circulation.

Nickels made before 1960 are worth an average of 10 to 50 cents each. The 1939-D and 1939-S are worth about $5 to $10 each, and the 1950-D sells for almost $20.

Here’s a list of the most valuable old nickels worth holding onto.

 

#5 – Silver Coins

Along with the silver wartime nickels mentioned above, there are other types of silver coins you can still find in circulation (as I can confirm through personal experience). The most common among these are the silver Roosevelt dimes and silver Washington quarters.

Silver Roosevelt dimes (1964 or earlier) are worth around $2 to $3 each while silver Washington quarters (from 1932 to 1964) have a value of $4 to $5 each.

40% silver Kennedy half dollars (from 1965 to 1970) and 90% silver Kennedy halves (from 1964) are most commonly found in bank rolls instead of actual pocket change. These are worth about $3.50 and $7, respectively.

NOTE: The values listed above for silver coins assume a silver bullion price of $20 per ounce. Silver coin values will be different when bullion prices are markedly lower or higher.

Here’s my video with some tips for finding rare coins in your pocket change:

 

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70 thoughts on “Top 5 Old Coins Worth Money That You Can Find In Pocket Change”

  1. My grandma just showed me some of her old coins, and also gave me some. I would like to know what the values are for some of them, also their is a weird one with a man and a 1741 date, and a ship on the back and I was wondering what it was, thank you.
    1929 buffalo nickel
    1879 dime(well worn)
    1864 two cent coin
    And a 1910 nickel(worn)
    Also, if you know about the 1741 coin with the man and boat, please tell me what it is. Thank you.

    Reply
      • Hello, Connor –

        Very neat coins! As for the U.S. pieces, I can tell you the following values based on the photos:

        1864 2 Cent coin (I would need a magnifying glass to determine if this is a large or small motto variety) minimum value in your coin’s condition $5-8
        1910 Liberty Head nickel: $1
        1929 (mintmark? It’s under “FIVE CENTS” on the reverse, under your thumb, if there is a mintmark on that piece): $1-1.50
        1876 Liberty Seated dime: $8-10

        As for the foreign coin, I’ve cross referenced the design to every Arabic piece I can find in my world coin catalog but am coming up empty handed at this point. Do you know if your grandmother or other close relatives have done any traveling abroad and, if so, what nations in North Africa or the Middle East they may have done?

        Thanks for your question!
        Josh

        Reply
        • Their is no mintmark on the nickel, and I’ve done more research on the unknown coin, and it is just a play coin.

          Reply
          • The 1864 Large Motto 2 cent piece has a value of around $10 in the condition your piece is in.

            Thanks for the update!

          • No worries, Conner! Thanks for your concern, though. I’m glad I know now, so if I ever get a question about that piece again I’ll have an answer right away. There’s always something new to learn in numismatics, after all!

          • Hello, Connor —

            Thank you so much for letting me know, both about the Buffalo nickel and the play coin! Now I know why I couldn’t find it in any of my world coin catalogs! (Ha ha)

            Take care,
            Josh

  2. I have a casual coin collection and always take a peak at the change I am given and found a wheat penny today that I think has a lamination error. What do you think?

    Reply
    • I also have a dime with a weird bubble on each side, they are not in the same place as each other although it almost looks it. What do you think?

      Reply
      • Hello, Adrienne —

        While it’s impossible to say for certain without closer, physical examination of the coin whether or not this is a mint error, 99 percent of the time (more or less, of course) this is a post-mint issue related to heat exposure. Under high temperatures, the clad layers can separate from the copper core within the coin, causing the types of bubbles your coin has.

        With that being the case, such coins are worth face value.

        Best,
        Josh

        Reply
    • Hello, Adrienne —

      Nice find and great photo. Based on my observation of the coin in the photo and the way the definition of the suspect area and the way the date looks, I would have to agree this is a lamination error.

      Laminations don’t usually add a great deal of value, though some buyers will spend extra for the novelty of the error itself.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hello, Jesse —

      The 1944-D cent on the left is worth 5 to 8 cents while the piece on the right is worth close to 3 cents due to the oxidation. My best advice is to NOT clean these coins (they’re more desirable with their original color/patina) but simply hang onto them as they’re obsolete.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
      • Thank you for the information. At first I thought the one on the left was a S over D it has a small hook near the top of the D and got kind of excited. But it is to hard to tell with out a good magnifier. I also have a 1919 wheat penny no ment mark. Thank you again.

        Reply
    • Hi, Joe —

      I see you have two 1990 Lincoln cents without a mintmark, which at first glance would fit the description of the famous 1990 no-S Lincoln cent that is worth thousands.

      The 1990 no-S Lincoln cents are proof collectors’ coins that have a mirror-like surface and much finer strike. The coins here are business-strike coins from the Philadelphia Mint, which does not place a mintmark on its pennies. These two coins, I’m sorry to break the news to you, are worth face value.

      Do keep your eyes out, though, as there are many, MANY pennies still in circulation that are definitely worth more than a penny. Check this out: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/valuable-pennies/

      Reply
        • Keep at it, Joe! This is a terrific hobby — one that you can love for a lifetime. If you have any more coin questions, please feel free to let us know!

          Reply
    • Hi, Joe —

      Great question. I’m not sure if your particular 2007 cent has any errors or die issues that would make it worth more, but in general, no — 2007 Lincoln cents are only worth only face value if they’re worn.

      Thanks for your question!
      Josh

      Reply
  3. The silver content of Kennedy halves can be confusing because the Mint removed silver in two stages. In short:

    > 1964 halves are 90% silver
    > 1965-1969 halves are 40% silver
    > No 1970 halves were made for circulation
    > 1971 and later halves are made of copper and nickel like dimes and have no added value

    Reply
  4. Im just starting out with all of this. I’m feeling very lost and confused as every site seems to have different lists (I guess its personal preference to some extent). Im wondering if there is a good book with lists that can help me start learning and start a collection of my own. Im looking for something that is easy for a beginner (id love pics if possible!) but one that lists dates and defects. Thank you in advance to anyone who can point me to a book or site to get me started!

    Reply
    • Hi, A.

      Numismatics is a very complex field, and depending on how deep you intend to go with coin collecting, it can seem like a maze. I think what you are looking for, based on your comments, is a rundown of the coins you can find in pocket change, what they’re worth, and how to get more involved with the hobby when you’re ready.

      I find that some of the internet likes to sensationalize what you can find in pocket change — and some sites use numismatically incorrect verbiage such as values for “perfect” coins, etc. By the way, you will never find a “perfect” coin in pocket change, because it will have some degree of wear. In coin collecting, “perfect” refers to a coins that are very few and far between and never touched in circulation.

      There is a lot of subjectivity in coin collecting, something you’re very keen to point out. Even in grading the condition of a coin, there is some degree of variation among the different standards or “schools” of coin grading.

      Here are a few links I think you might find helpful:

      U.S. Coins Worth More Than Face Value: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/us-coins/

      5 Surefire Tips To Find A Good Coin Dealer: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/coin_dealer/

      Coin Grading Basics: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/grading_coins-3/

      5 Great Coin Books You Must Have: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/coin_books-2/

      By the way, if you buy only one coin book, by all means buy “A Guide Book of United States Coins.” It’s commonly referred to as “The Red Book” (given its red cover) and has been published annually since 1947. It’s considered one of the most worthwhile books in the coin world, is edited by the leading numismatic professionals, and offers lots of great information for beginners.

      All the best to you in your coin collecting travels! Please feel free to ask any coin questions here that you like anytime!

      Best,
      Josh

      One of the best books you

      Reply
    • Hi, Nicole —

      This is a Lincoln-Kennedy novelty coin that was made in the 1970s or early 1980s. A private company took thousands of regular Lincoln cents and counterstamped an image of JFK as a tribute to the fallen president. These are worth around 50 cents to $1 each.

      Here’s more information on the Lincoln-Kennedy penny: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/lincoln_kennedy/

      Cheers,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Shannon —

      I don’t see any apparent die varieties or other issues on the obverse; perhaps there might be something worthwhile on the reverse. Otherwise, this is a nicely worn 1964 Lincoln cent worth two cents for its copper bullion value.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  5. Hey Joshua can I have your email I have a few coins I would like to show you. Unfortunately it does not let me post them here.

    Thanks

    Reply
  6. Interesting coins.. I think it has errors, I am taking an interest.. what are your findings concerning this coin? Thank-You in advance.

    Reply
    • Hi, Lifted!

      Keen of you to notice the differences on this 1970 Washington quarter, but unfortunately what I see is some post-mint damage and not any errors.

      Keep checking your change for more interesting pieces! They’re out there!

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  7. Can you tell me what I’ve got here? I don’t know how easy you’ll be able to make out the pictites, but what is your tajr? Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi, Teresa —

      What you have appears to be a $4 Stella gold coin, which was made in 1879 and 1880. Stellas are very rare, and I’m a little concerned about this piece, which may be only a replica. The gold coins should weigh 7 grams; the coloration of this coin in the image appears to possibly be copper, but I can’t tell. I hope this is an authentic $4 gold Stella.

      Please let me know what your piece weighs and I’ll try to assist further.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Barnes and Noble has a section called ‘collectors’ or ‘collections.’ I found a great book in that section that has pictures of coins. Probably your best bet for figuring out what you have.

      Reply
      • The book will also give you real figured for what you can expect to be paid for such coins, not just what one person is offering at a given time.

        Reply
  8. Hello Josh a friend of mine recently told me of a 1970’s quarter that is worth $ 45,000 dollars but did not know all the information as to what to look for. Can you tell me if this is true and if so what to look for

    Reply
  9. Good Morning ! I Just Moved into A Home that was built in 1920,My husband was cleaning the attic and found 2 glass jars with coins in them- the jars date back to 1970 on the bottom of them,Should We take them to a coin shop to see if they are worth anything?

    Reply
    • Hi, Tiffany!

      How exciting! Chances are if most of the coins date since 1970, then they probably aren’t worth much more than face value, unless you have copper pennies from before 1982, errors, or other oddities.

      I suggest you check out this link on U.S. coins worth more than face value: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/us-coins/

      Please let me know if you find anything that seems valuable or unusual!

      Good luck,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Nice coins, M. Head!

      It’s a little hard to see the dates on the dimes, nickels, and silver dollars. I’d also need to please see the reverses (tails) of the coins, especially the silver dollars, to provide a really good answer. At any rate, here’s a basic rundown on minimal values:

      *Liberty nickels — $1 to $3+ each
      *Silver Roosevelt dimes — $1 to $1.50 each
      *1951 and 1952 Franklin half dollars — $6 to $7 each
      *1965 Kennedy half dollar (40% silver) — $3
      *1776-1976 Kennedy half dollar — Worn; face value
      *Morgan silver dollars — $16+ each

      Thank you for your question and photo!
      -Josh

      Reply
  10. The place to check out and also get the right education about coins is Mr. Don Medcalf @ Hawaiian Islands Stamp and Coin. He wrotw the only book on Hawaiian money and his store is like a museum. It’s amazing.
    🙂

    Reply
  11. Can you clarify this for me …. a 1982 d cent that is 3.1 oz (copper) is this worth money …. i saw one auctioned for 19,000

    Reply
    • Hi, Roy —

      Please post clear images of your coin here in the comments section and I’ll be happy to take a look and give you my best opinion on it!

      Have a great day,
      Josh

      Reply
  12. ok so I was taught you can drop a penny on the wood table top and a zinc penny makes a flat noise when it hits the table it doesnt chime or ring . when a copper penny hits the table it gives off a very different noise as it rings and reverberates you can clearly tell there is precious metal in the coin..my dilemma is that I have a 1983 penny that clearly makes the sound of having precious metal in it, but it only weighs 2.5 grams . I’m confused about this and wonder how is this possible? it has to have some precious metals for it to be making the distinctive chime that copper coins make. yet its not congruent with the weight a copper coin weighs.. I’ve heard that it was struck on a bronze blanchet. is bronze lighter then copper? and if that’s the case is it still valuable or am I holding on to a common coin?

    Reply
    • Hi, James —

      It’s true that copper/bronze pennies dropped on a hard surface will ring while zinc cents dropped on the same surface produce a clicking sound. However, this isn’t a foolproof method of sorting copper and zinc pennies, and it’s not how a rare coin like a 1983 bronze Lincoln cent off-metal transitional error would officially be attributed.

      The scale — the numbers — won’t lie, and if your 1983 Lincoln cent is registering 2.5 grams on the scale it’s all but certain to be zinc. The only exception might be if the coin is so exceptionally worn smooth (thus missing metal) that it’s a bronze penny that ultimately weighs much less than even its low-end tolerance weight of 2.98 grams. Not impossible, but the chances of this are infinitesimally small.

      By the way, copper is the main metal in the alloy known as bronze, which is mostly copper and part zinc.

      I hope this info helps,
      Josh

      Reply

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