Do you think you have a United States rare coin? I thought I did.
What follows is my own novice approach to finding the value of some coins I had saved through the years.
Everyone does this at some point, right? Have you gone through the coins in your coin jar yet?
The Coins In My Coin Jar
I was fishing around for some coins for the soda machine yesterday, when I found a 1974 nickel that looked strangely silver-colored — or else strangely dirty.
I don’t know if 1974 nickels are especially valuable in terms of rare coins or not, but I do remember my dad always telling me there were certain years that you were supposed to hold onto.
He said something about…
- Pennies with wheat on the back
- Coins with a “D” on them
- Any silver coins (…but how are you supposed to tell?)
- Susan B. Anthony $1 coins
Anyway, I thought I’d do a little research to find out which U.S. coins are actually worth something these days.
And from now on, I’m saving them!
The best sites on the web I found for quick access to coin values was Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers and Professional Coin Grading Service. Their sites are very up-to-date and make it easy to find the value of virtually any U.S. coin!
What My Coins Are Worth…
- Wheat Pennies (…worth 2 to 5 times their face value)
- Steel Pennies (…supposedly very common; all are from 1943 and they stick to a magnet; worth up to a dime)
- 1943 Copper Pennies (…they primarily made steel pennies this year, making the standard copper penny rare for the year 1943; how does $20,000 sound?!)
- Indian Head Pennies (…who knew a penny could be worth up to 3 dollars?!)
- Buffalo Nickels (…they’re worth up to a dollar)
Which Coins Aren’t Worth A Thing…
- Pennies with the Lincoln Memorial (1959-present)
- Your everyday Jefferson Nickel (1938-present)
- Roosevelt Dimes (1965-present)
- Washington Quarters — even the bicentennial one (1965-present)
- Susan B. Anthony Dollars (1979-1999)
The Value Of My Coin Collection
Turns out, my 1974 dirty silver-looking nickel is worth a whopping… 5 cents.
But I still felt the urge to continue rummaging through all of the old coins I’ve been saving through the years. I mean, what are the odds that I could be sitting on something of value?
After a quick search here, this is what I found…
It’s not much, but the maximum value of my coin collection looks to be around 3 dollars and 10 cents.
- (2) 1964 silver Roosevelt Jefferson nickels (5x face value = $.25 ea)
- (2) 1959 silver Roosevelt Jefferson nickels (5x face value = $.25 ea)
- (1) 1943 mercury dime (10x face value = $1.00 ea)
- (22) 1939-1958 wheat pennies (5x face value = $.05 ea)
Unless, of course, I take this guy’s site into account, which states I could get around 50 cents to a dollar for each of my 1942-64 nickels! … 88 of them at 50-cents each equals: $44! Guess I’ll be holding onto those just in case. (The site claims $2 for “very fine” quality, which mine are not, so I deducted $1.50 each to account for the “well-circulated” condition of my nickels.)
Ah well… maybe my stamp collection is worth something. My mom will tell you it is. She’s the one who bought most of those “plate block sets of 4” for me through my elementary and high school years! I’ve got a few thousand dollars worth of “mint condition” stamps — in face value alone!
Fun Things I’ve Done With Coins
So… maybe I haven’t struck it rich yet, but I’ve had a good time scavenging around for old coins through the years!
As a kid, we used to save up our pennies then take them down to the train tracks. We’d place a slew of them on the actual rails, then wait for a train to pass by. The trains would flatten the pennies like pancakes, turning our pennies into mini copper saucers. We’d save the flat pennies for a few years — until we decided to start skipping them (like rocks) in the river.
Then one year, my dad had me convinced that coin collecting was yet another hobby I needed to start. (That’s in addition to my beer can collection, my matchbook collection, my rock collection, my keyring collection, and my stamp collection!) So my mission became to save one penny from every year, one nickel from every year, and so on. And I polished them all up nice & shiny too. (I would use a pencil eraser.) Little did I know at the time that cleaning your coin collection was a very bad thing to do. Take it from me, don’t clean your coins!
What I Learned Today…
Sometimes you’ve gotta look REAL hard to spot what makes a coin valuable… like this 1995 penny!
Geesh… does all this coin research make me an amateur numismatist now???
If you have a coin and you would like to know what it’s worth, you have 2 options:
Or, get your own coin price guide to check prices yourself at home.
I received this comment to the above article I wrote:
Hello Lynnette, nice article. However, the 1959 and 1964 Jefferson nickels that you found in your coin collection are not silver. You may be thinking of the 1942-1945 Jefferson nickels that contained 35% silver. Really, only the copper-nickel clad Jefferson nickels dated before 1942 are valued by collectors. Most post-1945 nickels are fairly common in circulation.
— Joshua (…who clearly knows a lot more about coins than I do!)
We are so glad that Josh has agreed to write informative articles about coins for us here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins. His tips are super helpful for novices, like me, who don’t know much about coins. If you, too, have found some neat coins in your pocket change — or inherited them from a family member — and you just want to know roughly how much our coins are worth, then search for your specific coin in the “search box” on this page. Chances are, Josh has already written an article about your coin and you’ll find everything you want to know about it… and more.
Here’s the ultimate guide of U.S. Coins worth more than face value — a list of the most valuable coins you should be saving in all denominations!
More About Rare U.S. Coins
- Rare U.S. Pennies Including the 1943 Penny
- 5 Rare and Valuable US Coins
- Rare Lincoln-Kennedy Penny: Are Commemorative Coins Valuable?