Rare U.S. Coins Are Easier To Find Than You Think



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Ah, rare coins… we all would love to find a rare coin in an attic chest, in our inheritance or, yes, even in our pocket change. In fact, none of these scenarios are impossible.

You may be glad to hear that there are dozens of U.S. coins considered rare, and that many estates include rare U.S. coins. Many others are found in attics, old drawers and chests, and some are even found in circulation!

So, how do you know if a coin you have is rare? And how do you find out how much your rare coin is worth?

 

Rare Coins Value

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to determine the value of rare coins.

The reason for this is threefold: coin values range widely, rare coins are diverse, and there are many kinds.

Rare U.S. coins do not have a rubber-stamped value. They can range in price from the hundreds to the millions of dollars, based on the coin, condition, year, etc. Thus, there is no catch-all way to see what your coin is worth without evaluating it individually, and on a sight-seen basis.

 

The Most Popular Rare U.S. Coins

These are some of the rare U.S. coins that are often encountered in coin collecting:

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    1877 Indian Head penny ($850-$8,500)
  • 1909-S V.D.B. penny ($750-$4,500)
  • 1916-D Mercury dime ($1,200-$35,000)
  • 1916 Standing Liberty quarter ($3,900-$35,000)
  • and any number of error coins, including doubled-dies (worth from the tens of dollars to the thousands, based on date, prominence of doubling, etc.).


How To Determine If You Have A Rare Coin & Its Value

The best way to identify which coins are rare is to buy a really good book on United States coins. I like A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett.

This book is especially good for those who have no background in U.S. coins but want to see if the coins they have found are rare. Simply compare the dates and designs of the coins to those in the book and you will quickly get some idea as to how rare your coins are, based on mintage numbers (the number of coins made) and their relative prices.

Of course, the condition of your coins will greatly determine their values. A Guide Book of United States Coins briefly details how to grade coins based on wear.

You may want to a have a professional coin dealer or 3rd-party grading service determine if your coins are authentic, and also to determine the grade and overall condition of your coins.

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) maintains a website that lists coin prices. This is the resource that was used to list prices for the rare coins mentioned above.

Joshua

I'm the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. 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 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 authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!

23 thoughts on “Rare U.S. Coins Are Easier To Find Than You Think

  1. I have several old coins (looks like) rare. I can’t seem to get a value on line. I believe they are worth some value. . . please adivse …too many to list.

    1. Hi, Angela —

      I’m happy to help, but I will need to have some dates, denominations, nations (where the coins were made) of your coins so I can begin giving you some values… If you’d like, feel free to post some info here on a few coins you’re most interested in and I’ll gladly give you some pricing insight!

      Don’t forget, there are many articles here, with photos, on most of the major U.S. coins. More articles and posts are being added all the time. Check out the rest of The Fun Times Guide To Coins and, hopefully, you’ll be able to find out some more about the values of your coins that way, too!

  2. hi my name is janet i have a coin thats is the same as the picture of the quarter coin of one of the rare coins in youre page .the 1916 standing liberty coin.

    1. Hi, Janet —

      Are you able to see the date on your coin, or has the date been worn off? Most Standing Liberty quarters are common, but based on the date (or lack thereof) I can give you a better idea as to its value, because they’re all worth more than face value; some are worth much more…

  3. Hello my name is Anthony and I have a Standing Liberty Quarter. Unfortunately the year is worn out. Is there another way to determine the year.

    1. Hi, Tony —

      Unfortunately the date wears off relatively quickly on Standing Liberty quarters made from 1916 to 1924. It has to do with how high up off the coin’s surface the date is imprinted — it’s one of the first points to receive wear on those coins.

      At an absolute minimum, your coins is worth $5 to $7 for its silver content.

      Unless you apply certain acids to the area of the date, you really can’t tell the exact year. You can, however, find out what RANGE of years your Standing Liberty quarter was made.

      The easiest way to do this is to check for the arrangement of stars on the reverse (tails side) of your coin.

      1916 and some 1917 Standing Liberty quarters have 7 stars left of the eagle and 6 to its right.

      1917 to 1930 Standing Liberty quarters still have 13 stars on the reverse, but 3 are under the eagle.

      If you think you have a 1916 or 1917 Standing Liberty quarter with the 7 stars on the left and 6 on the right, there’s a chance you have the rare 1916 Standing Liberty quarter, worth at least $1,000 or so, even without the date. If your quarter looks like one of the earlier ones, it MAY be worth sending it away to a third party coin grader for testing to see if its a 1916. Here’s info on third party coin grading: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/slabbed_coins/

  4. Sammy,

    The date on Standing Liberty coins made from 1916 to 1924 wore off easily because they were located very “high” on the coin. Later dates were recessed into the design more. Minimal value for a piece such as yours is currently around $5.

  5. Hi, I just made an email and I can’t fine it so I try it again. I have a beautiful liberty with 1881. I also have a Columbian half dollar, 1893 (it is so cool.) I also have my favorite, Lady Liberty, looking to the right, 1912.

    1. Hello, Jo –

      What are the denominations of your 1881 and 1912 coins, please? Is the earlier piece a silver dollar and the latter a half dollar?

      Your 1893 Columbian half dollar is indeed a very cool piece and one of the earliest United States commemorative coins. It is worth around $20.

  6. I am sorry. The Liberty is a silver dollar and is facing right, Hair cascading on shoulder. I have some really nice Liberty, and Indian pennys.

  7. Hi my name is Ashton and I started coin collecting about 2 weeks ago. I was looking at some coins I had and I found a doaller coin with the president James Garfield. The year is 2011 D but the thing I found about it was that there was a cross on the left of the president and I think 2 lighting strikes and I could not find it on the Internet so I was wondering if you knew the price. I sorry the picture is not the best.

    Thanks a lot Ashton

  8. Hey I believe I found a 2010p nickel stamped over bison error in 2005. The spear is very noticeable going through Monticello. I have a 2010 common beside it in the pic. Any knowledge of this? It’s raised not a groove or like a crack

    1. Hi, Julie —

      This could be a die crack, which is a type of mint error worth $1 to $3 in this case. However, as I blow the photo up and examine it more closely, I think I see a possible groove on the left side of the ridge. If that is true, then the coin has post-mint damage and is worth face value. An in-hand examination viewing the coin at multiple angles could hopefully rule out the scratch and ensure this is a die crack variety!

      I hope this helps,
      Josh

      1. Thanks so much. I really appericate you. Here’s a few more close up pics I have. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e59e3199e1146ba0b163dc1c185061b74ad84740ba3db9033198ed21ff2e4c5.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5de999d4b5831fd3539c0bb9d0640f5e377119a0a0bc8c6537da66b607462d6b.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f9bc42510f11633abd87a6ed43b8c642f136016ad9254a3fae5e451705152c44.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/47bab2aa87d5d954ae0cebeb4e6710f8383d4a6010704d44ba6982a9255cc607.png

        1. Hi, Julie —

          I appreciate the additional photos. It *looks* like this is possible post mint damage given the rim ticks and such until I look at the ridge of the coin. I always reserve saying a coin is a this or that unless the photos are conclusive. In this case I can’t say for certain because I would need to see the edge of the ridge, which I may not be able to view properly unless I saw the coin in-hand. Certainly a nearby dealer could ascertain this for you with magnification.

          If this is a die break variety, its likely value would be in the $3 to $5 range. If its damage, the coin is worth face value. If you don’t want to risk it, I say hang onto the coin until it’s convenient to get it checked out by a dealer or in-hand by other coin professional.

          If you want to stop by a coin dealer, here are some links that may help:

          *5 Surefire Tips for Finding a Good Coin Dealer — https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/coin_dealer/
          *Nationwide Searchable Coin Dealer Database — https://png.memberclicks.net/find-a-png-dealer

          Good luck,
          Josh

  9. 1968 no S dime… any advice on ways to identify the rare from common? I have a few pics. One is very different. It even looks and feels a bit smaller. The rim is very nice, letters are very noticeable and the number 8 is not as flat as the other 2. It has a different shine to it and really see detail in the hair. I’ve read and searched and searched. Can you give me your experienced opinion?( 1st one on white back ground. 3rd dime w black background ) I appericate your help.

    1. Hello, Julie!

      It’s great you’re looking out for the rare varieties. While this 1968 dime without a mintmark was made at the Philadelphia Mint and is not the 1968 no-S proof dime that you’re probably asking about (and each pictured is worth face value due to their wear), I urge you to continue looking for the rare coin varieties. They are out there, and they are turning up in circulation.

      Here’s a link with some of the coins you should also be keeping your eye out for in pocket change: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/us-coins/

      Best,
      Josh

  10. Can you tell me what’s going on with my Sacagawea dollar coin?? I will upload some pics . Thanks so much I’m stuck here lol.

    1. Hi, Julie —

      What stands out is that your coin is discolored, which is a problem that affects many Sacagawea dollars due to their metallic composition. The mottled toning may have been caused by the way it was stored. While this piece is worth face value, it’s still neat to hang onto if you’re a fan of these coins.

      Best,
      Josh

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