Answers To Your Questions About Strange Coins: Tokens, Big Coins, Tiny Coins, Two-Headed Coins, Blank Coins & Colored Coins

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Unusual looking coins definitely raise a lot of eyebrows. They also raise a lot of questions.

With regard to strange coins, these are the 3 types of questions I get the most:

  1. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people asking about old tokens they’ve found.
  2. I also get asked about big coins, tiny coins, and other things that look like coins but aren’t legal tender.
  3. Several people want to know what’s up with coins that are blank on one side and two-headed coins.

Tokens

Are these odd coins even real?

Most of the coins I’ll talk about in this post fall into the category of exonumia — things that are related to coins but aren’t necessarily real, legal tender coinage.

Some of the coins I’ll talk about here are novelty coinspieces that are or once were legal tender coins but have since been altered into some other type of coin oddity.

Okay, here are answers to the most common questions I get about strange coins that look real…

 

Token Coins

“Why does my coin have a picture of Chuck E. Cheese on it?”

Ah, yes… tokens.

While I’m not a token collector per se, I do have several neat old tokens, and these pieces are pretty neat to people who love nostalgia, retail history, or want to take a trip back to an earlier era of the tourism industry.

As recently as the 1990s, it was common for restaurants, grocery stores, theme parks — you name it — to hand out souvenir token coins. Often, these tokens could be redeemed for special offers — like a free meal, free admission, or something like that.

Even places like Chuck E. Cheese used to have tokens that you could use to play arcade games.

Many of these old tokens are collectible and are worth $1 to $5.

Rare tokens, such as those that were used during the Civil War era, are worth hundreds of dollars.

 

Big Coins

“I have a large Indian Head penny. Is it rare? What’s it worth?”

I’ve gotten this specific question more than a few times over the years. I actually own one of these replica coins, and I bought it for $4 at an old-timey tourist gift shop in Florida.

large-indian-penny

Large coins like this are neat-looking replicas, but that’s all they are. They’re not legal tender in any way.

Most of these big coins are made from base metals and aren’t typically worth more than $3 to $5.

Big coins come in many different designs. I’ve personally seen the following:

  • Large Lincoln pennies
  • Large Buffalo nickels
  • Large Jefferson nickels
  • Large Mercury dimes
  • Large Roosevelt dimes
  • Large Washington quarters
  • Large Walking Liberty half dollars
  • Large Franklin half dollars
  • Large Kennedy half dollars
  • Large Morgan silver dollars
  • Large Peace silver dollars
  • Large Eisenhower dollars

While none of these big coins are rare or valuable, they make great conversation pieces and look cool on the mantle.

 

Tiny Coins

“I have a tiny Kennedy half dollar. What’s it worth?”

On the opposite end of the spectrum are tiny coins that look like the real thing but are only a fraction of the size of their regular coin counterparts.

I’ve seen all types of tiny coins including:

  • Small Lincoln pennies
  • Small Buffalo nickels
  • Small Mercury dimes
  • Small Washington quarters
  • Small Kennedy half dollars
  • Small Eisenhower dollars

Tokens

None of these were made at the United States Mint.

In fact, they’re tiny novelty coins. Some of them were made for doll play sets. Some are play money.

But those realistic-looking, mini coins that you may have are small novelty coins that are 100% true to the original coins they replicate — they’re just a fraction of the size!

I bought a few of these tiny coins just for the fun of owning some. They’re worth 50 cents to $1 apiece, and while they’re not rare (and certainly aren’t legal tender), they’re still pretty awesome to hold in the hand.

 

Two-Headed Coins (Or Coins With Two “Tails” Sides)

“Why does my nickel have Jefferson on both sides? What’s this two-headed coin worth?”

I always hate breaking the news to people that these coins aren’t valuable and, technically, they aren’t even legal tender.

These two-headed (or double tails) coins are usually fantasy pieces that were made by hollowing out the side of one coin right up to the rim and meticulously (and snugly) fitting another coin inside the shell.

Normally, two-headed coins are made for illusionists or people who want to win bar bets.

Exonumia coins like this are worth anywhere from 25 cents to a few dollars as novelty coins. But they aren’t rare, and you don’t want to try spending any as real money!

 

Coins That Are Blank On One Side

“My Lincoln penny is blank on one side. Why is this? How rare is it?”

Surely, coins that are blank on one side look pretty unusual. But in most cases they aren’t rare or valuable.

However, modern minting techniques make it virtually impossible to strike a coin that looks perfect on one side and completely blank on the other.

  • NOTE: There are some real error coins that look weak or somewhat mutilated on one side. Different types of error coins like this exist, and based on the origin of the error are worth between $5 and $100 (or more).

Normally, when people ask me questions about coins that are blank on one side, the photo I end up seeing is a coin that looks normal on one side but has tiny grooves or striations on the “blank” side. That typically means somebody sanded away or sheared off the other side and later polished it to look like the coin was really struck only on one side.

I got ripped off. Blank dollar coin.

Blank coins are real coins that have been terribly mutilated to look like unusual one-sided coins. Often, they’re produced for illusionists or people fascinated with fantasy coins or other exonumia oddities.

For the most part, these one-sided coins may be neat to look at, but have no monetary value in the general coin collector market.

 

Colorized Coins

“My American Silver Eagle is painted red, white, and blue. What’s it worth?”

Colorized coins are real coins that have been altered outside of the U.S. Mint.

Some private mints will colorize regular Washington quarters, American Silver Eagle coins, or other pieces and sell them as special novelty coins. While these painted coins are often beautiful works of coin art, they are not rare and aren’t valuable.

In numismatic terms, colored coins are usually worth only whatever the intrinsic metal content of the coin itself is worth.

For American Silver Eagles, which are one of the most common types of colorized coins, the value is whatever an ounce of silver is worth.

 

Must read: Answers To Your Top 3 Questions About Pennies – Wheat Pennies, Silver Pennies & Gold Pennies

 

As always, feel free to post any photos of unusual coins, tokens, or other money-related items you may have and I’ll be glad to take a look and answer any questions you may have.

Happy collecting!

 

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55 thoughts on “Answers To Your Questions About Strange Coins: Tokens, Big Coins, Tiny Coins, Two-Headed Coins, Blank Coins & Colored Coins”

  1. I have what appears to be a Silver Mount Hood Quarter with gold features on the backside was wondering if u new anything about it because I can’t find anything like it online

    Reply
    • Hi, Jesse —

      You have a collector medal or token that appears to be made of bronze. Many types of presidential tokens and medals like this exist, and they are usually worth between $3 and $5 each.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hello, Anisha —

      You’ll be glad to know your coin IS worth more than face value! The best way for me to tell you by about how much would be to know its date and mintmark (the little letter under the date, if there is one on your coin).

      Good luck!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Anisha —

      From what I can tell in the photo, it looks like it MAY be machine doubling (a relatively common error caused during the manufacture), but I can’t say for certain without seeing the coin in hand with a 5-10X magnifying glass. As that isn’t feasibly possible, I’d suggest taking your coin to a reputable local coin dealer who can examine the coin up close.

      Here’s a link with info on coin dealers: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/coin_dealer/
      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  2. This is a 2000 Lincoln Penny, it is bigger than normal and a charcoal color. I have never seen anything like it. Is this worth anything? It is not magnetic.

    Reply
    • Hi Dave, while over a million experimental 1974 cents were struck in aluminum there’s no record of 1973-dated coins being made of any metal other than bronze. My first suggestions would be:

      – Try the standard magnet test. If it sticks, it’s a ferrous metal. If not, you can rule out steel.
      – If you can get a sensitive scale, weigh the coin. A genuine bronze cent should come it at about 3.11 gm. Aluminum would be very noticeable because it would weigh only about 1 gm.

      If the weight is near 3.11 gm, your cent was probably plated (hey, plating coins is a common experiment in a basic chemistry class!) If not, you could have what’s called an off-metal strike, which happens when a blank intended for a different coin gets mixed in with standard blanks. At one time the US Mint also struck coins for other countries that used different metals. It wasn’t unknown for mix-ups to occur.

      Reply
  3. I found a 02 Ohio state quarter with what appears to be a number 1 in George’s neck there any significants to that? I also have a 1892 wheat Penny does that have any value?

    Reply
    • I really like Indian Head* cents! Your 1902 coin is a nice find. It might retail for around $2 in average condition. If it’s really worn it could still be worth 75 cents to a dollar.

      (*) To explain, “wheat” cents have 2 wheat ears on the back and the familiar portrait of Lincoln on the front. They were minted from 1909 to 1958. If you’re lucky you may still find one in change. Most later-date “wheaties” are only worth a few cents each but if you find one from the 1920s or earlier it can be worth more.

      Reply
  4. I have found a James K Polk coin/token that has John Adams’ information on the back. I would like to know if it is of any value. Here is a picture of the front and back. I cannot find any information anywhere else. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Hi, Kenny and Misty —

    These presidential tokens are worth around $1 to $2 and were produced as part of a private series.

    Best,
    Josh

    Reply
  6. Hello, I just wanted to share something I found mildly humorous. I typically enjoy giving coins, usually silver ounces, as gifts. One friend in particular I have given Mexican Libertads and an Arcangel Michael coin (from the UK I believe) because she loves angels (and many people confuse the figure on the Libertad with an angel). Well, what do you think is her favorite coin that I’ve ever given her? You guessed it: the tiny “Nixon” penny.

    Reply
    • Ha! Well, if she is a Nixon fan, you might want to give her another coin in 2016 — the U.S. Mint is making a dollar coin next year honoring our nation’s 37th president.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Nice find, Rachael —

      This appears to be a die chip, which is a type of variety that occurs when the die (which imprints an image onto coins) essentially breaks in one area, allowing raised areas to appear on coins where they normally wouldn’t. This is actually a fairly common type of variety called a “BIE” error, given its name because of the appearance of an “I” between the “B” and “E” in “LIBERTY.”

      These are normally worth between $1 and $3.

      Thank you for your question!
      Josh

      Reply
  7. hello everyone… can somebody please help me. i want to know the value of this coin and if it genuine. i think its silver coz it doesn’t rush over the years..

    Reply
  8. I have been trying to research this coin for a few days now and there is not much that I am actually able to find on the coin. Does anyone know anything about this coin?

    Reply
    • Hi, Tayler —

      This is some type of medal, though I’m not sure of its origin. It appears to be a private-mint bronze piece and is likely part of a series honoring the 50 states. I can tell you that similar medals are generally worth $2 to $5.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Robin —

      I’m afraid I don’t see a photo of the coin you were asking about. Please feel free to re-upload and try again!

      Have a great week,
      Josh

      Reply
  9. I have a 1957 penny with the letter B engraved under the date, I’ve seen 15 other people saying the same thing but nothing else?

    Reply
    • Hi, Natosha —

      I would need to please see a photo of your coin to ascertain what’s going on with your coin. While many people ask about this same thing, in every case I’ve seen so far, the “B” is actually a “D” mintmark or there is a letter “B” engraved on the coin by somebody outside the Mint.

      I hope you have a great day!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hello, Gracie —

      You have three neat old pieces! I don’t know a year on the JNO Clark token, but I do have record of JNO Clark tokens coming from Delaware County, Oklahoma about 90 to 100 years ago. I believe these were merchandise tokens. I don’t know the precise value because there isn’t any reliable market information I can find for the token, but similar pieces often retail for $3 to $5, and sometimes more.

      Your 1901 Liberty Head nickel was part of a series struck from 1883 to 1913 and is distinctive for its large “V” Roman number (for “5” cents) on the reverse of the coin. Your piece is worth around $1 to $2. Here’s more info you might find interesting:

      Your 1910 King Edward VII large cent is from Canada and is worth about $2.

      What a classic trio!
      Josh

      Reply
      • Hey, Eli!

        Great question. This coin has some type of environmental damage, which caused the brown discoloration. It is worth face value.

        By the way, you may post questions as often as you like!

        Thank you and have a great day,
        Josh

        Reply
        • Hi my friend , see this notice! Maybe we have money now! Bro!

          Enviado desde mi iPhone

          El sept 20, 2016, a las 12:11 PM, Disqus escribió:
          Settings

          A new comment was posted on U.S. Coin Guide

          JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          Hey, Eli!
          Great question. This coin has some type of environmental damage, which caused the brown discoloration. It is worth face value. By the way, you may post questions as often as you like!
          Thank you and have a great day,
          Josh
          12:11 p.m., Tuesday Sept. 20 | Other comments by JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          Reply to JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide’s comment is in reply to Alex amado:

          Hi eli!
          Read more
          You’re receiving this message because you’re signed up to receive notifications about replies to Aledisqus_7mRH9hZjGH.
          You can unsubscribe from emails about replies to Aledisqus_7mRH9hZjGH by replying to this email with “unsubscribe” or reduce the rate with which these emails are sent by adjusting your notification settings.

          Reply
        • And this es my coin

          Enviado desde mi iPhone

          El sept 20, 2016, a las 9:25 PM, ale. a. escribió:
          Hi my friend , see this notice! Maybe we have money now! Bro!

          Enviado desde mi iPhone

          El sept 20, 2016, a las 12:11 PM, Disqus escribió:
          Settings

          A new comment was posted on U.S. Coin Guide

          JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          Hey, Eli!
          Great question. This coin has some type of environmental damage, which caused the brown discoloration. It is worth face value. By the way, you may post questions as often as you like!
          Thank you and have a great day,
          Josh
          12:11 p.m., Tuesday Sept. 20 | Other comments by JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          Reply to JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide’s comment is in reply to Alex amado:

          Hi eli!
          Read more
          You’re receiving this message because you’re signed up to receive notifications about replies to Aledisqus_7mRH9hZjGH.
          You can unsubscribe from emails about replies to Aledisqus_7mRH9hZjGH by replying to this email with “unsubscribe” or reduce the rate with which these emails are sent by adjusting your notification settings.

          Reply
  10. Do you have any clue what this Coin is ? Or have you ever seen this Coin before ? It’s got some weight to it and is just a tiny bit wider all around than an a one ounce silver coin. Some kind of Asian language on 1 side. Other side looks like a Dragon in the center and says SHEN-SI PROVINCE above the Dragon and ONE TAEL under the Dragon. If you happen to know of this Coin do you know if it has any value to it ? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6ffb57a771fa35d34e175dc5743c766e79e5a5c6dcc7761192d965a2406dd81f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a079b985cf6972a7ac6959a449a6894e81d377bdc7b1b644d0aa25798eef9547.jpg

    Reply
    • Hi, Christian —

      This is a a type of token widely referred to as a “round,” and these are not coins designed for circulation but rather are meant for collectors. This piece. Note that this medal’s composition is listed as “CU,” which is the symbol for copper” and says it’s silver plated. That means this is really a copper medal with only a thin coating of silver. As these medals are worth the value of the metal, this piece is worth about $2 which is the typical price of a 40-millimeter copper round. I’d say it’s a nice memento of your grandfather and something I’d hang on to if I were you.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply

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