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I’ve been writing about valuable coins for nearly a decade here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins. And for all these years I’ve also served as the site’s moderator and resident coin expert, answering questions from readers just like you.
Having replied to more than 3,000 reader inquiries (so far!), I’ve noticed a pretty strong trend among all the questions I’ve answered. Just about everybody wants to know, “What are my coins worth?”
I love these types of questions, because it’s always great to learn what fellow coin collectors are finding in their pocket change, or tucked away in boxes, or stashed away in old change jars at home.
In answering these questions, I also have the opportunity to educate many readers about their coins and hopefully inspire people to keep checking their change for old and rare coins.
Of course, not every coin you find in spare change is valuable. In fact, of the coins circulating today, most are worth only face value. But there are many coins that are worth much, much more.
And, of course, a large number of heirloom coins — the kinds that are passed down through the generations — are oftentimes worth a whole bunch of money.
Nothing makes me happier in this line of work than when I get to tell readers that their old coins are worth $100, $300, or $500. I’ve even helped some discover that their coins are worth $1,000 — values that have been verified, by the way, during follow-up visits with their local coin dealers.
My point here? Please keep asking me your coin questions — because you may be lucky and have some valuable coins on your hands, too!
But how can you find out for yourself if you have any valuable coins?
Where To Check For Coin Values
There are many great online coin price guides and references that will help you determine the value of your coins.
I’ve also written quite a few guides myself that provide lists of coin values. Here are a few you may find helpful:
- Most Valuable Pennies – Each of these 43 pennies is worth at least $1 each!
- Most Valuable Nickels – These silver 5-cent pieces, Buffalo nickels, and other interesting coins are worth at least 20 cents apiece.
- Most Valuable Dimes – Check out these old dimes that are worth $1 or more.
- Most Valuable Quarters – If you find any of these old quarters in your pocket change, they’re worth at least $1!
- Most Valuable Half Dollars – Many half dollars made before 1971 are worth more than face value. Here’s a list of half dollars valued at $3 or more.
- Most Valuable Silver Dollars – It’s hard to find silver dollars these days, which is why some are worth more than face value. These are valued at $15 or more!
Of course, there are many other great guides. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Professional Coin Grading Service Coin Price Guide
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation Price Guide
- Heritage Auctions Coin Price Guide
- CoinWeek Coin Price Guides
If you’re like me and enjoy reading actual coin books (you know — the kind you can buy at a bookstore), then you’re in luck. There are many wonderful coin books, as well as coin magazines, that provide insight on coin values and other coin pricing information.
Here are what I believe to be some of the best coin books and coin price magazines on the market today:
- A Guide Book of United States Coins
- Handbook of United States Coins
- The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Coins
- COINage (magazine)
- Coin World (magazine)
- Coins (magazine)
- Coin Dealer Newsletter
How To Get A Coin Appraised
If you want your coins appraised, that will require a little extra legwork on your part.
The best way to find out what specific coins are worth (because coin price guides can only give approximate values) is to take them to your nearest coin dealer.
A Few Things To Remember About Coin Values
I think a lot of people get discouraged when they learn their old silver dollars are worth only $15 or $20, or that the wheat ears pennies they’ve found in pocket change have a value of just 3 to 5 cents each.
Here are some things to remember about coin values:
- The fact that a coin is old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth a lot of money.
- If you clean your coins, even just a bit, you’re going to cut the value of your coins in half — or more. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. Coin collectors don’t like cleaned coins, and you’re doing no favors by brightening them up so “they look pretty and new.” That’s just the way it is.
- Chances are, if you find an old coin in a piece of jewelry, its value will be diminished because of the damage caused to the coin when inserting it into the setting.
- Be careful about getting your hopes up with any really old coins that you find. Many are real, but some old coins that people find are fake. Therefore, please post photos of the old coins you find when asking me questions about them here — so I can help you determine if they are counterfeit or the “Real McCoy”!
- If you find an old wheat cent from the 1930s, 1940s, or 1950s, it’s probably worth less than 1o cents. Some, however, are worth considerably more.
- Most silver dollars dated from the 1880s through 1930s that you’ll happen upon are worth somewhere between $15 and $20 when silver bullion prices are under $20 per ounce. But, yes, some silver dollars are worth much more.
- If you find a 2-headed coin, there’s a 99.9% chance it’s a piece that was altered for use by illusionists, made by a peddler, or enjoyed by a gagster who likes winning bar bets. These coins have no numismatic value.
More Coin Price Guides
- World Coin Price Guide
- Silver Coin Melt Value
- Gold Coin Melt Value
- NumisMedia Fair Market Value Coin Price Guide
- How To Choose The Best Coin Price Guide
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!