Are There Valuable Coins in Your Pocket?

Most people have, at one time or another emptied the coins out of their pockets and wondered if there were any valuable coins in the mélange. Walking along the street you may find a wheat penny and dream that it is worth a small fortune.

In fact, many collectors with huge coin collections started out with a few unusual pennies. Why?

Well, pennies are everywhere. They have little value and people often don’t bother to even pick them up if they drop. There are many variations of pennies and they are, for the most part, quite affordable.

Source

Are Pennies Valuable?

The more unique a penny is the more likely it is to be valuable.

As recently as 1995 pennies were released with double die errors; coins that have a double image. There were so many released into circulation that they are pretty easy to come by and therefore quite affordable. You may even find one of these in the change you get from the grocery store if you look carefully.

Indian head and wheat pennies are two other collectible penny variations that are still in circulation. Once you begin to look for them you are more likely to find these collectible pennies.

Where to Find Collectible Coins

If you are looking for a particular type of coin to add to your collection it is best to buy from a reputable coin dealer and not an auction online. This is especially true if you have little experience with coin collecting.

Other possible sources for coins are:

  • Estate auctions
  • Flea markets
  • Garage sales
  • Other collectors

Interesting Mint Errors

Hunting for Treasure

For most inhabitants of the 21st century a treasure hunt is something read about in fiction books but for coin collectors, and especially those that enjoy picking up the odd penny on the street, it can be a daily occurrence. Pennies can be found everywhere from cash registers to sidewalks and you never know when you will find one that is worth a lot of money. Be careful, though. Once you begin looking for unusual and collectible coins you may be hooked for life.

Pennies to Look For

Of course some pennies are rarer and more valuable than others.

First Penny

The first penny was made out of copper and issued in 1787 and legend has it that Paul Revere provided the copper (or at least some of it) that went into the making of these first pennies. This first American penny is somewhat rare and is referred to as the Fugio cent.

Indian Head

Introduced in 1859, the Indian head cent was made for the next 50 years. The last Indian head penny was minted in 1909. Their composition changed from pure copper to a 95/5 combination of copper and zinc in 1864.

The Indian head cent is easily identified by the likeness of an Indian princess with headdress on one side and “one cent” stamped on the other.

Lincoln Cent

The first Lincoln portrait penny was put into circulation in 1909. It was a commemorative cent, minted to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday. This was the first time that the words “In God We Trust” were added to the penny.

The designer’s initials, VDB, were on the coin in 1909 and then removed in subsequent mints. The initials were added back to the penny in 1918.

Memorial Cent

Until 1959 the words “one cent” appeared on one side of the penny encircled by two heads of ripe wheat. In 1959 this was changed to an image of the Lincoln Memorial. The Memorial design was created by Frank Gasparro and his initials can be found in the shrubbery around the Memorial if you look carefully.

Steel Cent

The steel cent is easy to recognize because it is a silver colored penny. These pennies were put in circulation in 1943 because of World War II and a shortage of copper. They were made of low-grade steel with a zinc coating. Other than the color the pennies looked like the Lincoln head penny.

Wheat Pennies

Until 1950 when the Memorial penny was introduced a double head of wheat could be found on the back of the penny. While these are somewhat common, some wheat pennies are worth much more than others.

  • 1909 – S VDB
  • 1909 –S
  • 1914 – D
  • 1922 with no mint mark below the date
  • 1931 – S
  • 1943 Bronze/copper
  • 1943 – D Bronze/copper
  • 1943 – S Bronze/copper
  • 1944 Steel
  • 1955 Double Die

1972 Double Die

In 1972 a group of pennies were minted that had the date and motto doubled. This is a favorite of coin collectors.

1982 Penny

In 1982 copper was no longer used in the same percentage as before. The composition was changed for the first time (other than World War II) since 1864. The penny had been 95/5 copper to zinc but in 1982 it was changed to 97.5/2.5 copper to zinc because of the rising costs of copper.

More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

TycoonSam profile image

TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

Very nice Hub. I collected pennies as a kid but changed (no pun intended) to gold coins.

Voted up and interesting


KawikaChann profile image

KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

I always look for coins that may not be the norm, but I never thought to look for double strikes, and cuts... an awesome article filled with great info. thanks. kawi.


Your Cousins profile image

Your Cousins 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

From now on, I will definitely check all my pennies instead of just emptying my jar into Coinstar. I may have a few valuable coins in there. Thanks for the great info.


blossomfour 4 years ago

Great reminder to value coins. Good hub!


zylla3philippines profile image

zylla3philippines 4 years ago from Anaheim, CA

Very interesting...I've got job to do!


Laura Matkin profile image

Laura Matkin 4 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

I have helped my Father go through his change many times we didn't know what we were looking for now we do Thanks


icountthetimes 4 years ago

Great hub. When I was young my father showed me a bag of old coins he'd collected which he was hoping would one day be valuable. That got me interested in this topic at an early age. We still have some of those coins even to this day. They are pretty worn, but as they are silver, thereis some value to them. I think we'll hang on to them though.


agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

A very interesting article. It makes collecting coins to be an interesting activity to do.


Donna Huebsch profile image

Donna Huebsch 4 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

I remember being fascinated by coins as a kid - I'll have to dig out my old penny coin book and see if there's anything valuable!


Alexander Brenner profile image

Alexander Brenner 4 years ago from Laguna Hills, California

Crazy, I always have friends telling this coin is worth so much this coin is invaluable. I never actually believe them ( how often can you really find invaluable coins?) but now perhaps ill start looking at those pennies a little close. Thanks for the heads up! (pun unintended)


ringlawncare profile image

ringlawncare 4 years ago from Stillwater MN

Ok I had no IDEA there were so many versions or types of pennies. All I know is I do save my loose change and like your reader "Shyron" I have some work to do. Thanks Mary! Thanks a lot for adding more to my plate..lol


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

I have a few coins to check. Very Interesting.


gogogo 4 years ago

Very interesting, never thought to check the pennies before


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

What a great hub Mary: one for me to vote up and bookmark.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Take care and enjoy yor day.

Eddy.


El Ray 4 years ago

I remember checking the coins I had in my pocket when I was growing up in NY. I did find 2 steel pennies and tried to keep them, but one day I was 2 pennies short at the local hobby shop. Oh well ... will start checking again.

Voted up + interesting!


Greenhousewife profile image

Greenhousewife 4 years ago

I find the Wheat Pennies all the time! I guess now I need to watch for those other coins as well. Thanks for the tips!


creativebutterfly profile image

creativebutterfly 4 years ago from Florida USA

Funny to-day I found in my purse a 1940 silver quarter found out it is worth around $5.00 :)


R9139 profile image

R9139 4 years ago

Very interesting topic, last summer when I was clearing out the basement in one of the old detached buildings on my land, which I believe used to be a brewery. I found several old coins in the floor. The buildings are listed and I think the earliest on my land dates to 1638, so there is no telling how old these coins are, they are just sat in my desk draw now. I never really thought about having them checked until now. They are not modern coins and no one had been in that basement at least in my lifetime. This has got me interested indeed, vote up!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Sadly, no valuable coins in my pocket. But thanks for having me look for them. Voting this Up and Useful.


Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet 4 years ago from Lancaster, Texas Author

thanks Lori... need to go through the penny jar myself


LoriSoard profile image

LoriSoard 4 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

Really solid article on what to look for before just tossing it into a coin jar or spending it. We run into wheat pennies still from time to time, so I'll be watching those closely.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working