ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Are There Valuable Coins in Your Pocket?

Updated on January 5, 2012
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

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.


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.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • TycoonSam profile image


      6 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

      Kawika Chann 

      6 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 

      6 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.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great reminder to value coins. Good hub!

    • zylla3philippines profile image


      6 years ago from Anaheim, CA

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

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 

      6 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

    • profile image


      6 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


      6 years ago from Indonesia

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

    • Donna Huebsch profile image

      Donna Fairley Huebsch 

      6 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 

      6 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


      6 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

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I have a few coins to check. Very Interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting, never thought to check the pennies before

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 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.


    • profile image

      El Ray 

      6 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


      6 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


      6 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


      6 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


      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

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

    • LoriSoard profile image


      6 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.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)