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Collecting Coins From Pocket Change: A Place To Start

Updated on February 21, 2017


What's in your pocket?
What's in your pocket?

Finding Coins

Are you new to coin collecting? Wondering where to start? Look no further, read on and learn where the easiest place to get coins for your collection is.

I'm sure you have looked at the change in your pocket and noticed that one of them just doesn't look the same as others. You pick it out and realize you have just found a wheat penny. Congratulations you just figured out where the easiest place is to find coins for your new collection! The change you receive everyday can potentially hold a new addition to your collection.

This is how I started collecting many years ago. I found a few "wheaties" in my change and saved them back. I was fascinated by the differences in coins from various years. I didn't know exactly why they were different, but still thought it curious enough to save.

Alright back to the pocket change. So you've found a few wheat cents, that's great. Don't really expect to find too much more in your change. In this day and age most of the old coinage is already out of circulation. Someone before has noticed a "different" coin and already picked it out. Most likely you are finding the coins that people finally let go of. I used to have a huge amount of wheat pennies. Then realized that I don't actually need them all. So I went through them and only kept the ones I needed, one of each date and mint mark. (I'll get to that part later)

If you ever find a silver coin in your change (30% silver nickels 1942-1945, 90% silver dimes all pre 1964, 90% silver quarters all pre1964, 90% silver half-dollars all pre 1964 and 40% silver half-dollars 1965-1970, 90% silver dollars all pre 1964) then consider yourself EXTREMELY lucky. Most people now a days take their change to an automated coin counting machine, either in a store or at a bank, and get their change turned into dollars. It is during this process that any silver coinage still out there gets found. These new machines being used reject silver coins and they end up in the change return slot. The person turning in their change notices the coin and takes a look at it to see why it came back, they notice it looks just a little different, just a little more shiny then the rest and realize it's a silver coin. Now that coin is part of their collection and out of circulation.

Don't let this information get you discouraged, I'm not saying it's impossible to find silver change, it's just very rare. I myself have found silver coinage and trust me once I realized what I had it was out of circulation for good. One way these silver coins get out there is when someone is in desperate need of something and all they have left are those coins they have been holding onto. They probably know they are silver, but there need for a necessity out way their need for saving the coin. So they take them to the store and buy what they need and whoever is lucky enough to get those coins back in their change are the new owners. (let's hope that's you!) Another way is kind of the same philosophy, but instead of an adult knowingly doing it, it's a child unknowingly doing it. They have a craving for some candy, have no money, but know where their parents keep a stash of coins. They don't know exactly why their parents are keeping them, but at the moment they don't really care. They take those coins and head to the store. Now the coins are in circulation and ready to be picked up by someone else. (you maybe?)

A couple of coins that you will most likely never find in your change are indian head pennies and buffalo nickels. This is simply because they look so different from the rest that they have gotten picked out long ago. I have found one indian in my change before and have a friend that found a buffalo. So it's not completely impossible, but very rare. On a side note, I once found a barber dime laying on the ground at a Walmart, had to be the single most exciting find I've made.

To make looking and organizing your coins easier, invest in some coin books. These can be easily ordered online using eBay, Amazon, or any of the many coin related sites out there, or check out your local coin shop. As you find new coins put them in your book so you know what you have. If you happen to find a coin that you already have (same date and mint mark) look at them both closely and keep the one that is in better condition (least amount of wear, little or no scratches, etc.). The one you don't want to keep put back into circulation and let someone else find it. Unless it's a silver coin then keep it in a special spot, you can sell it for the silver content or to another collector.

So I have talked about finding old coins in your change, now it's time to talk about modern coins. Yes part of being a collector is having old and new coinage. This is the easy part of collecting. Again it is best to get some coin books to keep track of what you have. In the beginning take out all the coins you need. This will be a lot since there have been so many coins minted. As with the older coins, when you get a double keep only the better condition coin.

Most new coin collectors don't think to save newer coins, all they are interested in are the old ones. What you have to realize is that in the future these new coins you are collecting will turn into old coins and you wont have to worry about trying to find them.

Alright so you I hope after reading this you will take a look at the change you receive after every purchase. You never know what you might find. One thing I must reiterate is that you will probably not find any rare or valuable coins, but the ones you do find will be a great starting point. It is from here that you can branch off and get the rarer harder to find ones using other means. Another point I would like to make is that you will not get rich doing this. A lot of people have the assumption that just because they have some old coins that they are all valuable and worth a lot of money. These rare and valuable coins are going to cost you and I can almost guarantee you will never find one, that's why they are rare and valuable. In the beginning collect coins for the fun of it, make it a hobby. Later down the road you can get further into it.

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