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Coin Collecting for Beginners

Updated on April 28, 2012

Coin Collecting

Ever wonder if the coins in your change are worth more then face value. Believe it or not you could be carrying around a dollar in change that is actually worth twenty or more. You just have to know what your looking for. I have been collecting coins for 20 years now. I started with a small collection from my parents and grandparents that sparked my interest in the hobby. My Great Grandfather served in WWII and a Great Uncle who served afterwards in various countries overseas. Both brought back old coins from places they visited. However you don't need an ancester to get you started. You can still find coins of value in everyday change. Here are some rare coins still in circulation that can be great for starting out coin collecting and maybe some of great rarity.

The first type of coin to keep an eye out for and one of the more commonly found is the wheat penny. I still find 2 or more of these every week. These were printed from 1909 to 1958 and can be identified because instead of the Lincoln Monument on the back it has two pieces of Wheat circling the side. The 1940's-1958 are more easily to come by and still bring me great joy to find one. Pre 1940's I find one every now and then and in great shape are worth a bit more. In 1943 World War 2 was in full swing and the metal was needed for the war effort so a great piece to have is the 1943 Steel Penny. These are not commonly found in change, I have only ever found 1 in circulation. Someone apparently had mistaken if for a dime because of the size and coloration of the steel it was wrapped in a dime roll. Other rare types of wheat pennies are the 1943 copper wheat penny because as I said the 1943 pennies were made of steel however a few made it through on copper blanks that were left behind. These can be worth upwards of a few thousand dollars. Also 1944 steel pennies again the steel blanks were left in and some were punched when they had switched back to copper pennies. Another thing to keep an eye out for on most any coins are error's which I will discuss further on.

The next semi common coin to find in change still is the Buffalo Nickel. These were printed from 1913 to 1938. In most cases that I have found these they tarnish very easy, and if they have been in circulation for nearly 100 years, a lot of the time the dates or buffs become worn or non visible. These coins have an Indian's head on the front and a Buffalo on the back. Some key coins to keep an eye out for in this series is the 1937-D 3 legged Buffalo, one of the buffalo's legs are missing. Another is in 1918 some coins were double struck showing 1917 and 1918 on the same coin so it looks like a 7 and 8 hit together.

Some coins to keep an eye out for of great value are silver coins and can be found rather commonly in change. These include quarters, dimes and half dollars prior to 1964. They contain 90% silver and sell for what ever silver is going for. However a lesser known fact is Half Dollars still contained silver until 1970 only 40% though. These sell very well perhaps because most buyers just buy for the silver content.

Some other coins not as easily to find in change include the Mercury Dime (1916-1945), Indian Head Penny (1859-1909), Eisenhower Dollar Coins (1971-1978), Peace Dollar (1921-1935 and 1964), Susan B. Anthony Dollar (1979-1981 and 1999), Sacagawea Dollar (2000-Present) and Presidential Dollar Coins (2007-Present). Dollar coins are less seldom found in change because most of the population uses the Paper Dollar. However most banks do carry dollar coins in most cases they have Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea and Presidential coins. You can also get Half Dollar coins easily from the bank, just ask at your local branch.

There is another option for collecting coins not as valuable but provides a more sentimental value. These can include foreign coins, modified coins such as counter stamped coins where an image or words are etched into the coin after leaving the Mint. There is also different collector coins which are numerous in variations, some that I have are Olympic coins from a cereal, replica coins, I also prefer to collect war time coins from around 1939-1945 from numerous countries. But every person will have there own personal preferences.

Finally Error Coins these have the chance of being worth a lot and very few people know what to look for in these. There are so many variations and no real way to track all of them cause any coin can contain errors. Some make the coin worth just a bit more and some errors can make the coin worth in the hundreds of thousands. Errors can be anything from a mistruck coin where the chip wasn't properly lined up when it was struck. This can leave a smooth area along one side with part of the coin missing. I have found one, a regular penny, with only the top of lincolns head showing with no date, and part of the monument missing. Another error is when the coin is double struck. A good way to describe it is when you look at it, it looks like its in 3d. One image is slightly more in the foreground and one behind it. Other errors include the coin missing metals, missing the ridges on the side, missing date, and die errors. But if you ever have a question about one your best bet is to research it.

As for some tips to start finding them first always check your change. Another way is when you cash your payroll check ask the teller to give you an old penny roll or two, this is always a good way to find some. I have opened a penny roll before that all fifty pennies were wheat. But on average I find 2 to 3 wheat pennies in about 3 rolls. And you can always ask your local bank teller if they happen to have any change your interested in.


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