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Rare coins you can find in change.

Updated on July 16, 2011
If you check your loose change you might find a rare and expensive coin!
If you check your loose change you might find a rare and expensive coin!

Rare coins you can find change.

If you have spare time at the end of the day, you may be able to find something of extra value in your pocket. Some rare coins are easy to identify, like pre-1965 half dollars, quarters, and dimes; which are all 90% silver. Or 1965 to 1970 half dollars, which are all 40% silver. These coins are worth much more than face value because of the rising price of silver (and have been for many decades). Equally easy to identify, but harder to authenticate, are presidential dollars that lack the inscription on the edge. A trip to a coin dealer or antique store may prove useful here.

Since these coins are easy to identify, most people will pick them out of change and save or sell them. There are other coins that require careful scrutiny, sometimes even a magnifying glass and good lighting. Since it only takes a few minutes to look through your change it would be well worth it to you if you find one of these rarities. If you start to look through your coins, a 10X magnifying glass is recommended. You'll want to have good light, and look at the coin from several angles, since the variations that I'm about to describe can be difficult to see. Once you become familiar with the different patterns and designs of the coins in circulation, it's a good idea to set aside anything that looks unusual and have a coin dealer or specialist look at it.

Silver coins.

With the rising price of silver, these coins are becoming even rarer than they were just five or 10 years ago. In all the time that I've been checking coins, I've only across two silver quarters. My father recently found a Mercury dime lying in the street. These coins are extremely uncommon yet some of them still find their way into circulation. This site will calculate the value of any United States coin for you. (

High content silver coins are relatively easy to identify. The date is a dead giveaway. Anything minted 1964 or before is 90% silver. Also, you can turn the coin on its edge and if there is no color variation there, like you will see on coins minted after 1964, then you know it's a silver coin. Additionally, you want to keep your eye out for half dollars minted between 1965 and 1970.

Presidential Dollar series.

In this series there is an inscription on the edge of the coin. There you find the date, the mint mark, and the motto "E. Pluribus Unum". On coins prior to 2009 you also find the words "In God We Trust". In 2009 this motto moved to the front of the coin. If you find any variation in the lettering on the edge it is a rarity. Some of these can be worth as much as $3000. Additionally, if you can afford it, uncirculated rolls of these dollars are likely to be a good investment. Uncirculated rolls of certain state quarters are already valued at $50 a piece.

1955 Doubled Die Penny.

This is perhaps the first modern rarity to gain popular recognition. There are many dates with doubled dies, which are produced due to a misalignment during production of the coins. With a magnifying glass or even the naked eye they can be spotted. What you are looking for is a faint outline around some part of the design that is usually not there. In this case, the “55” has an outline or shadow around it that is easy to spot. If you happen to catch one of these in change, it should be worth at least $300 and may be worth as much as $25,000 depending on the condition that it is in.

A few more doubled die dates to lookout for.

These happen from time to time because of a production error. Keep your eyes open for pennies with these dates: 1969 (S mint Mark), 1970 (S mint mark) and 1972 (with no mint mark). In what is called an extra fine grade (coins with very little) these coins are worth around $35,000, $3000 and $500 respectively. Find one of these, and you could buy a new Jacuzzi!

1943 copper penny.

In 1943, pennies were to be made of steel to help war effort. Over 684.5 million of them were made. At some point during that run, probably at the beginning, some copper pennies were made by mistake. They reached general circulation and were only recently discovered. One sold recently for $100,000. The easiest way to see if you have a 1943 copper penny is to see if it will stick to a magnet. Steel will, but copper won't. If you find one of these, you can buy a house for your Jacuzzi!

1965 silver dime.

While not as rare as the 1943 Penny, these coins will also bring in a premium. One recently sold for $9000. The way to spot the 1965 silver dime is to look at its edge. Most coins of this vintage will have a brown line running through the edge, that's the copper in it. These rare silver dimes don't.

Keep your eyes open you might get lucky.

Just by sorting through you change, with the aid of a magnifying glass, you might find one of these rare coins. If you really want to get into the hobby, there a couple of books that are recommended. The first is The Official Price Guide to Mint Errors by Alan Herbert. The second one is called Strike It Rich with Pocket Change by Ken Potter and Brian Allen. Strike It Rich with Pocket Change features photographs that make it easy to check if a coin you found is a rarity. It is written in an easy-to-understand style suitable for beginners. Besides the monetary value of coins that you collect, they are quite beautiful, and may also gain some sentimental value for you. I've found coins on rooftops, cleaning out rooms after people have left, and on the street. If you keep your eyes open, you never know you might find.

Finding rare coins.

Have you found a rare coin in change?

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