Change For The Better

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The simplest way of finding valuable coins is by checking the ones in your pocket. This takes only a few moments, and occasionally you’ll come across an old or intriguing coin worth saving. It’s a great feeling when you get one. However, this is definitely the “driving in the slow lane” method of finding special coins.

A much quicker way is to search through rolls of coins. Simply remove the coins from their wrappers and turn them on their sides. Silver coins will stand out, as their color is white-ish, in sharp contrast to the gold-ish color on the rims of all the others.

At the very least, those coins will have value for their silver content, but with any luck they will also have a numismatic appeal. Bear in mind that once silver coins are melted they are gone forever. In other words, the supply is decreasing steadily.


Once In A While

If you go through enough rolls of coins you will find a few that are silver – with emphasis on a few. One coin enthusiast who goes through many hundreds of dollars’ worth of coins regularly estimated that on average he found about one silver coin per box of $250 of coins – occasionally getting lucky and finding several, but offsetting that are dry spells where not even one turns up.

As you go through these coins, also keep an eye out for mint or near-mint coins. They can be recognized easily because of their exceptional shine. And since they are in close-to-perfect condition they may be valuable now or are candidates for becoming valuable at some time in the future.

Banks usually don’t give boxes of coins for the asking, so your best chance of getting those is by dealing with one where you have an account. Establishing a pleasant relationship with the tellers there also will improve your chances.

If you do get the rolls you want, have searched through hundreds or thousands of coins, and were lucky enough to find a few made of silver, your work is far from over; in fact, it’s just beginning.

That’s because you probably will want to convert all those hundreds or thousands of other coins back to dollars. Some banks and large stores have coin-counting machines, but usually there is a fee for using them. By the way, when handling stacks of coins wear gloves, because there is a surprising amount of dirt and grime (translation: germs) on them. Skeptics need only check the fingertips of their gloves, which will have become soiled after going through just a few rolls.


Mining For Silver Coins

Silver and other valuable coins turn up in the most unusual places. Many people find coins using metal detectors in remote areas or by asking homeowners in old residential neighborhoods for permission to metal detect on their property.

Searching under the cushions of old couches and chairs long ago banished to the attic can also pay off handsomely. Old, rare, and silver coins are sold at garage sales and flea markets – sometimes at bargain prices. 

People also buy rare silver coins on eBay. Collectors keep those, but wheeler-dealer types “flip” them, buying them at bargain prices and quickly selling them for small profits. Then they use those profits to buy more coins. Ultimately, they end up owning a few coins for which in effect they have not paid a cent. This is time-consuming and takes effort, but then again, a bargain is a bargain.


Phony Baloney

If you’re serious about buying silver coins, be aware that some are fake, so when possible test them before purchasing. A quick way of doing this is with a magnet; a magnetic coin is not silver. Small cracks, tiny holes the size of a pencil point or very small areas that are eroded also may be signs the coin is fake. On others, copper coloring shows through the silver finish – something that never happens to a real silver coin. It’s said that some “CC” silver dollars (minted in Carson City) are fakes. Some gold coins, too, are nothing more than authentic-looking counterfeits.


Hitting The Jackpot

It’s not only old coins that are valuable; even very modern ones can be worth far above their face value. As a generality, all 2009 coins have low mintage – nickels and dimes in particular. The 2009 dime, graded “68” (which is near perfect), is worth $11, while the 2009-D in the same condition goes for $13. Finding one will not bring you a great fortune, but it’s certainly nice anyway.

Exactly what does low mintage mean? The numbers speak for themselves. In 2006, nearly 1.4 billion dimes were minted in Philadelphia – but only 96.5 million dimes were minted there in 2009. And 1.5 billion 2006-D dimes were minted in Denver that year – way more than the 50 million 2009-D dimes minted there.

Another coin worth looking for is the 2009-D Jefferson nickel. In mint condition it had been selling for as much as $175 (it goes for about $125 now). Less than 40 million nickels were minted in Philadelphia in 2009. And only 48 million 2009-Ds were minted; this is just 1/10-1/20th of the number minted in the three preceding years.


The “Look” Of Music

Also, keep an eye out for the 2009-D double die reverse District of Columbia quarter, which honors jazz legend Duke Ellington. Some of these coins have very strong remnants of “ELL” below Duke Ellington’s name; the left sides of these three letters are far longer than they should be. 

A double die coin is one which has accidentally been struck twice. When this happens, there is a significant overlap between the strikes, but not a perfect one, so some part of the image, letters, and/or numbers appear twice – the second one practically on top of the first but not quite exactly. Depending on condition, the 2009 Duke Ellington quarter is worth between $500 and $4,500. 

Of course, some coins minted in other years also are valuable. The 1976-D double die bi-centennial quarter could be worth $350, but possibly as much as $1,750 if it’s in perfect condition. And the 1971 Philadelphia double die reverse quarter may be worth much more. Nickels also can bring big bucks; the 2005-D speared buffalo nickel is worth between $140 and $1,250.

There is a great deal to know about coins, and this article doesn’t even scratch the surface of the subject. Those interested in learning more about this hobby can do so by getting information from the library, coin magazines, and of course from the net. 

Just one other point: If you are thinking about collecting coins, handle them very carefully. Never wash them with steel wool or slide them across a table top because that will scratch them and lower their value. Keep coins you want to save in albums, which are inexpensive, but will protect them and enable you to see at a glance the ones you already have in your collection and which are still missing.

To serious collectors, coins are worth much more than their monetary value. Coins, particularly old ones, are in a way “survivors” – the last remnants of long-ago eras that will never return. We can only imagine all the places these coins have been to over the years, and the different people who once owned them.


Sources: You Tube: Rare Modern Coins Worth Money – Valuable Coins In Pocket Change; Spotting FAKE Morgan Dollars; 10 Common Coins Worth Money In Your Pocket Change 0 –Valuable Coins to Look For; Top 10 places you didn’t think of looking for silver coins or rare bank notes.;

By Gerald Harris