Is There A Fortune Hidden in Your Spare Change?

Occasionally, you’ll read about someone who uncovered a rare Picasso in their aunt’s barn or discovered an authentic piece of Revere-ware in a dumpster. Public-interest stories like these send many of us scurrying up to the attic or creeping into the crevices of our basement in search of that old box of keepsakes that we inherited but never bothered to investigate carefully. Though these cases are rare, there is one way that you could have a small fortune right in you own pocket and not even be aware of it: coins.

Many of us consider change nothing more than a nuisance; it’s good for parking meters and vending machines, but not much else. People think even less of pennies, often tossing them into a jar – or even the trash – without giving them a second look. There are generally two types of coins that accumulate value beyond what’s stamped on their face: rare (ancient) coins and minting errors, like coins that are double-stamped. There are, however, common, everyday coins that are currently in circulation that are very collectible, and they’re expected to increase in value.

What Determines Value?

Although most people think ‘old’ when they think valuable, there have been quite a few valuable coins minted in the past 100 years or so. Value is determined by the condition of the coin, graded from unreleased to poor, the metal content and market demand. Rarity is also a factor, as with limited release coins during war-time or other instances when shortages forced alternate materials to be used in the minting process.

Other than your pocket or piggy bank, a good source for potential collectible coins is your local bank. Simply go down and buy a few rolls and check them out. Some of the most valuable coins currently in circulation are:

– Lincoln wheat pennies (minted from 1909 – 1958; the 1909 and 1939 S, all 1922s, and 1914-D are worth several hundred dollars each )

– Jefferson wartime nickels (minted from 1942 – 1945; look for the mint mark over the dome of Monticello; worth $1.50 each)

– Roosevelt dimes (minted from 1946 – 1964; uncirculated dimes are worth up to $5)

– Washington quarters (minted from 1932 – 1964; 1932-D and S coins are worth up to $300 a piece)

– Kennedy half-dollars (minted from 1964 – 1970; worth $6)

Very few of these are expected to turn up at a private auction or buy a private jet, but with luck and a little bit of knowledge, you could begin to build a substantial collection in a very short time. Even if you don’t become the next special interest story or instant millionaire, you will learn a lot and have a little bit of history to pass on to your loved ones.

Coin collecting is fun, but it can also become a lucrative investment if you learn the ropes and proceed wisely. Commemorative releases, like the London Mint Office giveaway and various U.S. Mint promotions, are sometimes a good way to grab limited-edition coins that will become collectible in the future due to their special nature and short-term, private release. As with any new venture, you should learn as much about the subject as possible and try to deal only with reputable companies and individuals. You can learn more about collectible and rare coins from a variety of online sources and collectible communities.