“If only I would have known,” are famous last words. Usually they are said when someone has lost alot of money. When it comes to coin collecting, not knowing definitely means you are going to lose money. The coins in your pocket are a prime example. Do you know the difference between a 2000 type 1 and type 2 penny? The difference is about $10. Thats not a bad return on a penny.
At a minimum you need a magnifying glass to see a coins detail. It would be better if you had a jewelers loop. A jeweler’s loop will provide the perfect amount of magnification. The one I use is 17 X power. You can buy one of these at a hobby shop or a coin dealer.
The coins in your pocket change are going to be mostly modern. A good price book will help you separate the common coins from those older coins that are worth more than face value. With modern coinage you will be looking for errors and varieties. Any year and mint-mark can have coins that are worth more than face value. You can eliminate alot of coins if you only search the years that have well know varieties and errors.
A coin variety is a change of design during the year. The valuable ones are not done on purpose and are often short lived. A good example of a coin variety are the pennies of 1982. In 1982 you can look for all of these: copper -1982 small date; 1982 and 1982-D large date : Copper plated Zinc-1982 and 1982-D small date; 1982 and 1982-D large date. That is seven varieties. At this time none of these are worth more than face value in circulated condition. The Zinc 1982 small date is a good candidate to hoard. There a chance that these will go up in value in the future.
The 1960 and 1960-D pennies have large and small dates also. The small dates on this year are the rare coins for this year. The 1960 small date should be kept in any shape.
A more valuable coin variety is the 2000 type 2 penny. This variety was caused by mistakingly using a proof style reverse on a few coins. The difference that is easiest to spot is the AM in America. On the common reverse the bottom of the AM are touching. The bottom is separated on the rare variety. There are other minor differences between the common and rare types. The 2000 Ty 2 should sell for about $10 in average circulated condition.
A similar variety exists on the 1998 and 1999 pennies. They both have type 1 and 2 reverses. The rare ones are the same as 2000 pennies. They are more valuable than the 2000 ones, so therefor they are harder to find. The 1998 type 2 should sell for between $15 and $25. The 1999 type 2 should sell for more than $30 even uncirculated condition.
!992-D penny has a type 2 reverse as well. This time the rare penny has the AM touching. The common type for the year has the A M separated . The mint changed the reverse in the year 1993. By mistake some 1993 reverse dies were used at the Denver Mint in 1992.
Another coin type that pops up once in a while is silver coinage. These were made prior to 1965 for dimes and quarters. Any dime or quarter dated 1964 or earlier should be kept. The easiest silver coins to find are half Dollars. Kennedy Half Dollars 1970 and earlier should be kept. It is amazing how many of these are still circulating. While at the bank look at the tellers coin tray. If any of the half dollars have a white edge, BUY it. Sometimes you will get lucky and get a Franklin Half Dollar. Those will sell for at least $3. That is why I always go in the bank to deposit my check.
An error is a mistake in the minting process. Double dies, off center strikes,clipped coins and filled dies are a few examples of error coins. These are harder to find than varieties. Finding these requires more knowledge. A good error book like “Cherrypickers” or an on-line error coinage website will have pictures. The problem with the minor errors they highlight is that there is not much market for them. Some years have more than 20 different minor doubled dies. For that reason I only concentrate on the more well known errors. If I happen on a minor one I set it aside for the future.
Common errors include filled dies and die clashes. A filled die coin is one that was struck with dirty dies. Part of the design will be filled in, usually by grease. The resulting coin will be missing some part of its design or lettering. A coin with a die clash is one that was struck with dies that came together with no coin in between them. The resulting coin will have marks from both dies on each side of the coin.
Another common error is an off center coin. This happens when one side is struck normally and the other is off. Minor examples of this are worth only face value. If the off center side is 10 percent off or more then the coin will be worth more than face value.
Rotated dies happen. This is when the reverse of the coin is not aligned with the front. Again the value depends on the amount of rotation. These are not very common.
Unique errors are errors that happen to only one coin. The values on these vary wildly depending on the severity and collectivity of the coin. A double struck or clipped coin are examples of these. A double struck coin is different from a doubled die. A double struck coin is one that was not ejected after the first strike and restruck. A clipped coin is one that is missing part of it. These both can be valuable.
Doubled mint-marks are a more valuable type of error. The old way to apply the mint mark to a coins die was to strike it with a hammer and punch. It took more than one strike with a hammer. If the punch was not aligned perfectly then two mint marks show on the coin. There is alot of these in the Lincoln cent series. But you can find them on any denomination.
Over mint-marks happened when either a D was struck over a S or vise versa. These are highly collectible and happened on earlier dates. It is still possible to find them in circulation however unlikely. My coin price book lists these Jefferson’s 1949 D/S, 1954 S/D,and 1955 D/S.
The most popular and valuable type of error that you can find in circulation are doubled dies. A doubled die is a coin that has a doubled image on it. It happens when the die itself is doubled. All parts of the coin can be doubled but usually it is only part of it and usually only on one side. On modern circulating coinage you can find some valuable doubled dies. Most of them are on the penny and the state quarters.
Pennies to look for include the 1972 doubled die. There are several different doubled dies in 1972 that sell for $5 or more. One is the grand-daddy of all modern coinage. It has major doubling on all front lettering and the date. If you find one of these it is best to get it certified. A coin dealer can help you with that. It is worth well over $100.
Other pennies to look for include the1983 doubled die reverse. All the lettering on the reverse has major doubling. This can be worth $75 and up. The 1984 penny has some with a doubled ear. This is another good one. It will also sell for more than $75. The 1995 penny has a doubled die obverse. The word LIBERTY is doubled. It will sell for $25. Pennies dated 1997 have some with a doubled ear. These are worth $10 or more.
The state quarters have many doubled die coins. There are to many to attempt to list. The best way to find these is to check out a variety and error website that has pictures. The errors on these coins are often minor like a doubled finger or extra branch on a tree.
The new presidential dollar coins have edge lettering. Check these carefully. Some are missing the lettering completely. Some are double struck on the edge. These are very valuable.
Common places to look for errors on modern coins are the lettering along the edges and the dates. Look at the ears and eyes on the obverse. Any coin could have an error on it not just the ones I listed. Collecting coins with errors or varieties is an interesting and potentially profitable hobby. If you find a good one you could turn a penny into a couple hundred dollars. Now that is a good investment.