Many circumstances can lead to the printing of a rare and valuable coin, including misaligned presses, wartime metal switches, or production errors. While the valuable coins you find in your purse won’t buy you a nice vacation, they can still be worth significantly more than face value. Here are a few valuable coins that could be hiding in your pocket change.
To help the war effort in 1943, manufacturers made pennies with steel instead of copper. This only lasted a year, so steel 1943 pennies have value of up to a few dollars apiece.
But the few 1943 copper pennies have even greater value. Professional numismatists (or rare coin experts) estimate that around 40 of these pennies exist, but they’ve only confirmed about a dozen. One of these pennies was sold in 2008 for over a hundred thousand dollars.
America has hundreds of millions of wheat pennies in circulation. Any penny dated from 1909 to 1958 features the wheat design, and most of them are worth around a dollar apiece.
A few wheat pennies, however, appear rarely. These include the 1922 plain penny, which has a missing letter D in the mint mark, and 1955 double die cents, each worth hundreds. We’ll discuss double die coins later on.
Wide AM Pennies
Wide AM pennies come from three years: 1998, 1999, and 2000, with 1999 representing the rarest year. On a normal penny, the A and the M in “America” almost touch. In these rare pennies, the M looks centered between the A and the E. This makes the AM in America stand further apart from the other letters than normal.
The FG signature (the designer’s initials) on the back of the penny also appears closer to the Lincoln Memorial Building than normal.
Extra Leaf 2004 Wisconsin Quarters
The Wisconsin quarter design entered circulation in 2004, in the middle of the fifty-state run. The design features a partially shucked ear of corn in the background. An accidental extra line on some of these quarters makes it look like the ear of corn has an additional leaf.
The Extra Leaf coin comes in two varieties: the Low Leaf and the High Leaf. In the Low Leaf design, the extra leaf looks lower than in the High Leaf quarters. The value of these coins varies from $20 to $300.
Kennedy Silver Half Dollars
After John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, manufacturers made a remarkably rapid design change. Silver half dollars with Kennedy’s profile entered circulation by 1964. For a year, these coins consisted of 90% silver. For five years after that, they consisted of 40% silver.
To find out the worth of your silver coins, have an expert check their silver content.
Lettering Errors Presidential Dollar Coins
The United States Mint started printing dollar coins featuring presidents starting in 2007. A number of these coins have lettering errors around their edges. Sometimes the lettering appears twice (giving a “doubled” look), and sometimes letters are missing entirely. Any part of the lettering could be doubled or missing.
These errors occur most often on Washington dollar coins, which can have a value of thousands of dollars.
Double Die Coins
Double die coins happen when a press becomes misaligned during production. The resulting double printing makes elements of the design look blurred or repeated depending on the press’ misalignment.
Most of the time the defect only affects lettering, but sometimes it is part of the image. Some double die coins include pennies from 1969, 1970, 1972, 1984, 1995, and 1997, as well as dimes from 1946.
In 2001, a series of quarters were double struck, meaning these coins have two overlapped images of Washington on the front and two images of the Statue of Liberty on the back.
These are only a few of the coins you may find in your pocket change. It might even be worth checking under your couch cushions for spare change-you never know what rarities you’ll find.
And once you find these coins, don’t let them go to waste. Visit your local pawn shop to learn how to turn a profit on your rare coins.