Experts Explain How To Assess Whether Your Old Coins or Bills Are Actually of Value

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Coin collecting, sometimes called numismatics, can be more than a hobby for some. It can be a money-making investment. The same goes for collecting, saving or reselling old paper money.

Even if you aren’t an avid collector, you could have a stash of old bills or coins that could be worth more than their face value. But it’s not always easy to tell which old coins or bills are actually worth more than the money amount printed on them.

“The answer is not always obvious,” Dustin Johnson, Vice President of Numismatics at Heritage Auctions, told Nexstar Media Wire in an article published by The Hill. However, there are some clues you can look for.

Wheat Pennies

Pennies showing wheat on the tail side could be worth more money than one cent, but not all are. It has to do with the placement of the date next to Abraham Lincoln’s head on the other side. If you find one that was never circulated, it could be worth $1,500, according to The Hill.

Bills with Oddities in their Serial Numbers

One $20 bill with a serial number printed atop (not below) a Del Monte fruit sticker sold for $400,000 at an auction in 2021.

If you happen to find a serial number “1” bill or currency with a solid serial number (all the same number in a row), you might be able to sell it for hundreds or even thousands. Only one out of every 11 million banknotes printed have a chance to be a solid serial number, according to

Make Your Money Work Better for You

The higher the serial number, the more money you might get for it, since not all bills are printed to full capacity each print run. Solid serial numbers of all 8s and all 9s can sell for thousands. All 9s are especially rare since money today is only printed up to serial number 96000000.

If the solid serial number begins and ends with the same letter, it might command more money. As with most collectibles, the better the condition of the rare bill, the more money you can make.

Bills or Coins with Printing Errors

If you come across a bill with a different denomination on the front than on the back (or even a printing error where the denomination shows up twice), it could be worth far more than its face value.

Likewise, coins with printing errors can often fetch thousands of dollars with collectors. Errors emerge due to die faults and die errors that lead to mistakes when the coin is cast. For instance, a 1942 Mercury dime was accidentally cast using a 1941 die. The dime sold for $3,990 in 2023 on eBay. In 2018, a coin with the same error in better condition sold for $120,000.

High Denomination Notes

You’d probably love to find a $500, $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 bill, even if it only held the value assigned on its face. However, this higher denomination cash is very rare, as these denominations were only printed through 1945 and issued through 1969, according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve website.

A $10,000 bill sold for $456,000 in 2021, the highest value ever commanded for such a note, according to Heritage Auctions.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Older $2 Bills

People often have $2 bills tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Kids often feel special receiving such a note from a beloved relative, because they are fairly rare and you don’t see many in circulation. But are they really worth more than $2?

It depends. Any $2 bill printed after 1976 won’t be worth more than $2, even in excellent condition. However, $2 bills printed between 1862 and 1918 can be worth $50 in well-circulated condition and $500 or more in mint condition. If you come across an uncirculated $2 bill, it could be worth $1,000 or more, according to

Final Note

If you’re looking to free up some extra cash, it might be worth it to look through your piggy bank or stacks of bills to see if you have anything that may hold more value than you think. Before you try to sell old coins or bills, take them to a numismatics professional such as Heritage Auctions to help you determine their true condition and value.

You might just have a windfall tucked away in a drawer that you can save or, in a worst-case scenario, sell for extra cash.

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