In addition to hoarding wealth, privileged classes began collecting coins for their artistic or historical value centuries ago. Coin collecting and the study of currency, or numismatics, have been popular pastimes throughout the years, both here and abroad.
Many Americans remain hobbyists at heart, but some look to older currency as an investment, collected as a pursuit to profit. Regardless of motivation, coins worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, won’t turn up when you turn out your pockets or upend your couch cushions.
However, there are coins still in circulation that hold high value. The following five coins still in circulation can be discovered anywhere in the U.S., but the five rare U.S. state quarters below will certainly be easier to find in their home states.
The 5 Most Valuable U.S. Coins Still in Circulation
There are plenty of valuable coins still in circulation today. Vintage is important, but coins worth real money are those minted with errors in small batches and double dies (basically a misaligned striking of a coin, resulting in a duplicate image) that are hard to recognize at first glance. The following valuable coins can be found anywhere, even in your pocket.
1943 Lincoln Head Copper Penny – According to a U.S. Mint press release, this rare coin is one of the most coveted among collectors as only 40 copper-alloy cents are known to remain in existence (all other pennies from this time were struck in zinc-coated steel because copper and nickel were needed for the Allied war effort). The estimated value of this coin is $10,000, but the highest amount paid for a 1943 copper cent was $82,500 in 1996.
1955 Doubled Die Penny – Most of these 1955 20,000 pennies were distributed as change from cigarette vending machines. Doubling on the numbers and letters means these are worth around $1,800 a piece.
1969-S Lincoln Cent with Doubled Die Obverse – Worth upwards of $126,000 in near-perfect condition, according to Invaluable, there are less than 100 authentic examples of this Lincoln Cent, but lots of counterfeits.
1982 No Mint Mark Roosevelt Dime – Mint marks are letters on coins that identify where they were made (“P” for Philadelphia, “D” for Denver, etc.), but this 1982 dime is missing a mint mark. Not significantly valuable ($30 to $300, depending on condition), they are still worth way more than their face value.
2005-D 5C Speared Bison Jefferson Nickel – If you come across a 2005 nickel with what appears to be a spear running through the back of a buffalo, hold on to it tight. Invaluable says that you should be able to get $400 for one if it’s of a certain condition. However, one sold at an auction for $1,265 in 2010, per Invaluable.
5 Valuable U.S. State Quarters
From 1999 to 2008, the U.S. Mint struck special quarters unique to each state, with Washington’s mug on the flip side. At least 400 million quarters were issued for each state but some state quarters are more sought after by collectors than others due to numbers minted.
For example, Virginia state quarters are the most common, with the Mint stamping more than 1.6 billion of them. The hardest state quarters to find are Oklahoma (416.6 million minted), Maine (448.8 million), Wisconsin (453.2), Missouri (453.2 million) and Alabama (457.4 million), according to The Hill.
Still, these “rarities” are only worth near their face value. Uncirculated rolls of quarters can net you around $30, but some state quarters minted with different materials or with errors can fetch thousands from auction houses, including these five, per CoinValueChecker:
1999-P Experimental Delaware State Quarter – At the turn of the century, the U.S. Mint tried out different alloys in advance of casting the 2000 Sacagawea dollar in small quantities, making them unusually rare (a high-graded example was sold for $4,888 at auction).
2003-D Maine State Quarter – This coin isn’t particularly difficult to find, but its value stems from the difficulty of finding one in mint condition. Heritage Auctions sold an exceptional example of this coin for $2,300 in 2017.
2000-P South Carolina State Quarter – Again, this coin is rare to find in near-perfect condition, which makes it rare. Less than 500 have been graded and certified at MS-69 (no more than two small non-detracting contact marks or flaws, per The Spruce Crafts).
2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter (Extra Leaf Low) – The “extra low leaf” version is worth so much (around $1,500) due to an extra leaf added, some say intentionally, to the left of the ear of corn.
1999-P Connecticut State Quarter – A “broadstruck” factory error makes this state quarter worth about a hundred times its face value at $25.
The Most Valuable Historic U.S. Coins
And just in case you come across a centuries-old sofa, make sure to lift those cushions and check for these five most valuable U.S. coins from the past. According to Invaluable, most of them will make you an instant millionaire.
1794 Flowing Hair Dollar – The first silver dollar struck by the U.S. Mint was sold for $10 million in 2013
1913 Liberty Head Nickle – 2013 was a good year for auctioned coins. Only five of these coins are known to exist and the last one sold did so for $3.1 million.
1870-S Seated Liberty Dollar – Last sold for $1.3 million in 2008, this coin has no official record of being produced, though 11 have been traced.
1927-D St Gaudens Double Eagle – When President Roosevelt recalled all gold coins in 1933, about 180,000 Double Eagles were in circulation. Today, there exists 11 to 15 in collectors’ hands.
1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar – The New Orleans mint was the first to produce silver coins, striking only 20 of this particular piece. Nine are known to exist today.
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