Picture the scene: after you walk into a store and pay with cash, you leave the building and realize that you’ve been given an out-of-date coin with your change. In most cases, you’d then probably go on to throw the antiquated penny, nickel or dime away. But it may actually be worth more than you think to hang on to these pieces of currency. And if they’re one of these 40 coins, you could even be sitting on a small fortune.
40. Lincoln Memorial Cent
In 1972 the U.S. Mint released into circulation a special cent that featured Abraham Lincoln’s profile. Unfortunately, though, it was soon discovered that the coin had a glaring mistake: the inscription above and to the side of Honest Abe had been doubled. But while the error may have been embarrassing at the time, the 1972 Lincoln Memorial Cent Doubled Die Obverse has since become a sought-after item for coin-hunters. Incredibly, one even sold for $14,400 in a 2019 auction.
39. Roosevelt Dime
During the 1980s, the Philadelphia Mint printed the letter “P” on all dimes in order to denote their place of origin. That is, except for one coin bearing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s image, which was circulated without any discerning marks. The result of an absent-minded mint worker, the Roosevelt Dime, 1982-P MS has since sold for as high as $1,500.
38. “Double Ear” Lincoln Penny
When printing images of U.S. presidents on their coins, minters should arguably be striving to create as flattering likenesses as possible. Sadly, though, this wasn’t the case in the late 1990s, when the U.S. Mint created a penny of one particular American leader that saw him sporting a doubled-up ear lobe. Still, owing to this strange discrepancy, the 1997 “Double Ear” Lincoln Penny coin can now fetch as much as $250.
37. Kansas “In God We Rust” State Quarter
Spelling is everything – especially when it comes to putting your country’s motto on a coin. Unfortunately, a spillage of grease during the minting of this state quarter led to the apt typo “In God We Rust” being printed instead. As the coins are still in circulation, copies of the so-called 2005-P Kansas “In God We Rust” State Quarter are generally worth around $5 at most. Nevertheless, some high-grade examples could each earn $100.
36. Wisconsin 50 States and Territories Quarter
Starting in 1999, the U.S. Mint began releasing quarters themed around the nation’s 50 states. When the time came for Wisconsin to have its day in the spotlight, however, eagle-eyed natives of the Badger State noted a printing error. In some cases, you see, the emblem of a corn cob on the coin features an additional leaf. And if you have a 2004 D Wisconsin 50 States and Territories Quarter: Extra Leaf Low Variety, you could make as much as $1,500.
35. Connecticut Broadstruck Indent State Quarter
A rare occurrence in currency production, a broadstrike is an indent that occurs on a coin when another piece of money gets in the way of printing. And one such example is the awkwardly named 1999 P Connecticut Broadstruck Indent State Quarter 25c Mint Error BU, which features a notable dent obstructing the word “State.” Don’t just give this particular coin away in your change, though, as it has previously sold for up to $100.
34. 3-1/2 Leg Buffalo Nickel
There are few American animals more iconic than the buffalo. Often symbols of the old West, these beasts have been used in the logos of many U.S. institutions and have even graced several coins. Somewhat regrettably, though, a misprinted nickel made during WWI depicted the majestic animal with stunted legs – and it’s become sought after ever since. In fact, one variant, known convolutedly as the 1916-D 3-1/2 Leg Buffalo Nickel PCGS XF-40 (FS-901), was sold on eBay for nearly $450.
33. Jefferson Speared Bison
All throughout U.S. history, the American bison has been hunted for its meat. Fittingly, then, a five cent piece from 2005 accidentally made reference to this fate, as it featured an apparent spear running through a stamp of the creature’s body. Caused by a crack in the printing process, this anomaly has made the 2005 P Jefferson Speared Bison worth up to $1,000 at auction.
32. John Adams Presidential Dollar
If you believe that money is the root of all evil, then the 2007 PCGS MS65 John Adams Presidential Dollar Error Coin may not do anything to dissuade you. You see, the phrase “In God We Trust” was omitted – some say on purpose – from these pieces. And, ironically, this apparent error makes the sacrilegious coins more valuable, as they can each fetch up to $150 online.
31. Lincoln Memorial Cent
Generally, it seems that the staff working at the U.S. Mint have their art down to a tee. Sometimes, though, even the most precise people can get something wrong. And that was the case in the late 1990s, when the Mint released two erroneous batches of Lincoln Memorial Cents that saw the “AM” in “AMERICA” spaced either too far apart or too closely together. What’s more, as the 1999 Lincoln Memorial Cent: Wide AM coin is now worth upwards of $520, it just goes to show that not everything valuable has to be meticulously made.
30. Lincoln Head Copper Penny
During WWII, the U.S. Mint used steel to create coins instead of the usual copper – which at the time had been reserved for other more important purposes. Regardless, a series of copper pennies managed to accidentally slip through production. And while steel pennies from this time are relatively worthless, the 1943 Lincoln Head Copper Penny can fetch up to $10,000 at auction.
29. 1943-S Lincoln Wheat Cent
As with copper, bronze was also taken out of coin production in the 1940s owing to its use in the war effort. Still, at least five coins were made from this material – including the so-called 1943-S Lincoln Wheat Cent on a bronze planchet. And these are now incredibly valuable. Just ask Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob R. Simpson, who paid $1 million for a single example in 2012.
28. Doubled Die Penny
Featuring yet another example of additional letters, the 1955 Doubled Die Penny rose to even further fame after the 1989 movie UHF made it an integral part of the plot. Out of a batch of 40,000, roughly 24,000 examples of the penny entered circulation, and just one of them could earn its owner as much as $1,800.
27. Presidential Dollar Error Coins
In 2007 special presidential dollars were released with lettering around their edges – the first coins of that denomination in two centuries to boast such a feature. As with all things new, though, mistakes were made, meaning some examples made it into circulation with completely blank sides. And since then, the 2007 George Washington Dollar (Missing Edge Lettering), to give it its full name, has gone on to sell for as much as $1,000.
26. Silver Half Dollars
In times of economic uncertainty, many have looked towards alternative forms of currency. Silver has been snapped up during these periods, for example – and this makes certain coins surprisingly valuable. Indeed, the silver half dollars produced from 1965 to 1970 actually contain 40 percent of the precious metal – although many people haven’t realized this when they’ve taken their cash to the bank.
25. Lincoln Cent
While many counterfeit coins have fooled government officials, it’s not often that genuine coins have been mistaken for fakes. But, rather unbelievably, this has actually happened in the past. Take the 1969-S Lincoln Cent with Doubled Die Obverse, for example, which was temporarily branded a forgery by the U.S. Secret Service thanks to its misprinting. And you may want to check behind the couch, too, as one of these coins has sold for upwards of $126,000.
24. Flowing Hair Dollar
In order for U.S. coins to enter circulation, they must first fit some rigorous standards – including meeting a certain weight. Back in the 18th century, though, minters would sometimes place plugs through the middle of blanks used for casting in order to reduce the finished product’s mass. As a result, then, examples such as the 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar (Silver Plug) bear visible marks in their centers. And, incredibly, these coins can raise anything from $3,000 to $30,000 each.
23. Flowing Hair Large Cent
A special coin from the earliest days of the United States, the Flowing Hair Cent was released 17 years after the Declaration of Independence. More specifically, the so-called 1793 Flowing Hair Cent: America Without Periods boasts some uncommon features, including a chain reverse and a lack of punctuation marks following the date and the word “liberty.” And you have cause for cheer if you find this particular coin in your possession, as it could raise between $8,000 and $56,000.
22. Buffalo Nickel
During WWI, the U.S. Mint had a particularly high demand for nickels. In their haste to print more in 1917 for the following year, though, printers made a peculiar error. Most notably, that rush resulted in nickels bearing two dates – 1917 and 1918 – printed one on top of the other. And owing to that mistake, a 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel can fetch as much as $9,000.
21. Sacagawea dollar
After meeting little interest with a Susan B. Anthony-adorned dollar in 1999, minters introduced a follow-up coin bearing explorer Sacagawea’s image the following year. By mistake, though, the Philadelphia Mint struck these new editions using the same copper-nickel planchets that were arguably responsible for its predecessor’s failure. And though the coin has been deemed worthless for general use, a 2000-P Sacagawea dollar struck on an Anthony dollar planchet has sold for as much as $7,600.
20. Lincoln Presidency Cent
To commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday in 2009, a series of special cent pieces were produced. And out of the four varieties to enter circulation – all of which depicted a different part of the president’s life – the penny illustrating his presidency is of particular value. Showing an in-construction Capitol Dome on the reverse, the 2009 1C Lincoln-Presidency, RD (Regular Strike) has raked in $2,650 on eBay.
19. Shield nickels
A popular coin in American currency, the Shield nickel have been in circulation since 1866. Introduced in response to money hoarding after the American Civil War, these iconic coins featured a prominent shield design emblazoned on their obverse. And out of all these early nickels, the 1880 variety is especially significant owing to its limited pressing of just 16,000 pieces. In fact, some examples, such as the horribly named 1880 Shield Nickel, NGC PF-66, Repunched Date (Business Strike Diagnostic) can each sell for up to $1,750.
18. Sacagawea Cheerios Dollar
We’ve all heard of cereal boxes containing free toys, but free dollars is another matter entirely. Weirdly enough, though, the U.S. Mint teamed up with Cheerios in 2000 to promote the new golden dollar. And while, all in all, ten million boxes of the breakfast food contained one of the coins, another 5,500 lucky packages also contained a different piece known as a Sacagawea Dollar. These items can be identified by a unique tail-feather design on the reverse’s eagle logo and can raise between $5,000 and $25,000 each.
17. American Silver Eagle coin
There’s a popular saying that goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And this maxim may have been in the back of minters’ minds when they released redesigns of their Silver Eagle in 2008. You see, for whatever reason, these new coins – known as the 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety – bore the previous year’s motif. In total, over 46,000 of these pieces were circulated – with one going on to sell for $2,900 in 2013.
16. Stella Gold coin
In 1879 the U.S. Mint had the idea to make a coin that could be used anywhere outside of the U.S. And while this plan was ultimately abandoned the following year, the printed pieces that resulted are now a must for die-hard collectors. The 1879 Stella Gold $4: Coiled Hair, for example, has previously brought in over $400,000.
15. Liberty Head Double Eagle
First pressed in San Francisco, the 1891 Liberty Head Double Eagle $20 coin boasts a 90 percent gold content. And yet sellers would be wise not to shift this piece based on its volume of precious metal alone. The coin was drawn up by James Barton Longacre, the fourth chief engraver of the U.S. Mint, and well-kept examples can be potentially sold for upwards of $180,000 each.
14. Capped Bust Quarter
With only 4,000 pieces ever printed, the 1827 Capped Bust Quarter can fetch anywhere between $4,000 and $109,000. That said, eagle-eyed hunters should check the coin’s lettering before putting their piece up for sale. You see, some varieties feature a curled “2” on its year of printing – and this has the fortunate effect of doubling its value.
13. Walking Liberty Half Dollar
At the time of its release just after WWI, this piece became popular in the U.S. – thanks in part to its unique size. More specifically, the MS-65 version of the 1919 D Walking Liberty Half Dollar is coveted among coin collectors, with some examples having sold for as much as $200,000 at auction. And while mint-condition examples are exceedingly rare, even worn coins of this type can each bring in $100 or so.
12. Morgan Silver Dollar
Named for designer George T. Morgan, the Morgan Silver Dollar was printed regularly between 1878 and 1904. However, by far the most valuable variations are the MS-65 1901 P Morgans, with those in mint condition able to fetch as much as $425,000 each. And even a circulated coin – especially one with a double-die error – can raise prices as high as $3,650.
11. Liberty Head Gold Dollar
Although the U.S. Mint began producing gold dollars in May 1849, designer James B. Longacre continued to refine his sketches well into the period of the coin’s circulation. As a result, then, many prototype versions were used as currency. And one such variety, the 1849 C Liberty Head Gold Dollar: Open Wreath, proved eminently valuable, too, changing hands for $690,000 in 2004.
9. Capped Bust Half Dollar
Many coin collectors are keen to stress the importance of keeping currency in mint condition. However, pieces that are nearly 200 years old – such as the 1838 O Capped Bust Half Dollar, for example – are understandably hard to find unscathed. Nevertheless, while a flawless version of this coin can go for $745,000, one of average appearance can still bring in a respectable $160,000.
8. St. Gaudens Double Eagle
One of the rarest gold coins minted in the U.S., the 1927-D Double Eagle, MS66 was pulled from circulation shortly after its release that year. Fortunately, although most of the 180,000 pieces were smelted down in the 1930s, a few survived destruction. And you may have hit the jackpot if you’ve got one of these coins on your person, as a single example was purchased in 2005 for a whopping $1.9 million.
7. Seated Liberty Dollar
The term “off the books” is usually used in reference to money of dubious origin. In the case of the 1870 S Seated Liberty Dollar, though, a simple accident meant that no records of this coin were ever made. For whatever reason, the San Francisco mint responsible for the dollar’s creation neglected to make a note of its pressing. And perhaps because there are only 12 known examples in existence, these coins have each sold for as much as $1.1 million in the past.
6. Silver Barber Dime
Sometimes the rarest coins are hiding in plain sight. For example, a limited edition 1894 S Barber Dime – of which only 24 examples were minted – was once discovered amongst odds and ends in a Gimbels department store in 1957. And while that particular piece was then sold for just $2.40, the treasured coins are worth considerably more today. In fact, one has since been bought for an incredible $1.45 million.
5. Turban Head Gold Quarter Eagle
Though it seems a strange amount of money to be represented by a coin, $2.50 was the usual weekly wage allotted to workers of the U.S. Mint over two centuries ago. A unique coin was printed at the time, then, that was reserved almost solely for these employees. And just a single example of the 1796 Turban Head Gold $2.50 Quarter Eagle: No Stars On Obverse could make considerably more than its face value, too – anything between $44,000 and $1.8 million.
4. Liberty Head nickel
When it comes to coin collecting, the word “rare” doesn’t even do justice to the 1913 Liberty Head nickel. Indeed, this coin – which was limited to very small batches – is so scarce that only five specimens are known to exist today. One piece even sold for $3.7 million in 2010. Should you find this nickel lying around somewhere, then, be sure to run to your nearest auctioneer right away.
3. Draped Bust Silver Dollar
Often dubbed “the King of Coins” by collectors, the 1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar has a rather misleading name. You see, as thrifty minters used older dies to lower expenditures, most examples were actually printed later than that year. Whenever the dollar was made, though, it’s likely to be valuable, as one sold for over $3.8 million in 2013.
2. Liberty Head Gold Half Eagle
In the mid-19th century, the San Francisco Mint produced just 268 of the 1854 S Coronet Head Gold $5 Half Eagle. What’s more, only three of these pieces currently rest in collectors’ hands. So with hundreds still unaccounted for, further examples of this currency could still be lying around in wallets across the U.S. And, astonishingly, an intact coin could be worth as much as $4.2 million.
1. Flowing Hair Dollar
The 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar holds the distinction of being the very first dollar coin minted by the U.S. government. Somewhat unsurprisingly, then, it’s exceedingly valuable. In fact, in 2013, this version of the dollar became the world’s most expensive coin after one example was sold for over $10 million. And if you’re lucky enough to possess one of the 1,758 pieces created, you can definitely expect an early retirement.