Collecting valuable coins is a rewarding hobby and a way to invest in your financial future. Unfortunately, the process requires substantial time and effort. However, knowing which valuable coins to look out for will help you become a knowledgeable coin collector.
Coins are fascinating for many reasons. Some people appreciate the precious metals like gold and silver that make up the currency, while others enjoy finding small mistakes on coins in circulation. Others like that something as small as a penny could be worth a fortune.
Collectors also seek coins because some are rare and give a glimpse into the past. Whatever your reason for searching for valuable currency, you will make the most of your time knowing which coins to look for during your hunt.
Factors for Determining a Coin’s Value
All coins in circulation as currency have a face value. For instance, a typical nickel is worth five cents. However, that doesn’t mean all coins are valuable.
Several factors influence the value of copper, silver, and gold coins, such as mintage. Mintage refers to the number of coins the government copies to create a total supply of a particular currency. Fewer coins in circulation often increase their value.
Sometimes a large coin supply becomes smaller due to damage, wear, and removal from circulation. Coins with a lower surviving population rate can have a higher value, especially if their demand is high.
Mistakes on coins can sometimes make them valuable instead of decreasing their worth. Though some collectors prefer currency in pristine, uncirculated condition because they fetch a high price during a sale, others might seek coins with an unusual detail from the minting process.
Nine Valuable Coins to Look Out For
- 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007
The reverse side of the 2007 and 2008 American eagle silver dollar contains a small error. The “U” in “United” on the back of some 2008-W silver eagle coins came from an old reverse die the U.S. Mint used for the 2007 version.
Because of the change, the letter U is slightly different. A typical 2008 reverse should have a spur or downstroke on the letter’s right side. The 2007 version doesn’t have the same flourish.
The U.S. Mint struck tens of thousands of coins with the wrong design before releasing 47,000 uncirculated 2008-W silver coins. Newer American eagle silver dollars feature the correct updated reverse lettering. Sales of these error coins can exceed $1,000.
- Flowing Hair Dollar
One of the most expensive coins is the Flowing Hair silver dollar of 1794. Experts suggest the coin is the first silver dollar from the U.S. Mint. Though it has a face value of one dollar, the Flowing Hair silver dollar can exceed $10 million, which was its selling price at a 2013 auction.
The front of the coin features a side view of Lady Liberty’s face with long, flowing hair. The coin’s reverse side has an American Eagle. The new design for the silver dollar through the 1850s replaced Lady Liberty’s flowy locks with the Draped Bust, which is also valuable.
The U.S. federal government issued the Flowing Hair silver dollar in 1794 and 1975. Today, about 150 to 200 of the original variety exist. The older model is more common and less valuable.
- 2005-D Jefferson Nickel with Speared Bison
In 2005, the U.S. Mint released a nickel with a buffalo on the coin’s back under “United States of America.” If you come across this coin with a mint mark of “D,” you could be in possession of the 2005-D 5C Speared Bison Jefferson nickel.
This nickel’s face value is five cents; however, its estimated worth is $1,265. The higher value is because of the faint appearance of a spear going through the buffalo under “States.” It might look intentional, but the defect results from using a die with a deep scratch during minting.
- 1984-S Barber Dime
The 1984-S Barber dime is one of the valuable coins to look for because engraver Charles E. Barber only produced 24 of them. Nine exist today. Like his other designs, this rare coin has Liberty’s profile and “One Dime” on its reverse.
This coin can fetch millions of dollars in an auction because of its rarity. For example, a Florida auction sold a 1984-S Barber dime for $2 million.
- 2005 Kansas “In God We Rust” State Quarter
This state quarter has an estimated value of $100. It might not be as valuable as other sought-after coins, but it does fetch a higher price than its face value. The 2005 Kansas state quarter is one of the more exciting error coins because of a typo.
During the minting process, grease build-up on the die for “In God We Trust” prevented the first letter T in “Trust” from stamping onto the coins. Without that letter, “trust” became “rust.” The location of the mistake was unintentional but comical, which is why many people want it for their coin collection.
- 1787 Fugio Cent
If you value humor and American history, you should consider adding the 1787 Fugio cent to your collection. The collectible, also called the Franklin cent after Benjamin Franklin, might be the first circulated coin during the United States’ earliest days.
Franklin had a reputation for being humorous. The Fugio coin features a sun and sundial with “fugio” to their left. The Latin term suggests that time and the sun are flying.
Beneath the sundial are the words “Mind your business.” Its reverse includes the motto “We are one.” Thirteen links on the coin’s backside may symbolize the country’s original 13 colonies-turned-states.
- 1943 Lincoln Head Copper Penny
You could come across a 1943 Lincoln Head copper penny without trying because some are still circulating. Before 1943, the U.S. Mint made pennies with copper and nickel. However, the government began using steel for the coin’s production because that year’s war efforts required precious metals.
Somehow, the Mint struck a batch of pennies with copper instead of steel in 1943. Today, there might be 20 to 40 of these 1943 Lincoln Head copper pennies left. The coin’s value averages 30 to 40 times more than its face value, but a 2019 auction fetched $204,000 for the currency.
- 2004 Wisconsin State Quarter with an Extra Leaf
This specimen’s estimated value is about $1,499, far from its 25-cent face value. The 2004 Wisconsin state quarter is another error coin. However, some people suggest that a U.S. Mint employee deliberately caused the mistake.
On the quarter’s reverse side, you should see a cow head, a wheel of cheese, and corn on the cob. The problem is that the coin features an extra ear of corn. If you find one of these coins in good condition, its value will be higher.
- 1955 Doubled Die Penny
This unique penny from 1955 includes a rare double image. Die misalignment caused the issue during the minting process. The lettering on the front of the penny overlaps slightly due to the error.
About 20,000 double die pennies went into circulation in 1955, mainly as change for cigarette vending machines. While Abraham Lincoln’s bust has no issues, the faulty lettering increases the penny’s worth to about $1,800.
Be Careful with Fake Gold Coins
You could acquire valuable coins through a purchase or by finding one in circulation. However, the unfortunate aspect of becoming a coin collector for profit or personal reasons is dealing with fake coins.
Counterfeit coins are always in circulation, but the rate at which they’re hitting the market is quickly rising. Advanced technology allows forgers to make authentic-looking worthless coins at a fast pace. Forgers can make thousands of dollars on bogus coins with base metals like gold-plated tungsten.
Knowing about the most valuable coins to look out for isn’t enough to avoid counterfeits. Whether you choose to collect coins as a hobby or investment, you need to protect yourself against fakes. The best way to do that is to know what it means to be a valuable coin collector.
Many people in the valuable coin collection field consider the internet a reliable source of information. Unfortunately, it’s easy to spread misinformation online. The best ways to protect yourself against scammers with counterfeit coins are to seek expert opinions about a coin’s authenticity and invest in coin grading to learn its value.
Final Thoughts About Valuable Coins
You might expect valuable coins to be in museums or with private collectors. However, some coins remain in circulation, so finding one could be a matter of luck or buying it from someone. Though you can be proud of possessing a rare or valuable coin, you should know that collecting gold coins for profit means you will have a tax liability.
Now that you know which valuable coins to look for, contact Learn About Gold for more information about opening a gold IRA. You can also use our free online “Find a Gold IRA Partner” tool and start investing the precious metal.