Have you ever looked through your change and seen a dirty old coin, wondering where it had been? This pondering led me to the start of my coin collecting over ten years ago.
About ten years ago, I happened to have found an old copper penny dated 1945. I thought to myself, “Whoa! This penny was made during World War II.” I set it aside thinking it had to be worth something.
Although that old wheat penny wasn’t worth much more than a few cents, I quickly discovered there were coins in common circulation that were worth a pretty penny (see what I did there). I even found a whole community circled around the very concept of digging through common coins in the hopes of finding the rare, collectible ones.
Some people have recorded making tens of thousands of dollars just by finding rare coins in common circulation.
Which Coins Are Worth the most?
Since there are millions of coins made each year, it’s sometimes difficult to remember which years are worth the most. However, there are a few guidelines for when going through your bankrolls.
Before 1965, the US Mint made coins out of silver and copper. When metal prices started getting out of hand, the US Mint had to find a cheaper metal to make coins. Today, coins are made from mostly zinc, copper, and nickel.
However, if you are lucky to find a quarter minted (made) before 1965, keep it aside. Based on today’s silver value, that same quarter is worth more than $3.50 in just its silver melt value alone.
Coinflation.com is an excellent reference site that calculates the value of coins based on their intrinsic metal content.
Pennies made before 1982 were manufactured from 95% copper. From 1982 until today, pennies are made from 97.5% zinc and are plated in copper. Therefore, keeping pennies made before 1982 can provide value. Based on current copper price per pound, an old (pre-1982) penny is worth 1.4 cents.
Although you may not get rich sorting out copper pennies, it may be worth picking these aside. If copper keeps going up, these may be worth something someday.
Currently, in my area, I find about 40% of pennies are pre-1982 copper pennies.
Dimes, Quarters & Halves
If you find any dimes, quarters, or halves made before 1965, you’re in a good place. Currently, these are worth 14 times face value. For example, a 1964 silver dime has $1.40 worth of silver and a 1953 silver quarter is worth $3.50 in silver.
The return on these silver coins is much greater, but they are much harder to find as most have been picked through and taken out of circulation. In my area, I may find one or two dimes a box of $250 (that’s 1 or 2 per 2,500 coins!).
How to Make Money Coin Sorting
I have found in my area, I have the highest percentage of silver dimes as opposed to quarters. Therefore, I have banks I go to where I buy 1-2 boxes of dimes at a time. I take them home and sort through them while on the couch watching TV at night. It’s a productive way for me to make money while watching TV.
I then reroll the dimes and sell them to a different bank. It’s important to buy from one bank and sell to a different bank. You don’t want to buy the same coins you just sorted and sold them!
Some smaller branches may not have the coins on hand, but they’ll usually be glad to order them for you with a few days’ notice.
Don’t forget to check out local coin collecting clubs and this coin related forum on coin hunting for more information.
Where to Sell Your New (Old) Coins
You can see ebay has a whole category dedicated to coin collecting and another dedicated to bullion. It may be worth selling larger lots at a time since you’ll have to ensure shipping charges are accounted for in your profit. Otherwise, either list your coins as an auction or as a buy it now listing and wait for the money to start rolling in.
Hopefully, this has given you an idea of what to expect while coin sorting and hopefully we’ve provided some useful resources for you to get started. Happy hunting!