10 Most Valuable Coins that can be Found in Pocket Change

You may have some coins worth big money sitting in your pocket right now. There are many reasonably valuable U.S. error coins and die varieties in circulation today. People overlook these coins because they have small distinguishing characteristics that are not easily recognizable, such as a modest doubling of the coin image, or minute differences in the size or spacing of the letters in the legends. Learn which of your pocket change coins is worth a significant premium over face value, and what to look for.

Tip: Be sure to do your coin hunting with at least a 6x power magnifier, so you don’t miss anything!

1969-S Lincoln Cent With a Doubled Die Obverse

Valuable Coin 1 - 1969-S Doubled Die Cent
This 1969-S doubled die obverse penny was found in a roll of uncirculated 1969-S cents.  Photo courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

This coin is exceedingly rare. The Secret Service confiscated the early specimens until the U.S. Mint admitted they were genuine. Counterfeits abound but usually have the wrong mint mark. In May 2014, a mother in Texas found one while going through rolls of coins. PCGS graded the coin AU-55, and it is valued at approximately $24,000.

How to Detect: Look for a clear doubling of the entire obverse (“heads” side) except for the mint mark. If the mint mark is doubled, it is probably a case of strike doubling, rather than a doubled die, which isn’t worth much. Mint marks were punched in the dies separately in 1969 after the doubled die itself had already been made.

Approximate Value: Around $35,000 or more in AU-50 or better.

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    1970-S Small Date Lincoln Cent With a Doubled Die Obverse

    1970-S Lincoln Cent Doubled Die
    1970-S Lincoln Cent Doubled Die.  Image Copyright: © 2015 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    As with practically all true doubled die varieties, only one side of the coin shows doubling. If both sides exhibit doubling on any part of the coin, the coin probably exhibits strike doublinginstead, and is worth little.

    How to Detect: The rarer Small Date variety is most easily distinguished from the common type by the weakness of LIBERTY. The Doubled Die Obverse is best demonstrated by doubling in LIB and IN GOD WE TRUST.

    Approximate Value: Around $3,000 in EF-40 or so.

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    1972 Lincoln Cent With a Doubled Die Obverse

    1972 Lincoln Memorial Penny Doubled Die Obverse Variety
     Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    The 1972 (no mint mark) Lincoln Cent doubled die variety shows strong doubling on all elements. The “Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties”, which was an important source for this article, suggests using a “die marker” to help verify your finds. A die marker is a gouge or crack that identifies a particular die.

    How to Detect: A clear doubling of all obverse elements; look for a tiny gouge near the edge above the D in UNITED as a die marker. You will need at least a 6X magnifier to authenticate this variety.

    Approximate Value: About $500 in EF-40 or so.

    04of 10

    2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter With an Extra Leaf

    2004-D Wisconsin Fifty State Quarter Extra Leaf
    2004-D Wisconsin Fifty State Quarter Extra Leaf.  Image Copyright: © 2015 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    Variety experts disagree about the cause and long-term value of this type, but I’ve included in the list because it is very findable in pocket change and worth hundreds of dollars right now.

    How to Detect: There is some defect on the die that makes it appear as if there’s an extra leaf on the lower left-hand side of the ear of corn on the reverse. The leaf is very prominent and a magnifying glass is not necessary to make this observation. Known in two varieties, the High Leaf, and the LowMORE

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    1999 Wide “AM” Reverse Lincoln Cent

    1999 Lincoln Cent Wide AM Reverse
    1999 Lincoln Cent Wide AM Reverse.  Image Copyright: © 2015 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    This variety is known for 3 dates, 1998, 1999, and 2000, with 1999 being by far the rarest. The mint erroneously used a proof die to strike normal circulation coins.

    How to Detect: The AM in AMERICA on the reverse is clearly separated in the Wide variety. In the normal variety for these dates, the letters AM are very close or touching.

    Approximate Value: $5 to $25 in circulated condition, $75 to $600 in MS-63 or better depending on color. 1999 brings the highest prices, with 2000 being second.

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    1982 No Mint Mark Roosevelt Dime

    1982 Roosevelt Dime Missing Mintmark (No "P")
    1982 Roosevelt Dime Missing Mintmark (No “P”).  Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, www.ha.com

    At the point in time that the United States Mint made these coins, the coin dies sent to the individual branch mints would be punched with the proper mint mark letter for that branch before shipping. This variety is believed to be caused because one or more non-punched dies were used to make coins.

    The letter “P” was being used for coins made at the Philadelphia facility,  “D” for Denver minted coins, and “S” on dimes minted in San Francisco. Therefore, all coins should have a mintmark. Since this coin has no mint mark, it is moderately valuable.

    How to Detect: The 1982 dime is missing a mint mark.

    Approximate Value: About $30 to $50 in AU-50, more for higher grades.

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    Presidential Dollar Edge Lettering Errors

    Missing Edge Lettering
    This George Washington Presidential Dollar is missing the edge lettering. The Presidential Dollar coin edge lettering error is a major coin error.  Photo of the missing edge lettering dollar by Athel Patterson

    Ever since the first Presidential Dollar (the Washington Dollar issued in 2007), there have been errors associated with the lettering on the edge of these coins. The edge lettering is applied to the coin after the coin is struck. In some cases, it is missing entirely. In others, the edge lettering has been placed there multiple times.

    How to Detect: Look at the edge. The inscription should appear fully encased all around the circumference of the coin. Missing or doubled inscriptions are rare and valuable.

    Approximate Value: $50 to $3,000, depending on the President.

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    1995 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent

    1995 Lincoln Cent Doubled Die Obverse
    1995 Lincoln Cent Doubled Die Obverse.  Image Copyright: © 2015 James Bucki; All rights reserved.

    This doubled die variety generated a lot of mainstream interest when it was featured as a cover story in USA Today. Specimens are still being found in circulation all the time!

    How to Detect: Clear doubling in LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST.

    Approximate Value: About $20 to $40 in uncirculated condition.

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    Certain Uncirculated State Quarters

    50 State Quarter Program
    50 State Quarter Program.  Image Courtesy of: The United States Mint, www.usmint.gov

    As the economy has worsened, people who have been hoarding rolls of State Quarters have been spending them into circulation. If you can put together whole rolls uncirculated quarters of certain in-demand states, you can get as much as $30 per roll for them.

    How to Detect: Demand changes from time-to-time based on major coin dealer promotions. Currently, look for Georgia, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Illinois. Quarters must be uncirculated!

    Approximate Value: $20 to $52 per roll for strictly uncirculated rolls of certain states. 

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    Silver Half Dollars

    Examples of Kennedy and Franklin half dollars.
    Examples of Kennedy and Franklin half dollars.  (c) James Bucki

    Most people think that the silver in U.S. coins ended in 1964, but this isn’t true. The Half Dollar coin had silver in it until 1970. Many people spend the Half Dollars from 1965 to 1970, or sells them in rolls of halves they take to the bank, not realizing they are 40% silver.

    How to Detect: If the Half Dollar is dated 1964 or earlier, it is 90% silver. Halves dated from 1965 to 1970 are 40% silver. You might also find silver Proof Half Dollars, which are 90% silver and dated to current. Silver Proof Halves have very shiny, mirror-like surfaces and there is no copper color when you view the edge.

    Approximate Value: Value is based on silver spot price.

4 thoughts on “10 Most Valuable Coins that can be Found in Pocket Change

  • October 9, 2018 at 9:33 am

    my name NEHAL am retired as used to work in five stars hotel used save all international coins & probably US coins . 1979 was in school USAF TX & 1980 US Navy seals school Coronado San Diego . so now wanted to keep my self basy with your help loved to bay & sell rare coins if you give me a hand thank you so much . LOVE AMERICA

  • October 9, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Hey out there,
    First u want to say thank you for making searching for coins interesting and fun.
    I am very new to this (one month to date) and you have made it alot easier for me and I’m sure many people to have a better chance on actually finding valuable coins .
    I have found a few coins of interest but at the moment I am not to sure in regards to what I think is a 1982 DOP mint and also the BE in liberty seem to be connected by a small line of copper,I would like to know what you think of this …..I do appreciate you taking time to better help me understand what I’m looking at ………thank you .


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