If your tastes run more toward prospecting than purchasing, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of collectible coins still in circulation. There may even be a few diamonds-in-the-roughs out there, but it’s more likely you’ll come across a few that are worth several dollars instead of thousands. Here are some to look out for:

Wheat Pennies

These are the pennies with Abe Lincoln on the face and a wheat stalk design on the back. They were made from 1909 until 1958, so there are still many in circulation. While most circulated Wheat Pennies won’t make you rich, a few are worth several hundred dollars. They include:

Valuable "Wheaties"
1909-S VDB cent 1914-D cent
1922 plain cent 1931-S cent
1955 Doubled-Die cent

If you think you may have found one of these, check the internet first to see the details you should look for. Then, if it looks promising, take the coin to a reputable coin dealer for verification.

Don’t presume the other wheat cents are worthless, though. Even many recent or less rare ones are worth 10-25 cents apiece, some even more. Collect enough and their value can add up nicely.

Wartime Jefferson Nickels

During World War II, the U.S. needed nickel more than it needed silver, so to conserve the strategic metal, from October 1942 through 1945, Congress authorized minting nickels made of 56% copper, 9% manganese…and 35% silver, the only nickels that ever contained it.

Nearly a billion were produced, and many have survived and are still in circulation. A heavily worn one will bring at least a dollar, with the finest samples worth $200 or more. If you happen to find a pristine 1943/2 P overstrike coin, it’s worth several thousand. And they’re all of significant historical value.

Roosevelt Silver Dimes

The Franklin Roosevelt dime first appeared in 1946 to honor the recently deceased president and are still in circulation today. But coins minted up until 1965 contained 90% silver, making them worth much more than 10 cents. Nearly all have been melted down for their silver content, but you may still find a few in circulation or in old boxes, jars, or sofa cushions. Worn Roosevelt silver dimes are worth a couple of dollars, and good-quality ones can bring five dollars or more.

Silver Washington Quarters

Like the Roosevelt dimes, quarters used to contain 90% silver. George is still on the front, but the silver’s been gone since 1965. And like the Roosevelt silver dimes, most have been melted down for their silver, but you still might come across one in circulation. 40% silver Washington quarters were also made for collectors from 1992-1998 but would have only entered circulation by mistake (a big mistake since uncirculated proof samples can go for as much as $5,000). If you find a regular Washington silver quarter in circulated condition, it’ll be worth around $4.00.

Silver Half Dollars

Ben Franklin graced the front of half dollars from 1948 through 1964. They were 90% silver and a few may still be kicking around, but you’re more likely to find a silver Kennedy half in circulation. When it first came out in 1964, it was 90% silver like the Washington quarters. And like the quarters, the Kennedy halves contained 40% silver up until 1970. Circulated coins are worth a few dollars, and mint quality ones go for hundreds or even thousands, depending on rareness and other factors.

Enjoy the Hunt. You Might Get Hooked

Many collectors got their start with circulated coins. And even if you don’t find the proverbial Picasso in the attic, it’s a great way to learn about the joys of collecting and the history behind our money. A good place to start is by getting rolls of coins from your bank and prospecting for hidden treasure.

The Great American Coin Company® has a wide selection of circulated coins in rolls and bags as well as high-quality collectibles. Take a look!

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Great American Coin Company