The Best Rare American Coins You Can Find in Pocket Change

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Contributor, Benzinga
November 3, 2023

You may have heard stories of people randomly finding an extremely rare coin in their pocket change that transforms their lives. Imagine finding a treasure worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars just hiding in plain sight in your coin jar. Believe it or not, some of the most valuable rare American coins are just old pennies, dimes or nickels with tiny errors on them. One could be lying undiscovered in your collection right now. In this article, Benzinga breaks down how to find hidden gems among your coins and potentially uncover a fortune you never knew you had.

What Makes Coins Rare?

Several factors can make American coins rare and valuable, including mint errors (like overstamp or double die errors), mint marks and specific dates. Coins with mint errors are often the most valuable because of their rarity. However, it's important to remember that the condition of the coin still plays a significant role in determining its value.

There are a ton of different rare American coins with values ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Some examples of highly sought-after rare American coins that you could find in your change include mint condition 1916-D Mercury Dimes, Three-Legged Buffalo Nickels, and the 1969 and 1972 Lincoln Cent Doubled Die Obverse coins. These coins are exceedingly rare and in high demand among collectors, so they can fetch impressive prices on the market.

How to Find Rare American Coins

You might be surprised how easy it is to spot the few things that can make a coin rare and valuable when you know what to look for.

Research the Coin

Identify the type of coin you want to check and learn about the rarest versions of that coin to know what to look for. Figure out what dates, mint marks, mint errors or other features can make the coin rare so you know what to keep an eye out for.

Inspect the Coin's Condition

Assess the condition of your coins because this factor impacts value. Coins are typically graded on a scale from "Poor" to "Mint." Check out Benzinga’s article dedicated to coin grading for an in-depth look at how to tell what condition your coin is in.

Check for Mint Errors and Irregularities

Look for mint errors, rare dates or other irregularities that may increase the coin's value. Some mint errors are much harder to see than others so study potential errors carefully.

Determine the Value

Look up the last traded price of your specific coin, considering factors such as date, condition, mint marks and mint errors. If you are correct in those factors and the last sale was recent, you may have just found a good estimate of the coin’s value.

These steps are a great way of getting a good understanding of what your coins might be worth, but it isn’t definitive. You may still want to have your coins professionally graded and examined, especially if you see what could be a rare mint error. 

How to Buy and Sell Rare Coins and Other Precious Metals

The rarest coins are often bought and sold at auctions or over the counter, but you can purchase relatively rare American coins through secure, easy-to-use precious metals dealers like Red Rock Secured. By buying Mercury Dimes and Buffalo Nickels, you can own a piece of American history and potentially make a sound investment in rare coins. If you want to invest in proof or uncirculated coins, you have many more options by choosing from the reputable dealers below.

Frequently Asked Questions


What rare coins should I look for in my change?


Some rare coins to look for include the 1943 copper penny, the 1970-S small date Lincoln cent, the 1992-D Close AM penny, the 1982 no mintmark Roosevelt dime, the 2004 Wisconsin state quarter with an extra leaf, and the 2005-P Bison nickel with a speared bison.


What pennies to look for in pocket change?


Look for pennies that are in good condition, without excessive wear or damage. These are more likely to have higher value to collectors. Keep an eye out for rare or limited edition pennies, such as those with specific designs or mint marks. These can also be worth more than their face value. Consider the age of the penny. Older pennies, particularly those minted before 1982, were made with a higher percentage of copper and may have a higher intrinsic value.


What penny is worth $50000?


The penny that is worth $50,000 is a rare and valuable 1943 copper penny.

About Henry Stater

Henry is an expert in all things crypto. He stays up to date with all the latest coins, platforms and technologies in the field. He has particular expertise in the burgeoning decentralized finance ecosystem and loves trying out all the new platforms. He also always follows major events in other financial markets and geopolitics as a whole, especially when an event’s effects ripple through the crypto market.