Coins - Finding Collectible Coins

The growth of the Internet has affected how you find a lot of things. But finding coins can still be very much an old-fashioned practice. Novice collectors are often surprised by how many valuable coins are still in loose circulation.

One inexpensive but interesting way to get started is to look for 'Lincoln wheat cents'. These are U.S. pennies minted between 1909 and 1958. The name derives from the design - an image of Lincoln on the obverse, with a pair of wheat stalk bundles on the reverse.

One especially interesting wrinkle is the steel/zinc penny from WWII. Because of a copper shortage during the war, the U.S. mints produced pennies made of steel with a zinc coating to prevent rust. Minted in 1943, they are old enough to be valuable due to age, but have the added rarity of a different alloy. They can be distinguished both by color - they have a kind of gray-blue tint - and the sound they make when struck.

Many Lincoln wheat cents have the initials VDB of the designer (Victor David Brenner) on the reverse. Those minted other than at Philadelphia are even more valuable. Philadelphia had the largest mint and therefore produced the most coins. Some pennies from that period will sell for as much as $700. Not a bad profit for a penny! Even more ordinary ones can often net $15 - still pretty good.

You can look for pennies, silver dimes, quarters and dollars in perfectly ordinary places. With the widescale use of coin counting machines, rare coins can easily be passed from bank to bank without being discovered. Only when they end up in someone's possession do they have a hope of being spotted. But many people aren't interested in coin collecting, which is great for those who are!

It only takes a second to casually examine a coin. If you've done your homework in advance, you'll be on the lookout for pre-1964 dimes, VDB pennies and the new state quarters. Eisenhower silver dollars are still around, too!

The U.S. mint began producing State Quarters in 1999 and every year brings out another. Five coins are distributed every year roughly every 10 weeks and the program was designed to run 10 years. Each state has a different design on the reverse and many of them are very interesting historical images.

Since any State Quarter produced between 1999 and 2006 is no longer issued, they will become increasingly valuable as the years go by. Coins have an average circulation lifetime of 30 years. Many already sell for $2 or more. Collect them today and you or your children could have a very valuable collectible in a few decades.

Coin collectors all have to think long term. Coins acquire value over time, so even a common, but unique design can be worth a lot someday.


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