* The Coin Page *

I've been collecting coins on and off since my childhood. For the last year or so, I've been actively collecting coins from circulation (i.e. pocket change), obtaining change at face value and looking through it for any keepers and spending the rest. Here are some of the more interesting finds I've managed to turn up in my search: (NOTE: I use the term nickel to denote the usual 5-cent piece)

There are more common, but still collectible, coins that I have found without too much difficulty:

Tips for pocket-change searchers

As any amateur numismatist will tell you, half-dollars are a great place to look for silver coinage. Since halves don't circulate very much, lots of silver remains in circulation, never having had a chance to be removed. I regularly obtain rolls of half-dollars from local banks, keep any silver halves, and spend the rest. On average, I seem to find one 40% silver half in every $20 of halves. 1964 Kennedy halves, which are 90% silver, seem to show up about once every $200, and I've only ever found two Franklin half-dollars, so I could only make a wild guess and say that maybe you'll see one in $2000 worth of halves. Maybe. 40% silver halves contain about 0.148 oz silver, while 90% silver halves contain 0.3618 oz silver.

Your luck will vary depending on which bank(s) you use to obtain your coins. Some banks have rolls of halves that have been recently deposited, perhaps by people who have received them or sometimes by other collectors who have searched through them already. If you're lucky, you might come across older rolls that have been sitting around for years. If you're really lucky, they're old enough to contain plenty of silver and have been sitting around, unsearched, for decades. Hey, you never know.

Another good place to look for collectible coins is in rolls of nickels. Things get interesting before 1957; dates earlier than that are somewhat less common in circulation. The wartime nickels (1942-1945) are scarce, but make a nice find, with 35% silver content and a value of at least $.50. Many of the non-silver issues are hard to find as well, like the 1938-D and -S, the 1939-D and -S, and the 1950-D. There's also a very small chance of finding Buffalo nickels, though I've had much better luck finding them in nickel slot machines.

The 1995 doubled-die obverse cent

Can you spot the doubled-die cent? Click on each thumbnail to see an enlarged version of each coin. The one on the left is an ordinary 1995 Lincoln cent, while the one on the right comes from the infamous doubled-die that made the news that year.

Don't be surprised if the difference isn't obvious from looking at the whole coin. The best way to learn how to distinguish the two is to look at an example of each type under a magnifier. Unfortunately, this opens up a little Catch-22, since you would need a doubled-die cent to help find one in the first place. In the interests of numismatics, I've prepared some images of the doubled-die cent I found last year to help others spot them more easily.

The regular 1995 cent shows a crisp "LIBERTY" and "IN GOD" with no signs of doubling.

The doubled-die 1995 cent shows doubling in "LIBERTY," most noticeably at the "B" and the "E". It looks as though a second image of "LIBERTY," slightly further up the coin, was superimposed on the original word. The words "IN GOD" also appear doubled. The second die image was rotated relative to the original.

For the curious, I found my doubled-die cent in circulation from a roll of pennies from a bank. I was tempted to get one of the many mint-sewn bags being offered for sale from coin dealers, but I decided it wasn't worth the time and added expense. Instead, I read descriptions of the coin posted on the Net and searched a few unsorted rolls before hitting pay dirt.

If you manage to find one with the help of this guide, congratulations! Although the original "get rich quick" hype has died down, good examples of the 1995 doubled-die obverse go for $25 and up, depending on condition, so it's still a very nice thing to find in your change.

Numismatic links

Sites with coin information, articles, images, and dealer contacts.
[Back] Go back to Hobbies & Interests