How to Find Rare Coins: 7 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (2024)

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Last Updated: February 13, 2022Approved

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You've decided to pursue the fascinating hobby of numismatics (coin collecting). Now all you need are some coins. Read on to find out how to find rare coins without paying a fortune.


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  1. 1

    Get rolls of coins from banks. Trade in your paper cash for coins at any local bank. You might get old coins if the rolls have been in the bank for a long time. Occasionally, you'll find a rare or foreign coin that's been mixed up with the others.

  2. 2

    Check pocket change for key date or error coins. Familiarize yourself with the "key dates" of coin series, meaning the years that are rare and valuable. Although it's not likely, people have found rare coins worth hundreds, and even thousands of dollars in their spare change!

    • For example, in the US, coins marked with the mint mark S are almost always more valuable. 1942—1946 nickels are another item to look out for, as they are 35% silver and worth a little more than normal.


  3. 3

    Visit garage sales and flea-markets. Make regular expeditions to hit up all the used good sales in your area. Chances are you will find the occasional coin collection at a good bargain.

    • Fairs are a great place to look for coins. Ask a local tourist board if there are any happening in your area.
  4. 4

    Talk to older friends and relatives. Many people have a change jar or a coin collection stashed away somewhere. Talk to older people, especially people who have lived in the same house for decades. They may be delighted to show you their old coins, and let you keep some or split the profit if you identify a rare one.

    • Ask relatives for permission to search their attics, basem*nts, and closets as well.
    • Let all your friends and relatives know that you'd love to see any old coins they find. Keep paper money or new change around, to trade for the change they pick up in circulation.
  5. 5

    Buy from coin specialists. Visit auction houses, antique stores, pawnshops, and coin collecting clubs to find rare coins for sale. This is the easiest way to locate a rare coin, but, of course, it won't always be affordable. Try searching once you have a small collection of your own and are interested in expanding your hobby.

    • Many dealers have "bargain bins" of coins that you can pick through. Although bargain bins usually contain common, lower quality coins, sometimes a rare coin slips through.
    • You can often buy special collectors' coins directly from the mint.
  6. 6

    Search in areas with tourists and immigrants. If you're interested in foreign coins, be smart about where you look. Visit neighborhoods full of recent immigrants, and ask the cashiers in local stores whether they have foreign change they'd like to trade. Tourist hot spots are another place full of people who have coins they'd like to trade you.

    • Look at the sidewalk too, while walking through these areas.
  7. 7

    Make a metal detector. Metal detecting can be a low-budget hobby if you build your own equipment. You'll have to dig up a lot of junk before you find any coins, but where else in life will you get to find buried treasure?

    • Learn the laws of your region before you head out to the park. In many areas, metal detector use is illegal in certain areas. Some of your findings may also be illegal to take, in particular anything associated with human remains.
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  • Question

    Where can I purchase a book about old coins?

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    Ask a librarian to help you find books in the library or through interlibrary loan. If you still feel you want to buy a particular book, you have had the opportunity to evaluate several and choose the most helpful. Then you can check Amazon.

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    Where can I sell my rare coins if I am a child?

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    Talk to a trusted adult for help.

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    How can I tell if my coin has any value?

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    You can always look at the date of the coin and then google it. For example, if you had a penny manufactured in 1921, you could search "value of a 1921 penny." Check a couple of links and compare the responses.

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      • To get a new coin collection started for free, make a habit of trading new pennies for old at grocery store "take a penny, leave a penny" dishes. You won't get many rare coins this way, but you can try to collect a penny for each year.


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      • Beware of suspiciously good deals, or extremely rare coins on limited time offers. These may be fakes.


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      About This Article

      wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 16 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 74,925 times.

      30 votes - 87%

      Co-authors: 16

      Updated: February 13, 2022


      Categories: Coins

      Article SummaryX

      To find rare coins, try exchanging cash for rolls of coins at the bank. Then, look through the coins to see if any of them are old and rare, like a U.S. nickel from 1942-1946 or a U.S. coin with the mint mark "S" on it. Alternatively, you can look through some spare change you have lying around the house. Or, you could ask an older friend or relative to look through their stash of old coins to see if there are any rare ones in it. For more tips, like how to find rare coins at garage sales or using a metal detector, read on!

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      Reader Success Stories

      • How to Find Rare Coins: 7 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (28)

        Debra Spate

        Jan 11, 2023

        "I know what to look at to tell if my 1965 quarters are more valuable. I have been finding a few silver quarters..." more

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      How to Find Rare Coins: 7 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow (2024)


      What is the easiest way to find rare coins? ›

      If you are unable to find what you're looking for in our catalog or Coin Seller Database, you may also find coins through:
      1. Banks. Search through coin rolls from a bank.
      2. Collectors. Trade or buy coins privately or through coin clubs.
      3. Coin Dealers. ...
      4. Coin Shows. ...
      5. Auctions. ...
      6. Flea Markets and Antique Shows.
      Jun 21, 2023

      What is the easiest way to find the value of coins? ›

      Reputable coin dealers, Coin Auctions, eBay, and Price Guides are great places to start. If your coins are graded by one of the Top Tier grading services like PCGS or NGC, you can usually get a reasonable value estimate sight-unseen!

      How to find old coins for free? ›

      In terms of where to search for rare coins, here are seven strategies:
      1. Search where others don't. ...
      2. Exchange paper or digital currency for coin rolls at banks.
      3. Buy a metal detector. ...
      4. Ask friends and family if you can look at their old coins. ...
      5. Use change machines.
      Mar 28, 2024

      Is there an app for finding rare coins? ›

      CoinSnap is the perfect app for coin enthusiasts of all levels. From beginners to experienced numismatists, CoinSnap has something for everyone. Download now and unlock all of its features.

      Which 1 coin is rare? ›

      What is the rarest £1 coin? According to coin database Change Checker, the 2011 Scotland: Edinburgh City £1 coin is the rarest to have been released, with a mintage of under a million. It depicts the circular coat of arms of Edinburgh and sells for about £10 on eBay.

      How do I know if I have a rare coin? ›

      One of the easiest ways to tell if a coin is rare is to check the date. If the coin is from before 1800, it's likely rare. Coins minted in the 19th century are also generally considered rare, with a few exceptions. Coins from the 20th century are less likely to be rare, but there are still some that meet the criteria.

      How much is 1776 to 1976 one dollar worth? ›

      Price Guide
      1 more row

      Can I take a picture of a coin to find value? ›

      Coin Identifier also provides detailed information about each coin, including the year of issue, value, and history. To use Coin Identifier, simply take a picture of the coin with your phone's camera.

      What to look for when coin hunting? ›

      Prime targets of American coin roll hunters are silver dimes, quarters, and halves prior to 1965, and 40% silver half dollars from 1965–1970. Nickels are searched for 35% silver "war nickels" (1942–1945 with mint marks on top of the Monticello on the reverse).

      Where are old coins usually found? ›

      Best Places to Look for Old Coins:

      Old coins are a common item in many antique shops. Where to find coins? Places that are generally empty, overlooked, or not often frequented such as abandoned houses, attics, beneath bridges, and posthole banks are sometimes a good place to look.

      What is the most rare coin to find? ›

      1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

      Now, only 13 known coins remain, one of which is privately owned. The 1933 version of this coin is perhaps the rarest and most sought-after one of all. The only privately-owned one is held by Stuart Weitzman. It was last valued at $7,500,000 compared to its original $20 value.

      Is the CoinSnap app any good? ›

      It's very well designed, super easy to navigate, and most beneficial for researching coins. Though I haven't taken my coins to an expert or had them appraised by anyone, I feel that the app served me well, with a better understanding and invaluble amount of knowledge that I didn't have otherwise.

      Is it worth looking for rare coins? ›

      Generally, rare coins increase in value over the long term and can provide significant gains in many cases. However, keep in mind that there are no guarantees for how a coin will change in value.

      Do banks sell rare coins? ›

      But, it is illegal for the bank to sell coins for their numismatic value. They can only sell them for their face value.

      What are the best rare coins to collect? ›

      8 Rare Coins Worth Millions That Are Highly Coveted by Coin...
      • 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. ...
      • 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. ...
      • 1913 5C Liberty Head Nickel. ...
      • 1804 Silver Dollar Original — Class I. ...
      • 1787 $15 Brasher, Breast Punch. ...
      • 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar. ...
      • 1894-S Barber Dime. ...
      • 1849 $20 Liberty Gold Coin.

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