I love looking for old coins in my pocket change. Yes, some of the old pennies, nickels, and other coins I find in circulation are worth only a little bit of money. Others are virtually worthless above face value. But all of these old coins are fascinating to collect and I love adding them to my collection. A lot of coin collecting guides will tell you to keep your eyes peeled for rarities such as the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, 1916-D Mercury dime, and other coins that, let's be quite frank, are virtually impossible to find in circulation these days. Period.
But there are at least five types of old coins you have a reasonable opportunity of finding in pocket change, bankrolls, or other common means with some bit of dedicated searching. These coins have an amazing story to tell, too. Here's a list of those old coins and a few brief points about each of them:
- 1943 Steel Lincoln Cent – In 1943, Lincoln pennies were made from steel to help save copper to produce World War II ammunition. While common, they are unusual for their silver-colored metallic composition. These coins are now worth between 10 and 50 cents in worn condition.
- 1938 Jefferson Nickel – The 1938 Jefferson nickel was the first of this long-running five-cent coin series. It's actually relatively easy to find old Jefferson nickels in circulation because the design hasn't changed much over the years. A 1938 Jefferson nickel is worth 20 to 50 cents in worn condition.
- Any Silver Wartime Jefferson Nickel – Believe it or not, I've found several Jefferson War Nickels in circulation. These 35 percent silver five-cent coins, produced from 1942 through 1945, were made sans nickel to help save the material for World War II artillery. War nickels are distinguishable from other nickels because these silver coins have large "P" (Philadelphia), "D" (Denver), and "S" (San Francisco) mintmarks above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. Each war nickel is worth $1.50 to $3 each in worn condition.
- 1964 Kennedy half dollars – While half dollars haven't circulated much since the late 1960s or early 1970s, they are still readily found at banks. In fact, searching through bankrolls of half dollars can some lend lucky collectors the chance of finding the 90 percent silver 1964 Kennedy half dollar – the first coin in the series. 1964 Kennedy half dollars are worth about $5 in worn condition.
- Eisenhower dollars – Many people seem to forget about the first copper-nickel clad large-size dollar coins, which bear an obverse image of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and reverse design of the Apollo 11 NASA moon landing insignia. Though circulating specimens aren't made from silver, Eisenhower dollars are neat coins that few collectors, especially younger ones, pay attention to these days. While worth from $1.05 to $1.10 in worn condition, Eisenhower dollars represent a series that can be affordably completed.
All of the coins mentioned above are most easily located through roll searching, which is especially the case with the Kennedy half dollar and Eisenhower dollars. However, all of the old coins are still reasonably obtainable for the average collector and can help build the foundations of several new and interesting coin sets for your collection. Happy collecting!