Originally published on September 27, 2018
Coins have been collected for centuries. Even in earlier times, the common question between collectors was “what is this worth?”. Most articles published on the hobby focus on rare, and valuable items, so we thought it might be different, and appropriate to highlight a list of many coins and notes that may look like they could be valuable, but are actually quite inexpensive. So, if you are starting a collection on a limited budget, there may be a few good ideas here, but if you are searching online for the priceless treasure you think you have...well a dose of reality is in order.
Canadian 1 Cent and 5 Cent coins. While it is true that there are certain rarities in these series...99+% of 1 & 5 cent pieces from 1900 to date are worth very little. There a literally tons of these coins still sitting in jars and drawers in peoples homes. For example a 1922 Canada 5 cent seems like a valuable coin...it is the first year of the large 5 cents, and is almost 100 years old, and has a strange design on it that was discontinued in 1936...but you can buy these for less than a dollar from any coin dealer...even less in bulk.
Canadian Dollars 1968 to date. When Canada decided to stop making “Silver” dollars in 1967, they did not stop making dollar coins. Lots of folks who were hoarding the 1967 & prior pieces also hoarded these large nickel late 60’s and 1970’s dates as well. We regularly deposit them on the bank or give them as change to clients.
Canadian 10,25,50 cents 1968 to date. Canada has gone on a frenzy, especially with the 25 cent series, and made all kinds of varieties, and special commemorative issues. Almost all are issued in very large quantities...quantities larger than the number of collectors that want them...the vast majority are worth only face value.
Canada 25 Cents 1973. This is a cool looking coin with an image of a Mountie on a Horse. There does exist a better variety where the Queens head is larger and the denticles on the head side appear to touch the rim...but it is very unlikely you have that... the regular one is worth...25 cents.
Old Canadian Copper tokens from the 1800’s. While it is true that NEW condition pieces will certainly be valuable, and that there are certain rarities that exist, most worn copper coins from the 1800’s are worth less than a few dollars. Here is a classic case of age is not the determinant of coin value.
USA Commemorative State Quarters, and Presidential Dollars. Although these series are fun to collect, because of the number of pieces involved, and their beauty, they were issued in astronomical quantities, and have little extra resale value.
USA Indian Cents, Lincoln Cents, and Buffalo Nickels. Yes of course an 1877 Indian Head Cent, a 1909 S VDB Lincoln Cent, an 1918 over 17 Buffalo Nickel are valuable...but these are some of the few exceptions in those series. Most circulated coins of those series are worth very little.
Old World coins saved from travels in the 1950’s to 1990’s. Everyone has some of this somewhere in the house. Family members who went on that special trip to Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, South America, Asia, etc., and when they got back dumped the change in a drawer or jar. Since most countries in the last few decades have demonetized their old currency (basically “old” money becomes worthless and only the new stuff is spendable), those old Italian Lira, Mexican Pesos, and French Francs are worth nothing. We buy these coins “buy the pound”, and resell them in 5 pound bags to collectors who want to have fun with worthless coins.
British Copper Coins 1860-1960’s. The output of these copper Pennies, ½ Pennies, and Farthings at the height of the British Empire was enormous. Tons were saved, most in well used condition, and these used examples, with very few exceptions are worth very little.
Low grade copper/bronze ancient coins. A 2,000 year old coin for a dollar? Yes! A huge amount of coinage was produced by the Roman empire...and much of it for some reason got buried. Metal detectorists from the last 50 years have unearthed enormous quantities of coins. The better ones (gold/silver), and new condition pieces are worth something to collectors...but most of the low grade, barely identifiable ones can be had in bulk lots for very little.