The next time you rummage through your spare change for laundry or your morning coffee, keep an eye out. A single coin can be worth a small fortune.
Some of these coins were accidentally engraved with silly mistakes that didn’t get caught until it was too late. Other runs were mostly destroyed, making the survivors an instant collector's item.
Here are 14 rare coins that fetch a high price on eBay or at auction. If you don't find any in your pockets, don't despair — you can always make money from spare change in other ways.
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14. 1972 doubled die obverse Lincoln Memorial cent
The U.S. Mint released the 1972 Lincoln Memorial Cent in 1972 — but some of them came with a rather embarrassing error.
The words “Liberty” on the left and “1972” on the right of Abe’s profile were doubled on the error coins, and experts estimate 20,000 of them were accidentally created.
One of these error coins was listed with a starting price of $1 on eBay.com but garnered 49 bids and sold for $325, reported The U.S. Sun in September 2021. The news outlet added that this penny in particular may have been worth more because of its distinctive color.
13. 2004 D Wisconsin quarter, Extra Leaf Low variety
The Wisconsin quarter, minted in 2004, bears the image of a cow, a wheel of cheese and an ear of corn. However, one variant is worth considerably more than 25 cents.
The “Extra Leaf Low” quarter features an extra leaf on the left side of the ear of corn, but it sits lower and touches the cheese wheel.
Some have suggested that someone deliberately sabotaged the die before it began production, but Coin World says that an investigation by the U.S. Mint determined that the flawed coins were produced by accident.
These quarters are worth even more than the Kansas ones — in Oct. 2021, one of these Extra Leaf Low variants sold for $152 on eBay.com.
12. Sacagawea Cheerios dollar
Back in early 2000, you might have found this rare coin in a box of your favorite cereal.
The U.S. Mint promoted its new “Golden Dollar” by tucking a 2000 Lincoln cent into 10 million boxes of Cheerios — 5,500 of which also contained the Sacagawea dollar.
Some of those dollars, however, were a little different from the standard variety, with enhanced eagle tail feathers on the reverse.
DIY site The Spruce Crafts says only about 60 to 70 of these coins have emerged since, but they can sell for between $5,000 to $25,000 depending on grade.
11. 2008-W silver eagle reverse of 2007
The U.S. Mint released 47,000 uncirculated 2008-W American Eagle silver coins struck with the older reverse dies used in 2007, says numismatic magazine Coin World.
You can spot the difference in the lettering. The “u” on the normal 2008 reverse has a spur on the right side of the letter, but the “u” on the 2007 reverse doesn’t have a spur or downstroke.
Two coins in this style sold on eBay.com recently for more than $1,000 each.
10. 1879 $4 Gold Stella
The Stella was designed to match the weight and composition of other coins in the Latin Monetary Union, an effort in Europe to form a single currency (the union was dissolved in 1927).
Congressman John Kasson of Iowa proposed a $4 gold coin with a weight that matched the Austro-Hungarian 8 florin piece, after struggling to convert American dollars into Austrian florins, says Barrons.
The coin was never approved for full-scale production, but collectors will pay a small fortune for one today. One two-coin set from the Smithsonian sold for nearly $5,000 in September 2021.
9. 1955 doubled die Lincoln penny
This other presidential penny has an obvious double imprinting on the words “Liberty” and “In God We Trust.”
The Spruce Crafts says these coins may have passed inspection on an overnight shift without proper supervision. Thousands were released into circulation in 1955 before anyone noticed.
Between 20,000 to 24,000 were believed to have been originally released, however experts think only 10,000 to 15,000 survived. One sold for a whopping $1,850 on eBay.com in November 2021.
8. 1927-D Saint-Gaudens double eagle
The 1927-D Saint-Gaudens double eagle is a $20 gold coin named after Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who designed the original 1905-1907 model.
This coin is rare because most of its kind are thought to have been melted down during the gold recall of 1933, says Numismatic News. It’s usually worth around $1 million today.
The second-finest known 1927-D Saint-Gaudens double eagle sold for about $3 million in August 2021. The coin was reported to be in excellent condition and color. It was part of the prestigious Louis E. Eliasberg collection.
7. 1894-S Barber dime
Only 24 of these coins were ever created, and they're even more rare today.
The 1894-S Barber dime was designed by engraver Charles E. Barber and produced at the San Francisco Mint, and today only nine still exist. Like other Barber dimes, it features the head of Liberty on one side.
In 2016, one of the famous dimes sold for almost $2 million at a Florida auction, while another one belonging to late Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was bought for $1.32 million in a Chicago auction, reports Fox 2 Detroit.
6. 1913 Liberty head nickel
Only five of these valuable nickels are confirmed to exist in the world, says The Spruce Crafts — so it’s unlikely you’ll spot one camping out in your wallet.
Designed by Charles E. Barber, the Liberty head nickel had the Roman numeral “V” engraved on one side, but U.S. Mint officials failed to add the word “Cents.” Scammers took advantage of the missing value and began plating the coins in gold, attempting to pass them off as $5 coins instead. The mint later added “Cents” to the design.
Rumors, media coverage, famous owners and escalating prices all helped add to the coin’s value among collectors. In 2018, one of these coins (from the Louis E. Eliasberg collection) sold for $4.56 million at a Philadelphia auction.
5. Flowing Hair dollar
The “Flowing Hair” $1 coin is thought to be the first official silver dollar issued by the U.S. government. The design features Miss Liberty with flowing hair on its obverse.
Only 150 to 200 of the 1794 variety are left, while the 1795 coin is more common. The Flowing Hair design was later replaced by the Draped Bust.
The 1795 Flowing Hair dollar can still rack up thousands of dollars online — one sold for nearly $2,500 on eBay.com in September 2021.
4. 1943-S Lincoln wheat penny
During World War II, the U.S. Mint switched to zinc-coated steel coins because copper was needed for ammunition.
However, a few leftover bronze planchets — that is, the round metal disks ready to be struck as a coin — from 1942 made their way into processing and entered circulation.
The Spruce Crafts explains that some of these coins may have gotten wedged in the corners of the bins that moved the planchets around and then were dislodged during processing.
In 2012, rare coin dealer Legend Numismatics sold a highly graded 1943-S Lincoln wheat penny for $1 million to Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob R. Simpson.
3. Morgan silver dollar
This $1 coin, named after designer George T. Morgan, features Liberty on one side and an eagle with its wings outstretched on the reverse.
It was minted from 1878 to 1904 and in 1921, but hundreds of millions were melted down over the years, says The U.S. Sun. A special non-circulating edition was also released in 2021.
This coin’s value might vary depending on its condition, mint year and rarity. One Brilliant Uncirculated 1884 Morgan silver dollar recently sold for $375 on eBay.com, while an 1893-S went for $1,805.
2. 2005-D 5C speared bison
The U.S. Mint decided to bring back the bison reverse design on the Jefferson nickel in 2005, but some of these coins had a distinctive marking that set them apart.
According to the Professional Coin Grading Service, a noticeable die gouge along the back of the bison was found among several of these presidential nickels. Within a couple of days of the discovery, these error coins were selling for more than $100.
Now referred to as “speared bison nickels,” they aren’t usually found in good condition or luster, which adds to their rarity among collectors today. One sold for $495 on eBay.com recently.
1. 2005 Kansas “In God We Rust” state quarter
Poke around in your wallet for one of these state quarters that fell victim to a hilarious blunder.
The U.S. Mint produced a series of special quarters to celebrate each state over 10 years starting in 1999. However, the 2005 Kansas quarter reads "In God We Rust" instead of the U.S. motto "In God We Trust."
Lubricant grease might have clogged up the “T,” preventing the letter from being transferred onto the coin, says The Spruce Crafts.
One of these Kansas error coins sold for $45 on eBay.com in November 2021.
Pennies can become a portfolio
Didn't find any valuable coins in your pockets?
Even if you only have a few ordinary quarters and dimes to spare, remember: Those can generate significant returns when invested over the long term.
That's because time is just as important as the amount you have to invest — and with fractional shares becoming a common investing option, it's possible to get started with whatever you have right now.
Some microinvesting apps will even help you invest your "spare change” from everyday purchases, automating your deposits.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.