By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez, Editor
For many, it’s hard to imagine that there are any coins worth looking for in circulation these days. Many of the hobby’s more seasoned veterans remember a time five or six decades ago when 90% silver coins appeared in regular circulation and classic issues such as Buffalo nickels, Barber coinage, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters, and others could be found with some frequency.
Today’s circulating coins may look different, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time to turn to bank rolls, which are still fertile searching grounds for patient coin collectors. Here are just three types of wonderful coins you’re likely to find in bank rolls:
Errors and varieties – Do you know how many doubled dies, repunched mintmarks, off-center strikes, and other valuable varieties and errors are floating around? Perhaps more than most collectors would guess. Pick up a copy of Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties (Bill Fivaz, Whitman Publishing), check out error dealer Fred Weinberg’s site, or surf on over to variety expert John Wexler’s online hub and then start diving through bank rolls with some real knowledge. With a little time, you may start finding some really interesting – possibly valuable – oddities that would pass right by the eyes of collectors who aren’t astute cherrypickers!
Silver coins – Believe it or not, there are still silver coins in circulation. Hard to find? Yes, but they’re out there, and they’re most likely to be found in rolls. The best candidates are wartime 35% silver Jefferson five-cent coins struck from 1942 through 1945 (these have a large mintmark above the dome of Monticello) and half dollars. Many non-collectors don’t know the difference between a regular, base-metal Jefferson nickel and 35% silver five-cent coin – thus why many 35% Jeffersons are still available if you know where to look for them. And half dollars? While they haven’t widely circulated in decades, they can still be bought in rolls, and half dollar rolls are well known as lucrative hunting grounds for silver stackers!
Foreign coins – While most foreign finds one will make searching rolls in the United States aren’t necessarily as valuable as the silver coins, errors, and varieties mentioned above, they are nonetheless excellent pieces to pick from circulation and can help keep roll hunting fun. Besides, who’s to say you won’t find some valuable foreign coins in US coin rolls? It’s perfectly reasonable to hypothesize that, say, a 1955 Queen Elizabeth II No Shoulder Fold Canadian cent (worth about $80 or more) could turn up in an otherwise ordinary-looking roll of “pennies.”
And, of course, it costs almost nothing to look through rolls. All are obtainable a face value through your local bank, and any unwanted coins can be cashed in for more rolls. The cost of these valuable finds? Only face value. So, what are you waiting for? Start looking for treasure in those coin rolls!