All about coins and their values

By jon (jon) on July 15, 2013

Coins are neat, especially if you are a coin collector. There are practically worthless coins, and then there are coins that are worth millions of dollars. Let's look at coins and their values.

There are so many kinds of U.S. coins: half cents, pennies, 2 cent pennies, 3 cent silver coins, 3 cent nickels, nickels, dimes, 20 cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, and dollars. For values or all these coins click here to find them.

Half cent:

The half cent is the smallest denomination of any US coin ever minted. They were minted from 1793-1857, so you will probably never own one unless you spend a lot of money to buy one. The minimum value of a half cent is $32 in very worn condition, but most are worth hundreds of dollars.



The penny has been produced since 1793, that is a long time! The US mint's official name for the penny is "cent", so you might hear people call it a "cent". There will probably one day be no more US pennies made, because the mint is losing money on their manufacture.

In 2011 the mint lost $60,200,000 from minting the penny and in 2012 the mint lost $58,000,000, so it is logically that one day the mint must stop producing the penny.  See Wikipedia for more infromation.

There is the large cent which is a little smaller than a half dollar, which was minted from 1793-1856. The large cent's minimum value is $15 dollars; they are worth a lot of money. The flying eagle cent's minimum value is $17 ( it was only minted from 1856-1858). The 1856 is very valuable because only a few thousand were made. The Indian head cent was minted from 1859-1909. The minimum value of a Indian is $1. The wheat penny was minted from 1909-1958. It has an average value of $2 for a roll, but to get that  price you have to buy a whole box of them. The 1959-present are worth only face value, except for the 1970s small date and the 1972 double die and any other double die errors like the 1970s double die and the 1969s double die. Visit our Wheat Penny Article for more information on that.


2 cent piece:

The 2 cent piece was minted from 1864-1873. In 1864 the motto 'IN GOD WE TRUST' was added to all coins. When they started minting the motto, they minted it with small words, and later switched to large words. Coins with that smaller motto are more vlauable, being worth over $150.

The 1872 2 cent piece is worth over $300 so if you see one, keep it! in 1873 only proof 2 cent pieces were minted. Most 2 cent pieces are worth a minimum of $11 each.


3 cent silver coin:

The three cent silver coin was minted from 1851-1873. Any of the 1863-1872 3 cent silver coins are worth over $300 each. In 1873, only proof three cent silver coins were minted, and only around 600 at that, so they are very valuable, worth over $600 each. The absolute minimum value of a three cent silver coin is $22.


3 cent nickel:

The three cent nickel was minted during the years from 1865-1889. This writer finds it interesting that it was minted at the same time as the 3 cent silver coin. The minimum value of a 3 cent nickel is $11. All of the nickels dating 1882-1887 are worth over $300 each. In 1877, 1878, and 1886, only proof 3 cent nickels were minted. The 1877 proof 3 cent nickel had only 510 nickels minted and they are very valuable. In 1878 2,350 3 cent nickels were minted; this is not to valuable because other 3 cent nickels had less minted. In 1886, 4,290 proof 3 cent nickels were made.


Half dime:

The half dime was minted from 1792-1873. As the name suggests, it was worth $0.05. The half dime was made of silver, just like the dime. There is the Half Disme, Bust and the Seated Half dime.  The half disme (yes, that is the correct spelling!) was the first half dime. It is worth near a million dollars! Most of the bust dimes dated 1794-1805 are worth around $1,000 each. But after 1805 their minimum value is only around $40. The seated half dime has only 2 rare dates: the 1853p no arrows and the 1853o no arrows. The minimum value of a seated half dime is $10.



In the 1860s, the civil war drove silver and gold prices up so high that the mint was losing money making coins. In the early 1860s all coins were made of silver or gold. In 1865, Congress started making the five-cent fractional currency. Spencer M. Clark who was the head of the Currency Bureau (today called the Bureau of Engraving and Printing) placed his own portrait on the design. Then after making the 2 and three cent coins the mint decided to make a 5 cent coin with regular metal wich they made as the nickel. The nickel was minted since 1866. That means that it was minted at the same time as the half dime, so there were two coins with the same value. Then in 1873 the mint stopped minting the half dime. The first nickel design was the shield nickel. The minimum value of a shield nickel is $12. The 1879-1881 nickels are all rare. The minimum value of a v nickel is around $1.50 but the 1913 v nickel is worth over 3 million dollars! Also the 1912s is pretty rare. The minimum value of a buffalo nickel is around half a dollar. There is not much of a value in the Jefferson nickel. Visit our Nickel Article for more information.



The Dime has been minted since 1792. The disme dime was minted in 1792 but was never circulated. The value of a disme dime is around $500,000 for the silver kind and and $125,000 for the copper kind. The minimum value for a bust dime is $22. The minimum value for a seated liberty dime is $11. The minimum value for a barber dime is around $2.50 which is around the value of the silver metal content.

The key dates to me are the dimes worth over $100 and here they are: all of the 1796-1807, 1895o, 1916d, and the 1921d is worth $60. This does not include coins that came into existence some other way like the mint directer minting them to create a rarity. The 1870s is an example and the 1894s. Also the 1913d v nickel was minted this way.


Twenty cent piece:

The twenty cent coin was minted from 1875-1876. They stopped minting it because it looked liked the quarter. After circulation the goverment melted at least 1/3 of all the twenty cent coins made. The value of a 1875 is around $200, but only 12 proofs were minted in 1875 at the San Francisco mint.



The Quarter has been minted since 1796 and has been through quite a few different designs: The Bust, Seated Liberty, Barber, Standing Liberty, and the Washington Quarter. There are two kinds of Bust Quarters: Draped bust and Capped bust. The Draped bust is the oldest US Quarter and has a minimum value of around $400 while the Capped Bust has a minimum value of $80. The Seated liberty Quarter has a minimum value of $15. The Barber Quarter minimum value is $5.50. The minimum value of a Standing Liberty Quarter is $4.80, which is really the value of the silver content's melt value.

The Washington Quarter has no extra value unless it is an error or is a 1932d or s (both are worth a lot). But Washington Quarters with a date from 1932-1964 are 90% silver and worth their melt value. The list of key dates that are worth more than $100 are: 1796-1815 are all key dates, 1896s, 1913s, 1916, 1921, and the 1923s. This does not include errors or Quarters that came into existence some other way, like the mint directer minting them to create a rarity. I don't know any Quarters that are like this.


Half Dollar:

The Half dollar has been minted since 1794. The only coin that has been minted for longer is the cent.

In the early 1800s, the half dollar and the dollar were minted with the same dies from earlier years, so we don't know how many were actualy minted each year. For example they said that 150,000 1804 half dollars were minted but not one is known to exist.

There have been several varieties of the half dollar: the Bust, Seated Liberty, Barber, Walking Liberty, Franklin, and Roosevelt half dollars. The minimum value of a Bust half dollar is $42. The minimum value of a Seated Liberty Half Dollar is $28. The minimum value of a Barber Half Dollar is $24. The value of a Walking liberty, Franklin, and Roosevelt Half Dollars are worth their silver melt value. The key dates are: all of the 1794-1807 Half Dollars, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1892o, 1892s, 1893s, 1897o, 1897s, 1915, 1921, and the 1921d.



The dollar has been minted since 1794. Like the half dollar, the dollar mintages are unknown because of the mint using the dies from the earlier years.

The US mint produced dollars from 1794-1803, then stopped minting dollars until 1836. The flowing hair dollar was minted from 1794-1795. Many of you may know that the 1933 gold Saint-Gaudens double eagle is the most valuable coin in existance, but this is not actually true! The 1794 dollar was sold on January 24, 2013 for $10 million.

The bust half dollar was minted from 1795-1804, the minimum value of a bust dollar is $600. The 1804 dollar is worth around $4 million. The Seated Dollar was minted from 1836-1873. They have a minimum value of $180. The Morgan Dollar was minted from 1878–1904 and again in 1921. The minimum value of a Morgan Dollar is $20. The Peace Dollar was minted from 1921-1935 and again in 1964. The minimum value of a Peace Dollar is $20. There was also the Eisenhower dollar (1971–1978) and the Susan B Anthony dollar (1979–1981; 1999), but they are not worth any thing unless they are proof or an error. There is also the gold dollar but I am not covering gold in this article; that will be another article. There are other dollars minted recently but they are not of interest to this author and hence are ignored.

Images courtesy of wikipedia and licensed under the GNU FDL license.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
No Tading Here, But Loved The Article nap Jul 18, 2013 4:03 PM 8
Questions Sharon Jul 17, 2013 4:11 PM 6
Trading coins? jon Jul 15, 2013 3:50 PM 1


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