Who wouldn’t want to stumble upon a hidden treasure that earns them some serious cash? Whether it’s a collectible gathering dust in your cabinet or a pile of books you haven’t picked up in years, there are a ton of potential jackpots out there. In fact, you may have a gem or two jingling around in your purse right now.
We’re talking about certain coins that are worth way more than just a few cents — you just have to know what you’re looking for. Luckily for you, we’ve got the scoop on some of the most valuable coins and what it is about each one that makes them so special for you to study up on. Hey, you don’t have to foolishly let a nickel that could earn you thousands of dollars go for just five measly cents, do you?
Take a look below and give all of your coins a good look before spending them!
1943 Copper Penny
During World War II, copper was badly needed for ammunition and equipment, so they stopped making pennies out of copper and used steel coated in zinc instead. But according to the United States Mint, about 40 copper pennies were accidentally struck before the steel was swapped into the presses that year — and if you happen to find one you've hit the jackpot.
In 2017, a 1943 copper penny sold for $282,000 at an auction in Denver, according to news reports. Unfortunately, these pennies are easily and often faked. Counterfeiters will shave down the numbers on other pennies from 1948 and '49, or cover up pennies from 1943 with copper plating. The US Mint recommends using a magnet to test whether it’s actually copper. If the coin sticks to the magnet, it’s a fake — if it doesn’t stick, there’s a chance you’ve found the real deal.
Wisconsin State Quarters
All the tail sides of Wisconsin quarters feature images of a dairy cow, a big hunk of cheese, and an ear of corn. Usually you will see one leaf on each side of the partially shucked veg, but a minting mistake added an extra line either above or below the left leaf on some, which makes it seem like there’s a third leaf above or below it.
According to CoinTrackers, the higher “extra leaf” can be worth up to $300, while the lower one is worth up to $250. They don't explain why there’s a $50 difference, but there’s no denying both of those amounts are still a sweet chunk of change. They also don’t specify exactly how many of these coins were released into circulation, just “many,” so there could be a real chance you’ve got one sitting in your purse, wallet, or coin jar.
Kansas State Quarters
While minting some 2005 Kansas quarters, built-up gunk and grease in the die-cast caused the “T” in the word “trust” to appear erased. That’s right, instead of reading, “In God We Trust,” the coins produced on this faulty mechanism read, “In God We Rust.” Yikes! Experts at the Muncie, Indiana, Coin and Stamp Club admit that this error is indeed a rarity.
A quick scroll through eBay listings shows these coins going for $25, $50, and up to $75 a pop. That’s definitely still more than you would have gotten out of the coin just using it to pay a parking meter or vending machine.
1913 Liberty Head V Nickel
The chances of finding a 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel in your own coin purse is pretty rare — in fact, it's the rarest coin in the United States. But that’s what also makes it worth a lot more money. We’re talking $4.5 million dollars, the amount one of these shiny nickels went for at auction in 2018.
According to the American Numismatic Association, the nickels have a pretty mysterious story behind them. The design (which you can click here to see) was supposed to be replaced with the Buffalo head nickel that year, but at least five of the liberty designs somehow made it through the minting process anyway. No one is really sure how or why, though. Call us optimists, but we wonder if there aren’t more than just the five known nickels with this design floating out there in the world.
Sacagawea Dollar Coins
The golden coin featuring Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is still in circulation, but spotting one is pretty rare. Although most of them are still only worth a buck when you do find one, there are some out there that could earn you plenty more than face value.
Back when the United States Mint first began issuing the coin back in 2000, they partnered with General Mills to release 5,500 of them in Cheerios cereal boxes. No one is sure why, but about 60 or 70 of those dollar coins featured rare extra detailing on the tail of the eagle depicted on the backside.
According to the Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS), it wasn’t until 2005 when a collector named Tom LeLory noticed the slightly altered design on some of these “Cheerios Dollars” (as they’ve since become known). Where most of them have only vertical lines on the eagle’s tail feathers, these special versions include horizontal detailing. Again, not on bird’s the wings, but the very bottom feathers.
PCGS lists an average selling price as $7,500. Not too shabby for a humble buck! You can also see plenty of these coins for sale on eBay with prices between $350 and $7,000 — but you have to take an extra close look at those tail feathers to know whether they’re the real deal or not.