Have you ever accidentally found a fortune? It might just be hiding in your stack of pennies. It might seem a little counterintuitive to think of a copper penny as an oddity, but it certainly was in 1943, when copper was needed for the war effort. That year, the U.S. Mint made pennies out of steel, then coated them in zinc for extra shine. However, it also accidentally made a copper batch. Very few of them ever left the facility, so the ones that did are worth—well, a pretty penny. Real 1943 copper pennies can go for up to $10,000, but be warned: There are plenty of fakes floating around.
Even if they’re only worth one cent, pennies actually have some genius household uses.
2. 1955 DOUBLED DIE PENNY
You may think you’re experiencing blurred vision if you come across a doubled die penny, but it’s really just a case of slightly askew alignment during the minting process that results in a doubled image. In 1955, 20,000 to 24,000 doubled die pennies were released to the public, mostly as change given from cigarette vending machines. The doubling is visible on the letters and numbers almost entirely, with the bust of Lincoln remaining unaffected. This particular coin in “extremely fine” condition could be worth about $1800.
3. 2004 WISCONSIN STATE QUARTER WITH EXTRA LEAF
State quarter collectors, you might want to check out your coin from the Badger State. (Take our State Nicknames quiz.) Of the 453 million Wisconsin quarters minted in 2004, thousands were somehow marked with an extra leaf on a husk of corn; some speculate a Mint employee did it on purpose. Depending on the quality of the coin, these “extra leaf” coins have sold for up to $1499. You should take special note of your pocket change if you live in the Tucson, AZ area—approximately 5000 of the coins have been discovered there.
4. 2009 KEW GARDENS 50P COIN
Americans haven’t cornered the market on rare coins. In 2009, the Royal Mint released just 210,000 50p coins celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Emblazoned with the Kew Gardens Pagoda, the coin is a great return on that 50p investment—it can go for about 150 pounds on eBay.
Here’s the net worth of each member of the royal family.
5. 2005 “IN GOD WE RUST” KANSAS STATE QUARTER
This 2005 error wasn’t meant to be a statement on religion or government—it was simply the result of grease build-up in the coin die, filling the T in the word “Trust.” Grease build-up errors aren’t that uncommon, and they’re not always worth much. In this case, however, the mistake is in a pretty interesting place, which makes the coins worth more to some collectors.
They’re not going to fund your early retirement, by any means, but an extra $100 in your pocket is nothing to sneeze at.
6. 2000 AUSTRALIAN $1/10 MULE
Because of an error at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, a number of $1 coins were printed with the Queen Elizabeth II obverse usually reserved for 10-cent pieces (a hybrid that numismatists call a “mule”). The result is a double rim on the “heads” side of the coin, for which collectors have paid nearly $3000.
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Before you check your coins, you should probably know that your wallet is full of germs.
7. 2008 UNDATED 20P COIN
In November 2008, the Royal Mint misprinted somewhere between 50,000 and 250,000 20p pieces by accidentally omitting the date. Because there are so many of them in circulation, you won’t get rich off of finding one of these—but making 100 pounds off 20p is still a pretty good deal.
8. 1982 NO MINT MARK ROOSEVELT DIME
In the U.S., all coins are printed with a letter indicating the Mint at which they were made. “S” indicates San Francisco, “P” is Philadelphia, and “D” means Denver. (There are some retired Mints as well.) However, in 1982, the Philadelphia Mint forgot to put their identifying mark on a Roosevelt dime, the first error of that kind that was ever made on a U.S. coin. It’s unknown how many were actually distributed, but up to 10,000 of them were found in the Sandusky, Ohio, area after they were given as change at the Cedar Point amusement parks. Though thousands of them were released, a Roosevelt dime lacking a mint mark can sell for up to $300. Plus, this other type of dime could be worth $2 million.
9. 1997 DOUBLE-EAR LINCOLN PENNY
There were a lot of abnormalities about Abraham Lincoln’s appearance: He was uncommonly tall and had a posthumously diagnosed facial asymmetry condition, among other things. (Plus, did you know there’s a typo on his memorial?) But he didn’t have double ear lobes, which is why a 1997 penny that appears to give him such a feature is worth up to $250.
10. 1999-P CONNECTICUT BROADSTRUCK QUARTER
Another state quarter worth more than 25 cents is a 1999 Connecticut quarter that was “broadstruck,” or not quite lined up properly with the machine. If you’ve got one in your possession, you could be $25 richer.
11. 2005 SPEARED BISON JEFFERSON NICKEL
Are you the owner of a 2005 nickel that looks a little bit like the buffalo on the “tails” side was stabbed? That’s due to a gouge or deep scratch that was on the die when the coins were minted. Though they typically sell for much less, a Speared Bison Jefferson Nickel has sold for up to $1,265. Another kind of “Buffalo nickel” could also be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
12. ROOSEVELT SILVER DIMES AND WASHINGTON SILVER QUARTERS
These days, dimes and quarters are made from an alloy of copper and nickel—no silver is involved at all. But prior to 1965, 10-cent and 25-cent pieces were at least 90 percent Ag, which means they have worth on the metals market. They’re not especially rare, but you can still offload the coins for significantly more than their face value thanks to their composition. (Here are 22 other things you used to own that are worth a fortune now.)
13. 1983 “NEW PENCE” 2P COIN
In 1983, the Royal Mint accidentally made 2-pence coins with a die used on the reverse from 1971-1981. It read “New Pence” instead of “Two Pence.” The mistake means the coins could be valued at up to £700 (or $944) today. If you think that’s a lot, wait till you see these old records are worth.
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14. 2007 “GODLESS” PRESIDENTIAL DOLLAR COIN
In God We Trust? Not in 2007, apparently. That was the year that the new George Washington dollar coins were released in the U.S.; an unknown number of them were accidentally minted without the standard inscription “In God We Trust.” In 2007, experts predicted the flawed coins would eventually sell for about $50 when the market settled down. The prediction was pretty accurate—because tens of thousands of the coins have been found. The “Missing Edge Lettering” dollars, as they are officially called, go for anywhere from $29 to $228.
15. 1992 “CLOSE AM” PENNY
Coins have to be minted very precisely, and any deviation from precision raises collectors’ eyebrows. In 1992, the spacing between the “A” and the “M” in “United States of America” on the reverse side of the penny was closer together than usual, hence the nickname “Close AM.” There are only five known examples of the 1992-P (minted in Philadelphia); when one was auctioned on eBay in 2012, it sold for $24,056.63.
A 1992-D (minted in Denver) Close AM is also a great find. Fifteen of them are known to exist; one of them sold for $20,700 in 2012.
Here are some more unbelievable facts about money.