Did you know that you could be holding over $100,000 in your pocket change right now? That’s right, some of that money is worth more than its face value. The 1944 Steel Wheat Penny is worth over $110,000, and there are plenty of rare pennies worth slightly less, but still well more than a single cent. But what are the best places to sell rare pennies?
What Makes a Coin Rare?
The 1944 Steel Wheat Penny mentioned above is valuable because there weren’t a lot of them made. In the early 1940’s, copper was needed for military purposes, so it was decided that in 1943, the Mint would produce pennies in steel. These weren’t very popular. People generally didn’t like them and they didn’t work in machines that accepted coins (yes, back then, coins were accepted in vending-type machines). So for 1944, the Mint returned to copper. But some pennies in 1944 were still made of steel, likely because the Mint had some steel planchets left over and didn’t want them to go to waste. So because so few of these were made, if you can find one in good condition, it can be very valuable.
Errors are also valuable. Are there missing elements in the design? Is there indication that the die cracked when the coin was struck? Was the coin struck off center? What happens when you turn the coin over in your hand? The two sides should line up perfectly. If the Mint allowed a coin with an error to get into circulation, this is definitely valuable.
Places to Sell Rare Pennies
Local Coin Shops
Your local coin shop is likely the easiest and best place to go to sell your coin. Remember – your local coin dealer will pay less than the coin is worth. He or she has to be able to resell it, so you will get a bit less. But local coin dealers aren’t only interested in making money – they’re interested in retaining customers. If you plan to continue in rare coin hunting, a local coin shop is a great place to sell rare pennies.
A coin show is a great place to sell rare pennies. A lot of dealers and buyers have booths at coin shows, so this can be an easy one stop shop for checking out what price multiple dealers are willing to give you for your rare pennies. But be warned – it can also be easy to get tempted into buying too. Coin shows frequently have amazing items available for sale. So if you just want to sell, be sure to keep your wallet in your pocket!
If you don’t have a local coin shop, you can check out online dealers. Frequently, you can submit the information about your coin along with some photos and get an estimated quote. This makes it easy to check out multiple dealers. This is a bit of a slower process though, and you likely won’t get paid until they receive your coin and have a chance to check it out. There’s also some risk involved in shipping a coin or any valuable item, so be sure to insure your shipment.
Online auctions like eBay can be a great place to sell rare pennies. If you do a quick search, you will find all sorts of rare coins for sale. As with any auction, one benefit is that demand can drive your price up. But on the other hand, if not very many people are interested in your coin, the price may stay lower than you want. You also have to deal with eBay taking part of the profits, and again, you will have to ship your coin to the buyer.
Online Coin Forums
If you’re active in coin collecting, you likely already belong to an online coin forum, and if so, this can be a great place to sell rare pennies. There is a much more personal connection between buyer and seller and as you get to know people, you will likely feel more comfortable with selling to someone in this fashion. There are always risks, of course – you could get scammed unexpectedly, so make sure that you use protected methods of payment.
Pawn shops are very hit or miss as places to sell rare pennies. You likely won’t get as much here, and it really depends on whether or not the clerk at the pawn shop is familiar with rare coins. Just make sure you do your research first to make sure you find a reputable pawn shop that knows coins and will give you a good price for your money.
Do Your Research
Before you try to find places to sell rare pennies, be sure to search online to find out what the estimated value of your penny is – and remember, that value isn’t just only about what’s on the penny itself, but also the condition of the coin. If it’s in great condition, you’ll definitely get much more money for it. If it looks like it’s been through the ringer and pretty beaten up, be prepared to get significantly less. That doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t try to sell it – you never know what you can get until you try!
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.