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What Are My Coins Worth?

Your old change can add up to big dollars fast

by Christopher Lancette
Published: Last Updated on

Pre-1964 American dimes, quarters, half dollar and dollar coins are worth more than their face value

Start cleaning the drawers and shelves of about any house someone has called home for decades and you’re likely to find at least a few, if not a jar full, of old coins. Most of the time they’ll be American coins. A lot of people unknowingly just toss them into coin cashing machines at their local grocery stores.

That’s a mistake.

Even heavily worn American dimes, quarters, half-dollar and dollar coins made before 1964 are worth more than their face value. That’s because they were made with some amount of actual silver in them. (Nickels and pennies, including wheat pennies, are generally worth only their face value as they don’t contain silver.)

How dealers determine what to pay you for your pre-1965 coins

Dealers like us base our rates on a percentage of the “melt value” of those coins — the basic junk drawer coins. We’ll talk about other types of coin collections in a minute. The coins we buy are usually going to end up getting melted at some point down the line so that the silver can be extracted and repurposed. We’re not likely to sell these basic coins to other collectors. They want better stuff.

The price dealers pay changes by the hour, just as silver (and gold prices) constantly go up and down. Brick-and-mortar coin shops may sometimes pay less than other dealers because they have high costs to cover. Pawn shops pay the worst (do not ever sell gold or silver to your local pawn shop, and probably not anything else, either). Dealers also consider the volume of coins you have to sell: the more you have, the more we can often pay.

Coin dealers consider a number of other factors, too, but, at the moment we’re writing this, dealers like us might pay anywhere from 80 cents to $1.25 for a single dime. Imagine a baggie full of dimes and the worth of your coin collection increases in a flash. Dealers might pay at this second anywhere from $2 to $3 or more for quarters, $4 to $7 for half-dollar coins, and $12 to $25 for dollar coins.

Values of proof sets and silver proof sets

What about yearly “proof sets” of coins — the kind that every grandparent seems to buy for a new grandchild. They are generally worth only their face value and are a waste of money to buy. Sentimental value does not equal financial value. If they are SILVER proof sets, though, the coins do carry a silver value. Other kinds of coins carry a “numismatic” (coin collector) value above their face value, too. (The same goes for coins graded by professionally grading companies and placed in cases, along with pre-1964 junk drawer coins produced by certain U.S. mints.

A client called us last year and asked if we would buy her husband’s coin collection. She said she was hoping to make a few thousand dollars to give to their children. We visited her home providing the personal, exclusive concierge service we offer — and were stunned to see that her husband had collected silver dollars.

And she was stunned to receive our offer of more than $15,000!

Got some great collectibles including vintage lunch boxes that you would like to sell? Contact us.

Learn more about selling all kinds of collectibles in Sell Us Your Stuff.

Learn more about liquidating entire estates in our Estate Liquidation and Downsizing Guide.

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Orion’s Attic is a full-service estate liquidation, downsizing and home cleanout company based in Silver Spring, Maryland. We also buy antiques and collectibles.  We serve Montgomery County and the entire metro Washington D.C. area (D.C., Maryland, Virginia).


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