Recently on Facebook I saw an article entitled "Go Check Your Change Right Now. If You Have One Of THESE Quarters, You’ll Be $300 Richer…"

http://americanoverlook.com/go-check-your-change-right-now-if-you-have-one-of-these-quarters-youll-be-300-more-rich/65840

IF the above link is no longer active you can download a PDF of the article here, as I took the liberty of saving it to PDF for posterity’s sake.

This article couldn’t be more misleading. This author literally strikes out on every coin he talks about. This is just the kind of misinformation someone would read and then spend tons of money on a common coin because they didn’t know any better.

To address the inaccuracies in this article we have to start with some basics to coin collecting.

The United States Mint:
The US Mint currently has 4 active locations where coins are produced. Philadelphia, PA which was the very first location of the U.S. Mint. Then there are three branch mints located in Denver, CO, San Francisco, CA, and West Point, NY.

In many years previous there were other branches of the U.S. Mint in Carson City, NV, Dahlonega, GA, and Charlotte NC. The Carson City mint was shut down 122 years ago, the other two were shut fown during the Civil War.

So today, as mentioned, we have the Philadelphia mint, Denver Branch, San Francisco Branch and the West Point Branch. This means coins minted for the U.S. can only be minted at one of these four places. This knowledge will be needed further on in this article.

Minted, not Printed:
The process by which the mint takes little round metal disks, called planchets, and makes coins from them is called the MINTING process, not the printing process or the stamping process. Coins are minted. In the above article the author uses the word printed 3 times. This is grossly inaccurate.

Condition:
Condition is key. As we’ll cover in the above article, coins do not have a blanket value. The condition of that coin is absolute key to establishing its value. Some might say rarity also is key, which is 100% true, but for the sake of this short article, we will focus on coins of like date and mint mark.

As an example for this point, let’s talk about the 1932 D Washington quarter. The 1932 D is *the* key date and mint mark for a Washington quarter collection. Only 436,800 were minted, compared to the Philadelphia mintage of 5,404,000. That’s LESS than half a million compared to over 5 MILLION. The 1932 D can be as valuable as $145K but also can only sell for $38. The difference….condition. Condition usually rests on one thing…how much was that coin used for money as opposed to sitting in someone’s collection. Without getting into too much detail, look at the coins below and you will begin to understand why there is such a difference in the price for these coins.

1932DPCGSMS66

This coin is graded PCGS MS 66 (4 grade points away from a “perfect” coin) and recently sold for close to $100,000 dollars. According to PCGS records there are only two 1932 D Washington quarters graded by them at this grade (MS 66) and none higher. That makes this coin a rarity in mintage AND condition.

But this coin is actually for sale with a buy it now price of $38.25 on eBay as of the time of this writing.

1932DEbayAG

This coin, though part of the small mintage of 436,800 coins, is only worth what a collector is going to pay for it, and someone will take the above coin home for $38.25. The difference between the two coins picture are their condition. One is uncirculated and the other is heavily circulated.


So let’s dig in to the article coin by coin.

The IN GOD WE RUST error:
The first coin this author mentions is a statehood quarter which has a mint error on the obverse of the coin (heads side). To the right of the bust of Washington (the back of his head), instead of IN GOD WE TRUST the coin reads IN GOD WE RUST. The T from the word TRSUT is missing.

There are three problems with what the author writes out about this coin.

The author is errant right off the bat by saying, “When a Kansas pressing machine…” Never, at any time, has a U.S. Coin been minted (not printed or pressed) in Kansas. If you recall the information shared above regarding the US Mint and its branches there are only 4 possible places where a modern Statehood quarter (minted between the years 1998-2008) could have been minted. And, since the coin pictured in the article bares a clear mint mark of P, just below the error, IN GOD WE RUST, we know for a fact this coin was minted at the Philadelphia mint. So right off the bad the author is showing their lack of knowledge about U.S. Coins and coin collecting.

My guess here is that the author mixed up his facts or details and meant to say “When the U.S. Mint’s pressing machine had a grease smudge, it created a collection of rare Kansas State quarters now worth $100 each!” The problem is he still had two more errors in his statement about this coin.

The author states that the “…pressing machine had a grease smudge…” This is far from accurate. But the error does have something to do with grease. The actual error type is called a grease filled die error. Dies are used to mint coins. The Dies have the inverse image of the coin pressed into them. So a high point on the coin, i.e. IN GOD WE TRUST, is actually a recessed area on the coin die. Over time, machine grease (goop, dirt and grime that come from the operation of the coining press) can sometimes fall into the coining chamber (where the little round disk goes to become a coin). Some times that “grease” will get picked up in the recesses (low points) of the coin die, and over time will harden and fill in some of the coin design. In the case of this error, the grease filled in the T of the word TRUST. When a coin is minted with a grease filled die the area where the grease is sitting will not transfer any of its design to the coin. In this case, leaving the motto IN GOD WE TRUST without a T for the word TRUST.

Lastly the author claims these errors are worth $100 each! As coin errors go, this is a great error. They aren’t too common, which creates a bit of rarity. It’s also an error that's big, in the sense that it’s detectable without any magnification, easy to see. But, as you can see below I found a couple of these error coins found by searching eBay’s sold\completed auctions. My search results were sorted by the most expensive to the least expensive. So, the most expensive coin sold with this error is at the top of the list. In my results, the top, most expensive, coin sold on Oct. 15 for $70. Below it is another one of the error coins with $35 marked out in green which means the seller accepted a best offer which was less than $35 dollars.

rust

So, to sum it up, yes there was a Kansas state quarter, but it was minted in Philadelphia. Some of these Kansas state quarters were minted with a grease filled die and caused the word TRUST to become RUST. Yes, they are collectible, and there is a demand for them in the coin error market. But they are not worth $100 each.

IN GOD WE RUST Error coin minted in Kansas each worth $100 – STRIKE ONE!


The Wisconsin extra leaf errors:

The next coin the author writes about is the Wisconsin state quarter with extra leaf (both high and low). The error specifically in his text is “If there’s an extra line, that coin is worth $300!”

Well, no, not really. While these errors are real, and do bring a premium if found, you are not guaranteed $300, and  certainly not if the coin has not been graded by a company like PCGS.

Again using eBay completed\sold auction listings, with the results sorted from lowest price realized to highest price realized you can see from the below screenshot that the top three results go from $9.25 (buyer paid $7 for the coin plus $2.95 for shipping) to $45.94 for a whole roll of them!

extraleaf002

The first *SINGLE* coin lot in this list to hit the $300 mark is an NGC graded MS 66 coin which sold for $403.74. The sold listings from this point on are mostly all multi coin lots. So clearly if you find this coin in your change, you will have an error coin which could be worth a premium...just not s $300 premium.

Some readers may be saying at this point…”hey wait, I see coins in my search that are in plastic holders that went for $200 and $255, and $275 and some for even more. So why would the one I found in change not be worth $300. This goes back to the above discussion on condition. All of the coins that you are seeing in those plastic holders have a grade on them that begins with MS. MS is a two letter acronym for Mint State, which means it’s not been used as money. A graded mint state coin has most likely come from a Mint bag, Mint Roll or Mint uncirculated set. The coin you find in your change will not be a mint state coin. As mentioned above in my blurb about condition, your quarter will have circulation damage to it, thus lowering its value drastically due to its condition.

Wisconsin Quarter with an extra leaf error coins definitely worth $300 – STRIKE TWO!


The 1943 Steel Lincoln Cent:

The next coin discussed in the article is the 1943 steel penny. While his facts are correct in that 2 years before the end of WWII (1943) the US mint did produce Lincoln Wheat Cents out of steel to conserve copper for the war effort, however, they are not all worth $10.00.

Certainly, this version of the Lincoln Wheat cent stands out because of its drastic departure from the copper cent everyone is so used to seeing. They have a certain “novelty” to them, so a lot of times when you will see these in antique malls, or a coin shops, and they will inevitably be marked with a higher price than normal for a collectible Lincoln Wheat Cent. The novelty of the coin draws interest and unsuspecting buyers are inclined to pay more. However, even in mint state, a steel Lincoln penny is not guaranteed to bring you $10. Again using eBay I ran a search on “1943 Lincoln Wheat cent BU UNC.” BU and UNC are descriptors which stand for Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) and Uncirculated (UNC). These two terms will filter out coins form our eBay search which have been circulated and worn. So our list will only have coins in the nicest condition.

As you can see with the results filtered and sorted the same way as before (priced lowest to highest) the top three coins only brought at a max $3.49.

steel001

To get to a realized price of $10, I had to scroll down further where I found the following three listings.

steel002

The first listing in the above screenshot is a graded MS 65 coin. I was able to find out realized a price of $11.00 + $2.49 for shipping, so a total of $13.49. The second in this list was a whole roll! That roll only realized a price of $13.54 ($11 plus $2.54 for shipping), which is only 27 cents per coin. And lastly the third is another graded PCGS MS 65 and it only brought a total of $13.88 combined with shipping.

1943 Steel Lincoln Pennies are worth $10 each – STRIKE THREE


Franklin Halves for $125 each and Silver Quarters for $65 each?

These last two claims by the author are so far out of the ballpark it’s ridiculous. I’m not even going to go deep in to this one, but if you do a search on eBay for active listings (something you could buy right now) for Franklin Half Dollars (which are 90% silver) or silver Washington Quarters you will find plenty of each coin that you can Buy Now for way less than $125 or $65 respectively.
While there are issues of each of these coins which will bring those prices, it all comes down to the above basic discussion on the condition of the coin along with the rarity of the mintage. Another factor is whether or not the coin has been authenticated and graded.

Franklin Halves are all worth $125 now and silver Washington Quarters are all worth $65 now – STRIKE FOUR and FIVE


Conclusion:

My point to this article is by no means to discourage you from looking through your pocket change. In fact I welcome that and hope that you do. Pocket change is the gateway through which many collectors have come to the hobby. There are definitely coins found in pocket change which are worth more than their face value, and hopefully you find some of those coins.

My goal in writing this was to hopefully keep you from spending $125 on an uncirculated 1948 Franklin half dollar which is really only worth around $20-$30. As always, though, the best way to know what they’re worth is to start by getting a Red Book guide of United States coins and use it as a guide post to see what your coin is actually worth.

Happy coin hunting!