Looking through Your Spare Change for Coin Treasure


Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been many shortages that consumers and businesses have experienced. One of them is a coin shortage, and it’s still continuing today. There are good reasons to turn your change in at the bank or the store, but before you do, you may want to check it for coin treasure. You’d be surprised at what might be hiding in your spare change.

The Great Coin Shortage

The reason for the coin shortage banks and businesses are experiencing now is two-fold. First, the lockdowns meant that the free circulation of cash and coins was halted. People didn’t go to the store as frequently to buy things. They ordered their groceries and other items online and paid for them with credit or debit cards. Some shunned using cash because they felt it might spread COVID-19.

Additionally, from March to June of 2020 the U.S. Mint slowed the production of new coins to protect their employees from exposure to the coronavirus. New coin production was down.  Coin deposits to the Federal Reserve were also down. 

Banks and many businesses like truck stops, grocery stores, and laundromats depend on cash and coins to operate, so a shortage makes it difficult to continue to offer cash transactions. Consumers have seen notices that only card transactions can be made or that no cash back is available. For consumers who can’t pay electronically, this means going without necessary products or services. Clearly, physical coins are not yet obsolete despite the societal shift to using digital money.

In fact, the Federal Reserve created a U.S. Coin Task Force to encourage the public to return their coins to circulation. If you have coins sitting around in a jar or under your couch cushions, now would be a good time to collect them and take them to the bank for the good of our economy. Take a good look at them before you turn them in, though. There may be some collectible gems in the mix. 

Searching for Coin Treasure 

In our last blog we talked about coin grading, which is the process of determining a coin’s condition (and value). Part of finding coin treasure is knowing what to look for, and that takes some education about which coins are valuable and in demand. A good tool for this is A Guide Book of United States Coins, otherwise known as the “Red Book.” Strike It Rich with Pocket Change by Ken Potter is another great resource for getting familiar with die varieties. 

Take your time studying the Red Book and then decide what kind of coins you want to hunt down. Many coin collectors have begun the hobby collecting Lincoln wheat cents. There are so many varieties of this ubiquitous coin. You will find some of them in your spare change. Jot down some of the more valuable or key dates and search for those – or collect them all. Fortunately, coins, unlike cars or antiques, do not take up much space. If you want to get ambitious with your collecting, you can without renting a storage unit to store your finds in.

While you’re going through your change, look for anything out of the ordinary, including different colors or designs, older coins, or coins with errors. The vast majority of “error coins” you find will turn out to be damaged coins, but it’s worth keeping an eye out. Older coins may or may not be valuable, but they can be fun to identify anyway. 

The more time you take looking over your coins and becoming familiar with the differences between them, the better you will be at identifying valuable coins. Patience is a good virtue to cultivate with coin collecting. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find a rare or valuable coin immediately. The hunt is often the most satisfying part of any collecting hobby.

If we can be of help finding or evaluating coins in your collection, don’t hesitate to call us at Grand Rapids Coins. We love coins and talking about coins with fellow collectors. We believe coin collecting is for everyone, so contact us anytime. 

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