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When talking about the most valuable US coins, it's important to understand what makes a coin rare. You sometimes have to get a magnifying glass to see some of the small differences that can make a coin valuable.

Definitions

Most Valuable US Coins

There are a few terms you need to understand when learning about the most valuable US coins. These have to do with the minting of coins.

  • Mint mark: This is a symbol or letter that tells where the coin was minted. Coins today will either have a “D” for Denver, an “S” for San Francisco, a “P” for Philadelphia, or a “W” for West Point, but there are on collector coins only. Sometimes the “P” was not put on coins from the original mint in Philadelphia.
  • Older mint marks are “CC” for Carson City, NV; “D” for Dahlonega, GA (gold coins only); “C” for Charlotte, NC (gold coins only); and “O” for New Orleans.
  • Obverse: This is the front or the “heads” side of a coin. The back of the coin, or “tails,” is called the reverse.
  • Doubling: There are three words referring to doubling: mechanical, machine, and strike. Doubling occurs when something happens during the striking of the coin and the image gets on the coin twice. This can happen if the coin shifts position or the die gets out of the proper alignment from either shaking or improper maintenance. Some people see this as damage, but others see it as a rarity making the coin valuable, especially if it is doubled on one side only.
  • Die: This is the stamp used in making coins.

What are the Most Valuable US Coins

The following coins are listed with the most valuable first. Values can change, so these estimates may not always be totally accurate. In addition, when bidding is involved, a coin can bring a much higher price than thought if someone really wants it.

  1. The 1969 S Lincoln penny with a doubled die obverse is very rare. The mint mark is not doubled as they were added later, though counterfeit coins have the wrong mint mark. Value is estimated at $35,000.
  2. The 1970 S Lincoln penny has a small date and doubled die obverse. Only one side is doubled, which makes it rare. When doubling occurs on both sides, it is usually a sign of strike doubling and is not valuable. Value is around $2,000.
  3. The 1972 Lincoln penny has a doubled die obverse and no mint mark. To identify this coin, look for a slight crack near the edge above the “D” in “UNITED,” which is a die marker. This coin is valued at $500.
  4. There is an extra leaf on the 2004 D Wisconsin state quarter. The die had a defect that makes it seem that there is an extra leaf on the ear of corn on the lower left-hand side. This is on the reverse of the coin and the value is between $200-$300.
  5. A Lincoln penny was coined using a proof die between 1998 and 2000. The “AM” in America is slightly separated from the rest of the word. The 1999 is the most valuable. Values range from $5 to $600.
  6. Another in the list of 10 most valuable US coins is the 1982 Roosevelt dime with no mint mark. The value for this coin ranges from $30-$50.
  1. Lettering errors on any of the presidential dollars can add value to the coin. The errors occur on the edge when either the letters are not there or when they have been struck several times. These range from $50-$3,000 depending on the value of the president.
  2. The 1995 Lincoln penny with a double die obverse is more common. The doubling is obvious in the words “Liberty” and “In God We Trust.” In un-circulated condition, these can bring $20-$50.
  3. A roll of uncirculated state quarters can bring up to $50. Demand for certain states and prices change from time to time.
  4. Half dollars dated before 1965 are 90 percent silver and half dollars from 1965-1970 are 40 percent silver. Their current value depends on the current price of silver.