Guide to US Coins - Coin Values

US coin value guide. rare us coins.

United States Coins – from Classic US coins to Modern coins

Hold a coin and travel through time. A silver 3-cent coin takes you to the Civil War, and a Peace dollar brings you to the exciting 1920s. US coins are special because they help tell America's story. From the start of our country, George Washington, Thomas Edison, our grandparents, parents, and even you today, have used coins.

Half Cent 1793-1857


The half cent, smallest denomination, yet nearly the size of a modern quarter. Half cent coins were made entirely of copper and were handy for giving change when it first came out. However, as years went by and prices went up, the half cent became less useful. It stopped being made just before the Civil War. Now, half cents are rare. They all have a picture of Liberty on the front and a wreath on the back.  

Large Cent 1793-1857

The half cent and the large cent were among the first coins made by the United States, both minted in Philadelphia. The large cents, containing double the copper of the half cent, were bigger and heavier than today's quarter, making a pocketful of them quite heavy. In the 1800s, as copper prices increased, making the large cent got too costly. So, in 1857, it was replaced by the small cent.

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Small Cent 1856-Date

America’s first small cent, the Flying Eagle, was introduced in 1856 and designed by James Longacre. People often referred to it as the “white cent” due to its composition of 88% copper and 12% nickel. Small cent was produced only for three years before the Indian Head cent took its place.

The Lincoln cent, featuring a president for the first time, was released in 1909. Initially, it had a "Wheat Ears" reverse design, but in 1959, this was changed to the Lincoln Memorial. In 2009, to celebrate 100 years of the Lincoln cent and 200 years since Lincoln's birth, four different designs were issued on the reverse side. Starting in 2010, a new permanent design with the Union Shield began appearing on the coin.

Two-Cent Piece 1864-1873

The 1864 Coin Act introduced a 2-cent copper coin, unique to the Civil War period and the only 2-cent piece ever made in America. Notably, it was the first American coin to feature the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST. 

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Silver Three-Cent Piece 1851-1873

The 3-cent piece is the smallest U.S. silver coin. During the Civil War, people hoarded this and other coins for their silver content. Since the 3¢ piece was needed to help ease the shortage caused by war, the U.S. Mint decided to strike it in copper-nickel.

Nickel Three-Cent Piece 1865-1889 

The 3-cent nickel, named for its copper-nickel composition, was popular with the public. It played a key role in phasing out the disliked 3-cent paper notes that were issued during the Civil War. As more of these notes were swapped for 3-cent coins and the production of 5-cent nickels and cents grew, banks had less need for the 3-cent pieces.

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Nickel 1866-Date

The first U.S. 5-cent coin made of non-precious metal, the Shield nickel, was introduced in 1866. Before this, the first 5-cent coin, the half dime, was made of silver. The Liberty Head or "V" nickel came out in 1883, succeeded by the widely extremely popular Buffalo nickel in the early 20th century, and later, the long-standing Jefferson nickel. In 2004, the Westward Journey Jefferson nickels were launched, celebrating the Lewis & Clark expedition's bicentennial with two new designs each year. This popular series concluded in 2006 with the “Return to Monticello” design. 

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US Half Dime 1794-1873

The nation's first 5-cent coin, the famous half dime, was made of fine silver. It was smaller and lighter than a nickel. There were several designs of the half dime issued well before the U.S. nickel denomination began. From 1866 to 1873, both half dimes and nickels were minted. The half dime played an important role in America's early history and holds significant historical and numismatic value. 

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US Dime 1796-Date

The dime, or 10-cent coin, shared similar designs with the half dime, especially the Liberty Seated type. Up until 1964, when the minting of circulating silver coins stopped, all dimes were made of fine silver. Higher grade dimes are rare and expensive, because they were used more often than quarters and half dollars. However, many early dimes can still be found in circulated condition at a more affordable price.

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US Twenty-Cent Piece 1875-1878 

The twenty-cent piece holds the record for shortest-lived coin denomination in U.S. history! Made with 90% fine silver, it was only minted for general use in 1875 and 1876. A small number of Proof coins were made in 1877 and 1878. People soon started complaining that it looked and felt too much like the quarter, which made it hard to tell them apart when giving change. With less than 1.4 million produced, the twenty-cent piece is now a rare and valued item.

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US Quarter 1796-Date

The U.S. quarter got its nickname "two bits" because it's ¼ of a dollar, similar to how the Mexican 8 Reales was often cut into eight pieces, called "Pieces of Eight." As a large silver coin until 1964, the quarter has always been well-liked, both for everyday use and by coin collectors. Since 1796, it has had several designs, and many collectors aim to collect at least one of each type.

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Statehood, D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarters

The America’s 50 State Quarters Program, launched in 1999, marked a new phase in coin collecting. From 1999 to 2008, each U.S. state was celebrated in the order they joined the Union or, for the 13 original colonies, in the order they ratified the Constitution. In 2009, six more quarters were released, featuring the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

America's National Park Quarters

Starting in 2010, a series similar to the Statehood quarters was introduced, focusing on America’s national parks and historic sites. Designs for each of the 50 states, D.C., and the five U.S. territories, representing their national sites, were scheduled to be released until 2021.

US Half Dollar 1794-Date

Even though the half dollar is rarely used now, it used to be a key silver coin in circulation. There was a time when earning a half dollar for a day's work was common. Having one or two half dollars meant having a substantial amount of money. Its rarity in modern times has only increased its popularity among collectors and enthusiasts.

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US Dollar 1794-Date

Early silver dollars are symbols of the time when America's colonies came together to build a great nation, representing a remarkable era in America’s history. Back then, silver ore was rare, so these early dollars were minted in small numbers. There was a gap in silver dollar production between 1804 and 1836, making the existing ones even rarer and often hoarded. Besides these early dollars, from 1836 to 1839, a series of "Gobrecht" dollars were issued. These served as the design prototypes for the later Liberty Seated dollar.

U.S. dollars from the late 19th century to today are highly prized by coin collectors. This includes the Trade, Morgan, and Peace dollars, all made with 90% silver, and the Eisenhower dollars, which were the last big $1 coins made for circulation. The Susan B. Anthony dollars started the trend of smaller U.S. dollars, followed by the Sacagawea dollars from 2000 to 2008, and the Presidential dollar series that began in 2007. While these were initially circulated widely, starting in 2012, the Presidential dollars have been minted in limited numbers solely for collectors.

In 2009, the U.S. introduced new Native American dollars. These coins kept the well-known Sacagawea on the front, but moved the date and mint mark to the edge, and featured new designs on the back every year. Also, the $1 American Eagle silver bullion coins, made of 99.93% silver and launched in 1986, are the biggest coins in U.S. currency. 

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US Gold Coins

From 1795 to 1933, the U.S. Mint made various gold coins in denominations of $1, $2.50, $3, $5, $10, and $20, along with a few highly rare $4 pattern pieces. Crafted from one of the world's most precious metals and designed by top artists of the time, these coins had limited mintages. Many were melted down over the years, making U.S. gold coins especially rare and interesting today. Since 1986, the American Eagle gold bullion coins have been issued exclusively for collectors. For many enthusiasts, these gold bullion coins, with their unparalleled beauty and global appeal, are the pinnacle of numismatic enjoyment.

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US Commemoratives

Official U.S. commemoratives are authorized by Act of Congress to honor important persons, locations, and events in U.S. history. Commemoratives have been struck in both silver and gold, and more recently, clad. They are minted only in very small numbers compared to regular coinage. After 1954, no U.S. commemoratives were produced until 1982, when the George Washington half dollar was issued to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Washington’s birth. Official U.S. issues should not be confused with so-called “commemoratives” produced by private organizations, which are medals.

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Here is where you will find anything you need to know about rare coins. This portion of our site will cover history, facts, and coin mintage numbers. You can even find the value of you rare coin collection if you search hard enough. A whole section is even dedicated to precious metals and bullion information. Just navigate on the left hand side of this screen to view all of the different types of U.S coins we have covered. We have sections on Morgan Silver Dollars, Peace Silver Dollars, Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins, American Silver Eagles and much more! Remember, an educated rare coin collector is the best type of collector!

Whether you are new to coin collecting or are a seasoned numismatist, this rare coin resource center is the perfect tool to hone your knowledge on the rare coin market. This has been composed by our numismatic experts with a combined experience of almost 100 years! 



What factors determine the value of a US coin?
Coin values are determined by rarity, demand, condition (grade), mint year, and any errors or unique features.
How can I find the value of my US coins?
Consult a reputable coin price guide, visit a professional numismatist, or use online resources and auction sites to compare recent sales of similar coins.
Which US coins are the most valuable?
Rare issues like the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, 1894-S Barber Dime, and the 1933 Double Eagle are among the most valuable due to their rarity and historical significance.
Are old US coins always valuable?
Not necessarily. While age can contribute to a coin's value, condition, rarity, and demand are more critical factors.
How does the grade of a coin affect its value?
Higher-grade coins (those in better condition with less wear) are typically more valuable. Grading is done on a scale from Poor to Perfect Mint State.
What is the best way to store and preserve US coins?
Store them in a cool, dry place in appropriate holders or albums that protect them from damage, moisture, and environmental pollutants.
Can circulated coins be valuable?
Yes, especially if they are rare dates, have low mintages, or contain errors. Even common coins in exceptionally high grades can be valuable.
What are error coins, and are they valuable?
Error coins have minting mistakes, such as double dies, off-center strikes, or wrong planchet errors. They can be highly valuable, depending on the rarity and type of error.
What US coins should I look for that might be valuable?
Key dates and rarities in each series, error coins, coins in exceptionally high grade, and historically significant pieces are often valuable.
How do mint marks affect a coin's value?
Mint marks indicate where a coin was minted. Some mint marks are rarer and can increase a coin's value, especially if the coin is already rare for other reasons.
Are modern US coins valuable?
While most modern coins are produced in large quantities and not immediately valuable, limited editions, special mintages, and error coins can be valuable.
What is a proof coin, and is it more valuable?
Proof coins are specially made with high-quality dies and polished planchets, resulting in a mirror-like finish. They are typically more valuable than their circulation counterparts due to their quality and lower mintages.
Can silver and gold US coins be worth more than their face value?
Yes, coins made of precious metals can be worth significantly more than their face value, based on the current market prices of silver and gold.
How do I sell my valuable US coins?
You can sell them through coin dealers, auctions, coin shows, or online marketplaces. Ensure you know their value and consider getting them graded for authenticity and condition.
Do US coin values fluctuate?
Yes, coin values can change due to market demand, the price of precious metals, and other factors. Regularly consulting updated price guides is advisable.