Experts explain how to assess whether your old coins or notes are actually valuable

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Coin collecting, sometimes called numismatics, can be more than a hobby for some. This can be a lucrative investment. The same goes for collecting, saving or reselling old paper money.

Even if you’re not an avid collector, you might have a stash of old notes or coins that could be worth more than their face value. But it’s not always easy to know which old coins or notes are actually worth more than the amount printed on them.

The answer isn’t always obvious, Dustin Johnson, vice president of numismatics at Heritage Auctions, told Nexstar Media Wire in an article published by The Hill. However, there are some clues you can look for.

Wheat pennies

Coins showing wheat on the tail might be worth more than a penny, but not all of them are. This has to do with the placement of the date next to Abraham Lincoln’s head on the other side. If you find one that was never distributed, it could be worth $1,500, according to The Hill.

Invoices with oddities in their serial numbers

A $20 bill with a serial number printed above (not below) a Del Monte fruit sticker sold for $400,000 at a 2021 auction.

If you find a note or currency with serial number 1 with a solid serial number (all the same numbers in a row), you may be able to sell it for hundreds or even thousands. According to, only one in 11 million notes printed has a chance of having a solid serial number.

The higher the serial number, the more money you could make, as not all invoices are printed at full capacity in every print run. Solid serial numbers of all 8s and all 9s can sell in the thousands. All 9 are particularly rare since the currency is today only printed up to serial number 96000000.

If the solid serial number starts and ends with the same letter, it could bring in more money. As with most collectibles, the better the condition of the rare note, the more money you can make.

Banknotes or coins with printing errors

If you come across a note with a different denomination on the front than the back (or even a printing error where the denomination appears twice), it could be worth much more than its face value.

Likewise, coins with printing errors can often fetch thousands of dollars from collectors. Errors appear due to die defects and die errors which lead to errors during casting of the part. For example, a 1942 Mercury dime was accidentally cast using a 1941 die. The dime sold for $3,990 in 2023 on eBay. In 2018, a coin with the same error and in better condition sold for $120,000.

High value notes

You would probably like to find a $500, $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 bill, even if it only contained the value assigned to it. However, these higher denomination species are very rare, as these denominations were only printed until 1945 and issued until 1969, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta website.

A $10,000 note sold for $456,000 in 2021, the highest value ever commanded for such a note, according to Heritage Auctions.

Older $2 bills

People often have $2 bills tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Children often feel special upon receiving such a note from a beloved parent, as they are quite rare and not seen many in circulation. But are they really worth more than $2?

It depends. Any $2 bill printed after 1976 will not be worth more than $2, even in excellent condition. However, $2 bills printed between 1862 and 1918 can be worth $50 in well-circulated condition and $500 or more in mint condition. If you come across an uncirculated $2 bill, it could be worth $1,000 or more, according to

Final note

If you’re looking to free up some extra cash, it might be worth looking through your piggy bank or piles of cash to see if you have anything that might be more valuable than you think. Before trying to sell old coins or notes, take them to a numismatic professional such as Heritage Auctions to help determine their true condition and value.

You may simply have a bargain hidden in a drawer that you can save or, worst case scenario, sell for more money.

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