Monthly Archives: October 2014

Top 5 Most Valuable Pennies

One of the most looked down upon coins is probably the one that we use the least. The penny, it sits in our coin jar waiting for us to exchange our full jar of coins for some extra pocket cash. But, what if I told you that some of those pennies in your pocket or change jar, are worth more than your entire change jar? Some of those pennies are the most sought after coins that numismatists collect. Here’s our list of the top 5 most valuable pennies.

No.5 – 1923 Wheat Penny

This Lincoln wheat penny can be a bit of a crapshoot. Due to how many were produced, this coin can be worth as little as $.75 or as much as $750. One of the reasons being is that this sought after coin has no mint mark. It is one of the few years where the coin was produced outside of the Philadelphia mint.

No. 4 – 1909 VDB-S Lincoln Penny

This is one of the most coveted pennies by Numismatists. The VDB-S penny comes from when the Lincoln Penny was first minted. The VDB are the artist’s initials who designed the Lincoln cent and the S comes from the coin being minted in San Francisco. Only 484,000 were minted with the artist’s initals as there was public outcry for them being removed. A coin in good condition with the VDB-S mint mark can be worth just shy of $3,000. Makes it worth checking your pennies to see if you have one of these jewels hiding in your change drawer.

No. 3 – 1914-D Lincoln Wheat Penny

The 1914 minted out of Denver is considered a key date for the Lincoln Penny collectors. With only 1.1 million of this coin minted from the Denver Mint, this date has become a keystone to many collections as it is one of the most valuable non-error wheat pennies. One of these found in  good condition can fetch up to $4,300! Nice down payment on a house or car, if I do say so myself.

No. 2 – 1943 Copper Wheat Penny

The 1943 copper wheat penny is considered one of the crown jewels of collectors. The reason being is that there are very few in existence. Due to the copper shortage during WWII most of the copper used for pennies was re-purposed towards the war effort. Any of the copper pennies that were released that year were mistakes by the mint and as such were never supposed to be in circulation to begin with. Due to this, there are numerous fakes in collecting circulations. If you do have one that is real, you could be sitting on a coin worth up to $100,000! Not to shabby for old Abe’s coin.

No. 1 – 1944 Steel Wheat Penny

Coming in at Number 1 is the 1944 steel wheat penny. This penny that was issued during WWII was to replace the copper one during the war years. But because of the weak composition not many were made, which made this coin extremely rare. Like the 1943 copper wheat penny, this coin could be worth more than $100K!

Well that’s it, who knew that pennies could be so valuable? Definitely worth taking a look through your change drawer or old coin box. Now if you excuse me, I have some coins to sift through.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.


Top 5 Most Sought After Coins

Sports has always had their MVPs. Players who represent being the most valuable asset on their respective teams. Sometimes these players become so popular they become the figurehead for their team. Same can be said when collecting coins. There are certain rare coins that are highly sought after, and become the centerpiece of many numismatists collections. Here are our Top 5 Coin MVPs.

Walking Liberty Half DollarWalking Liberty Half Dollar – No. 5

Our first entry is the Walking Liberty half dollar. This coin is definitely one of the more popular coins for numismatists to collect because of its beauty. Minted through the roaring 20′s, the Great Depression, and two World Wars, the Walking Liberty Half Dollars carries a great deal of US history with it. Also, the obverse was so popular, that the US mint re-used it when they started minting the Silver Eagles in 1986.

Mercury Dime ObverseMercury Dime – No. 4

Our next MVP, is the Mercury Dime. The artistry on this coin is called one of the great designs of the 20th century. One interesting tidbit of trivia, is that the obverse does not in fact depict, Mercury, the messenger of the Roman gods. It is actually Liberty with a winged cap which symbolized freedom of thought. This coin also served through very turbulent times, and was even the part of the song, “Brother, can you spare a dime?” from the Great Depression.

Morgan Dollar ObverseMorgan Silver Dollar – No. 3

Coming in at number 3 is the Morgan Silver Dollar. A must-have for every collector, the Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most popular and collected coin series in the US. We’ve talked about the Morgan Silver dollar before, so I won’t go into the history of it. However, this is definitely one that should be a cornerstone of your collection.

1935 Buffalo NickelBuffalo Nickel – No. 2

Now this was a close tie with number 3, but the Buffalo Nickel got the lead by a nose. Another coin we talked about recently, the rich history of this coin makes it another very popular showcase item for collectors. This coin series has several very rare strikes, including the 3 legged buffalo in the 1937-D series.

Saint Gauden’s Double Eagle/Flowing Hair Dollar – No. 1

Coming in at number one, is a tie between two of the most sought after coins by collectors around the world. The Flowing Hair Dollar was the first coin issued and used by the US. Today, scholars believe there are only between 130-140 known to still exist. This, of course, tied with the Saint-Gauden’s Double Eagle, considered one of the most beautiful coins minted by the US Mint. Very few of these coins still exist due to the Big Melt of 1933 when FDR recalled all the coins to be melted down. Any of the ones still existing as part of a collection, have been dealing with legal ramifications as the federal government claims that the coins are federal property not private property.

Flowing Hair Dollar1933 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle








Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.


Buyer’s Guide to Indian Head Coins Pt. 2

Last week we featured some of the rare Indian head historical coins that are must have for any numismatics collector. Because of how rich the history of these coins are, we had to split up our guide into two parts. So without further ado, here is part two of our Indian Head coin guide.

1908-1929 Indian Head Half and Quarter Eagles

1914 Indian Head Half Eagle

Design for Half and Quarter Eagle

It is often said that the Saint Gauden’s Double Eagle is the single most beautiful coin in American numismatic history. I would like to debate that point however, because there are two coins from the same period that are much more innovative and were very risky. These two coins are the Indian Head half eagle and quarter eagle. At the time, the previous eagle series had all been around without a design change for over 50 years. It wasn’t until Theodore Roosevelt assumed office that the groundwork for the coins’ change would be laid. It was Teddy who arranged for Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the famous double eagle and eagle (featured below). After these coins were received with rave reviews, President Roosevelt gave his blessing for the next two to be issued. These two coins stand out from the rest of US coinage because their relief is incuse instead of being raised. The quarter eagle was minted annually, until 1915 and then didn’t begin again until 1925, making the quarter eagle one of the smallest minted series in US history. This makes collecting a complete set attainable despite the current cost of gold. The only real rarity in the series is the 1911-D with only 55,680 minted. While the half eagle was minted annually until 1916 and wouldn’t resume production until 1929 right before the crash. The 1929 half eagle is the most sought after coin in this series as it appears only a handful escaped the smelter.

1907-33 Indian Head Eagle

1932 Indian Head EagleThe history behind this coin starts when Theodore Roosevelt was elected President in 1904. Unhappy with the inaugural medal designed by US Mint engravers Barber and Morgan, he commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a new medal. The medal gained widespread fame for its beauty and in turn Roosevelt commissioned Saint-Gaudens to begin redesigning the nations coinage, much to Chief Engraver Barber’s chagrin. The final design that ended up on the gold 10 dollar coin was originally meant for the Double Eagle but was decided for the Eagle instead. After much trial and error with the striking of the coin, and under great pressure to get the new coin into circulation after the first batch was melted down, some of the design elements of the coin were removed for striking purposes. An interesting fact about this coin, early mintages of this coin do not feature the “IN GOD WE TRUST” motto as Roosevelt felt that it would be blasphemous to put the deity’s name on a coin that may be used for immoral purposes. However, the coins without the motto might be rare, but the rarest pieces of this series come in the later years after the great gold recall by another Roosevelt in 1933. The 1920-S, 1930-S, and 1933 coins were almost melted in entirety. Making these three mint dates the rarest of the series.

1913-1938 Buffalo Nickel

1935 Buffalo NickelOur final coin in our two part series is the Buffalo Nickel. This famous nickel came from a Roosevelt appointed Secretary of the Treasury and is inspired partially from Saint-Gaudens’ designs. The Buffalo Nickel was designed by James Earle Fraser, a former assistant of Saint-Gaudens and a very prolific artist who was best known for his “End of the Trail” sculpture. Up until this point, most of the “Indian” coins featured caucasians wearing an Indian headress. Fraser’s design accurately portrayed Indians as they look. The profile portrait on the obverse of the coin was a composite of three chiefs who had posed for Fraser. Wanting to keep the distinct American theme, he depicted the Buffalo on the reverse. Over 1.2 billion Buffalo Nickels were minted from 1913 to 1938. This series has an array of scarce dates and rarities. The most difficult coin to obtain is the 1918/17-D overdate. Additionally, another rare series is the coins minted from the San Francisco Mint from 1913-1928.

Well I hope you enjoyed our two part piece on the Indian Head coins as much as I enjoyed writing about it. This period is rich with beautiful artistry on our coins, and showcases a time when we were daring with the designs on our money. I hope this guide provides a helpful look into these coins along with a glimpse of their history.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.


Buyer’s Guide to Indian Head Coins Pt.1

While the coins of the US have a very rich history. There are few coins that hold the fame (or infamy depending on how you look at it) like the Indian head coins. Used throughout the 19th and 20th century, on different denominations, these coins are some of the rarest and most valuable to numismatists. Often fetching high prices at auctions these coins are some of the prize jewels in collections. So here is part one of our buyer’s guide to Indian Head coins.

1859-1909 Indian Head Penny

1859 Indian Head PennyOur first Indian coin comes from the mid 19th century. The Indian Head penny was actually a replacement for the Flying Eagle design, which had numerous problems and was advised to be replaced. The legend behind the Indian’s design was that the artist James B. Longacre modeled the Indian head design after his youngest daughter, Sarah. However, researchers have proven this nothing more than an urban legend, saying that this was actually based off of the “Crouching Venus” statue that was on display at the Philadelphia museum at the time. Whatever Longacre’s inspiration was, the coin won immediate and continued acclaim from the American public. Cornelius Vermeule wrote in his book Numismatic Art in America, “[the coin was] perhaps the most beloved and typically American of any piece great or small in the American series.” Another interesting fact is that this coin was minted in two separate materials. Before the breakout of the Civil War, the coin was made of a copper-nickel alloy, but due to coin hoarding during the war, the coin’s composition was changed to brass and was made thinner as well. This coin continued use until it was replaced by the Lincoln Head Penny in 1909.

1854-56/56-89 Indian Head Dollar

1854 Indian Head Dollar Type 2

Type 2 Indian Head Dollar

Don’t let the dates confuse you, this is about the same coin, there were just two different strikings of the same coin. This coin came about due to the California gold rush in the late 1840′s that caused an influx of gold in the Union as $600 million in gold was found in the California hills. The first of the Indian Head dollar coins appeared in 1854 after the public complained that the first dollar coin minted was too small and easy to lose. This changed when James Snowden became the new director of the mint. Snowden agreed that the coin should be larger but thinner as well, to which he assigned the chief engraver, James Longacre (who would also design the indian head penny described above), to make this modification as well as come up with a new design. The new design ended being a female figure in a headdress and was frequently described as an “Indian princess.” The coin was larger than the earlier dollar coin and was easier to keep track of, but, the relief on the obverse was too high and cause an immense number of the coins to not be fully struck. Because of the striking difficulties, Longacre went back to the drawing board to come up with a solution. The Type 2 lasted until 1856 when it was replaced with the Type 3, which ran from 1856-1889. During its brief run, only 1.6 million of the Type 2 dollar were struck. Numismatic scholars estimate that less than 1% of the Type 2 Dollar mintage still exist, due to the fact that because of the high relief the coins that were in circulation wore down quickly and became illegible after a few years.

1888 Indian Head Dollar Type 3

Indian Head Dollar Type 3






Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.