What's that jar of wheat cents worth is a question that many people will ask themselves a few times before they actually take the question seriously enough to check it out.
What a lot of people don't understand is how the United States wheat cent has increased in value so dramatically within recent years.
Prices have escalated beyond the usual appreciation due to the widening collector base of these already popular collectibles.
In the next few paragraphs we'll look at a couple of key examples and show some of their historical pricing that has gone along with these coins.
Finding out what your cents are worth will mean you need to look at each coin and check the date and condition or grade. This last variable (grade) is everything.
You may have a key date but the value will be determined not only by the year on the coin but how much is left of the original design as well as what kind of life the coin has lived.
Environmental damage on a coin either just because it was exposed or because someone unknowingly cleaned it can destroy any value the coin had.
To start your job the first thing I like to do is to look at each one and find any key dates. This can be done using RE Yeoman's Red Book or any local coin store.
This publication will give you the mintage numbers along with corresponding values for each coin in several condition grades.
After you know which ones are rare and which are common, this can shorten the time it will take for you to check only the good years for profitable dates and varieties.
Make a list on paper and then check your Red Book. Hopefully you have all key dates, highly unlikely but a few can make you thousands at today's prices. Make sure to take your time and check each one. Missing one good date can also cost you thousands.
Another good idea is to check with any older relatives you may have because most older people collected these coins and some have long ago forgotten they did this.
Checking with them can remind them of their hoard and potentially bring some great uncirculated coins as they were here when the coins were minted.
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Cherry Picking Your United States Wheat Cents
Finding the Cream of the Crop
When you go through that jar of cents, you need to have a list of potential monster coins. These are the coins that you will find in the Red Book with short mintages or some die variety such as a known double die or mis-struck coin. Once this list is compiled then the sorting can begin. Make several areas on the table for key dates, semi key dates and common cents. Sort your jar into these separated piles.
Once you have gone through all of your coins it's time to assign a grade to each of the key dates and semi key dates. If you have any true key dates such as a 1922 plain (with no mint mark) or a 1914-d, which happens to be one of the highest priced years, these coins must be handled very carefully from this point on. They should be separated from the rest of the pile and treated as the works of art they originally emerged as.
Selling these key date coins is something that will require the utmost care to prevent any further wear or damage. This will get you the most money the coin will bring at auction.
Semi key date coins are the next tier down. They are rare but haven't quite reached the ultra rare state yet. I say yet because these are the coins that have the potential to become monsters in the near future. These are limited commodities and will eventually become extremely hard to get. This is when the price will skyrocket as more collectors enter the mix then coins exist.
If you have a lot of semi key date coins then maybe you should think about preserving these coins in a good book or holders and wait for the rarity to increase. Also purchasing these semi key date coins is a good investment. They will go up and your potential auction price realized may be a lot more then you can get now.
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