Significant Pocket Change: Noteworthy Minor Coins
Nowadays, coin collectors get their start with coins like American Silver Eagles, acquired directly from the US Mint in near-perfect grades. The roots of this noble hobby started when we were kids looking through pocket change on an exhilarating treasure hunt where you didn't know what you'd find. These were coins that had been circulated and were harder to find in Mint State condition. To restore that grand tradition, we put together this list of a few of those coins that anyone can collect just by looking through their change!
1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent
Although the reverse of the Lincoln Cent displays Lyndall Bass’ Shield design now, another design graced this coin for 50 years! Before the Lincoln Bicentennial designs of 2009, the reverse featured the Lincoln Memorial designed by Frank Gasparro. The Lincoln Cent to look out for in your pocket change is the 1959 Lincoln Cent, as it was the first year that the Lincoln Memorial was showcased on this honorable coin. The amount of detail present in the design is amazing as Gasparro made sure to make the statue of Abraham Lincoln visible inside the Memorial.
1998 Washington Quarter
As it was the most collected coin series in the history of the US Mint, many people are familiar with collecting State Quarters. The State Quarters series ran from 1999 to 2008 and featured all 50 states with their own unique designs. But the Washington Quarter to look out for comes from 1998, as this was the final year before the State Quarters series. This was the last time that the Washington Quarter obverse and reverse was struck as the American people had known it since 1932! Even after the State Quarter series, the US Mint began the America The Beautiful series from 2010 to 2021, then the Crossing the Delaware design also in 2021 and now the American Women series. That final year Washington Quarter is a true last of its kind!
1965 Roosevelt Dime and 1965 Washington Quarter
Circulating American coinage, such as the dime, quarter, and half dollar, were struck from silver when they were originally produced. It wasn’t until a massive coin hoarding broke out in America during the 1960s that the US Mint decided to remove silver from these coins. Reaching a peak with the release of the Kennedy Half Dollar in 1964, the US Mint projected that if they continued striking coins at the rates they had been, they would run out of silver entirely by 1968. Silver content was removed entirely from dimes and quarters while debasing half dollars to a 40% silver composition thanks to the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965, which was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 23rd, 1965. Those dimes and quarters struck for circulation in 1965 are the coins to look out for as they were the first of their series to be struck from a copper nickel clad composition.
2003 Jefferson Nickel
While the Jefferson Nickel has been struck since 1938, many small design changes in recent years have led to an entirely different obverse design. In 2004, to commemorate the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and the beginning of the Westward Expansion, two new reverses were used on the Jefferson Nickel. Then in 2005, the obverse was changed and given two more new reverses. While the Monticello reverse returned to the coin in 2006, the obverse is now a facing portrait of Thomas Jefferson designed by Jamie Franki. That makes the pocket change to look out for the 2003 Jefferson Nickel as it was the final year that featured Felix Schlag’s original 1938 design!
1976 Kennedy Half Dollar
The Kennedy Half Dollar is one of the most revered designs in all of numismatics. Designed by Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro to honor the recently fallen President John F. Kennedy, the coin was first released in 1964. It was only 12 years later that the coin saw a major redesign to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States of America. Admittedly, it is uncommon to receive a half dollar in pocket change, but many banks still offer the denomination in rolls. but the Kennedy Half Dollar to look out for is the 1976 Bicentennial design. The obverse still displays Roberts’ design, the year is denoted as ”1776 - 1976”. On the other hand, the reverse showcases Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Only used for two years, this design is one to look for.
Coin collecting has evolved to be about acquiring the finest known directly from the US Mint, but this wasn’t always the case. We put this list together of noteworthy dates and design changes to harken back to the days of collecting from pocket change. Rare Collectibles TV is your source for both the newest American Silver Eagle releases as well as stunning Kennedy Half Dollar circulation examples.