Cash for your Coins (and I’m not talking about Coinstar)

Hey, you know all that change you have lying around? Random coins here and there in a jar or a drawer…  maybe some foreign currency… the occasional time-worn, seemingly antiquated metal coin that you’re just sure must be a collectible worth lots of money, until you clean it only to find out it’s just an old Chuck E. Cheese token?  Well, the other day I was scrounging around for quarters to do the laundry, and I found the mother lode (yes, I did spell that right).

I found this picture in Google by typing "surly bodega man." I need you to know that.

For apartment dwellers that don’t have a washer/dryer in unit, we know quarters are like gold.  In NYC, they can be hard to come by as there isn’t a bank on every corner (unlike in Atlanta) and most one-stop marts and bodegas frown upon requests like “Can you make change for this dollar?” (Hell, they frown upon most anything—“surly” is the word that often comes to mind).  If you pay for something in cash, and are given change that contains any quarters, they are immediately off limits:  “Must. Not. Accidentally. Spend. These. Quarters.”  Of course, if you’re a driver, quarters equal toll roads and parking meters, too.  Yep, quarters are kind of a big deal.

That said, my search for quarters was a very serious one and I proceeded with a sense of urgency, especially since there was an opening in the laundry room and goodness knows we don’t just let opportunities like that go by.  I’d remembered when unpacking our apartment, that there’d been a large beer mug of Josh’s that we’d filled to the brim with loose change –

The aforementioned mug, i.e., Movie Tavern tanker

 (Note: the large beer mug came from the Movie Tavern in Tucker, GA – it’s one of their “tankers” that you buy and are then expected to bring back the next time for a “fill up” at a slightly better value price than if you had just individually purchased the beer in separate glasses/bottles.  Not necessarily the greatest deal in the world, but the mugs sure make great flower vases and in this case, spare change storage.)

–I emptied the contents, found the necessary coinage, and continued on my laundry way.  Later, when I was going to put all of the coins back, I came across five silver half dollars and one curious looking dime that I’d only brushed aside before (whether or not they were initially Josh’s or mine, we don’t know).   With my Ginger Penny Pincher sensibilities in tow, I thought it seemed pointless to let these just sit in this mug and not be used – I should spend them during my next laundry endeavor!

It occurred to me then that my knowledge of our currency system was extremely lacking.  Did people still take these?  Were there some exceptions to what stores would and wouldn’t accept these?  Pictures of surly bodega men popped into my head, and I quickly knew the answer from them would be “No.”  Though I figured a bank could help me out, I decided to Google the topic anyway (I LOVE Google!).

A president, a statesman, some lady, and my hand.

Well… much to my excitement, I learned that there is such a thing as coin inflation, or as this one guy calls it “coinflation.”  (That’s right, he made up a word. He even got a trademark for it.  I just know we’d be fast friends.)  There’s a website,, which takes the current value of the base metal in the coin and factors that into, well… a bunch of other market-related, economical, flippity jibbet that is not really my job to understand, but suffice it to say, my silver half dollars are definitely worth more than face value.

What are they worth, you ask?  Great question!  I have constructed a handy dandy table just for you! 

As you will see below, different minting years hold different values as the percentage of silver in the coins has been reduced over time by the U.S. Mint.  Also, at the risk of finger-wagging and gnashing of teeth, I am NOT a coin expert — but Alec, the “Coinflation” guy is! – and these values come directly from and are based on the silver price for September 16, 2011, at 5:15 PM EDT.  Fancy and specific, right?  These prices can fluctuate, but as of this writing, here are the numbers:

The much anticipated table!!!


Face Value

Coinflation Value

1943 Mercury Dime (the “curious  looking” one)



1960 Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar



1964 Kennedy Half Dollar



1966 Kennedy Half Dollar



1967 Kennedy Half Dollar



1968 Kennedy Half Dollar






Wait a minute — $2.60 versus $50.4066? –eh, let’s just round up – $50.41?!?!  Now that’s a BIG difference, especially considering these coins were just lying around before, unappreciated for their hidden value.  Fifty dollars and some change could really come in handy, especially in a city like New York where every time you turn around you’ve spent $10.  Fifty dollars could mean a tank of gas… or a nice dinner date with Josh… or ten 12-packs of Diet Coke!  You see where my loyalties lie :)

See? He doesn't look surly at all.

Now, based on what I’ve read – and it all came from the Internet, so it MUST be true! – the next step would be to look up coin shops in the area and make an appointment.  Given that there is a coin shop, pawn shop, jewelry store, or gold buyer on practically every corner, this shouldn’t be too difficult (and in case you hadn’t noticed before, look around – they’re everywhere).

So… to all my GPP readers, those who have subscribed and those who have accidentally stumbled here by way of search engine, here is your mission, if you choose to accept it (and you really should accept it — I mean, c’mon, FREE MONEY!):

Go through all of that loose change you may have sitting around, in drawers, in jars, under the couch cushion, where ever!  Obviously, if you see a coin that you don’t come across every day – as in the case with my Mercury dime and half dollars – look up the values for those first (I recommend that nifty, oft-mentioned website:  NEXT, go through all your coins, especially those silver ones, and look at the years.  Since silver was removed from all coinage by 1970 (and most of it by 1965), any coins with dates prior to 1970, may have some surprising value.  If you think it’s worth it, take those coins and sell them for their real value. (I mean why not?  You were just going to take them to Coinstar anyway?)

Reap the rewards of precious metal appreciation and report back to me via comments or e-mail!  Done.

Good luck!

Frugally yours,

The Gingery Penny Pincher

7 thoughts on “Cash for your Coins (and I’m not talking about Coinstar)

  1. oh grrrrrl. i have some kennedys lying around. mama’s gotta make those count! you know, before the american dollar is worthless and all. THANKS! YOU ARE MY FRUGALISTA MAMARAMA!

  2. also, ps, i grew up in tucker and have never patroned the movie tavern. obviously a big fat fail on my part… can grow inflated coins in that thing!

  3. Pingback: Two Month Blog-iversary!!! « The Ginger Penny Pincher

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