Want a great way to find both rare date coins, coin varieties and silver coins? try coin roll hunting!
Successful coin roll hunting requires time, patience and knowledge (much more than I can impart here). It can also be a very rewarding addition to any coin collector/treasure hunters activities as variety and error coins can bring a substantial premium. Therefore, I will say that the FIRST STEP is to commit a set amount to expanding your knowledge of US coinage and performing the hunt. If your unwilling to commit a few hours per week - then coin roll hunting is not for you!
The best part is if you don't find anything, you can take the coins right back to the bank and redeposit them in your account!
The next step builds on the first - knowledge. When hunting coin rolls, your objective will be four fold - key dates, die varieties, minting errors and silver. Any coin guide (such as the Official Blackbook Guide to US Coins) is sufficient to identify key dates in the denomination you are searching. Locating varieties is a much bigger challenge. Varieties are coins that have some sort of die 'defect' - such as a doubled die, a repunched mint mark, etc... Die varieties are a deep topic, best explained in the excellent Cherrypickers guides, as well as numerous web sites, such as the Die Variety News. Die varieties differ from error coins, another deep topic with similar references (there is a basic error guide in the Blackbook, along with numerous websites). Finally there are silver coins that can be mixed into the rolls.
The next step is to obtain the coin rolls. Typically, coin rolls will come right from the bank - although some retail stores will sell them to you as well. You can usually walk in an buy any number of rolls, in any denomination. First, make the decision on the denomination, which will narrow your search criteria. The lower the demonination, the more time the sort and analysis will take, but keep in mind that Lincoln cent varieties are choice among collectors.
The next step will be to sort the coins. Using your knowledge of varieties and key dates, sort the coins according to date and mint mark. Key dates can go right into a coin holder for later condition determination, which dates which have known varieties can go into piles by date. Likewise, error coins and silver coins can each have their own pile.
Now, here is where the challenging part comes in - examining your sorted potential variety dates for actual varieties. You will need to use a magnifier to identify some subtle doubled dies, overdates, mint mark repunches, etc... This can take some time, but will generate a lot of excitement when you find one! Keep at it, eventually you will find something.
If you really want to get into the hobby - you can check EVERY coin for die rotation errors!
Here is a quick list of what to look for by denomination (note: this is list is NOT extensive):
50 Cent pieces - Any coin pre-1964 is 90% silver, but what many people do not know is that 50 cent pieces from 1965-1970 contain 40% silver and command a premium. While not extremely common, you will find them on occasion.
Quarters - Any pre-1964 coins are 90% silver
Dimes - Any pre-1964 coins are 90% silver. You will occasionally find Roosevelt dimes from 1946-1964 in rolls.
Nickels - Wartime nickels 1942-1945 are 40% silver and command a premium. Also be on the lookout for the occasional buffalo nickels.
Pennies - Be on the lookout for wheat cents, which usually go for a nickel a piece. Some of the more well known memorial varieties include the 1972 double die, the 1983 double die reverse, and the 1995 double die. Lincoln cent varieties are extensive, popular and well documented, so please make sure you have a good reference.
The next step is to return the unused coins to the bank. Make sure you have a good supply of coin rolling papers (which are obtainable for free at the bank) - a coin stacker or sorter is recommended to speed the process. I recommend re-rolling all higher denomination coins (5 cents and higher). If you do a lot of pennies, you may feel the 8.9% hit from Coinstar is worth it compared to re-rolling.
Get a good quality magnifier - it will pay off in the long run. When asking for coin rolls at a bank - seek customer hand rolls over the machine rolls. I find on average about 5-10 wheat cents per 20 dollars of pennies. I have found a couple in the teens, which are the best ones to find!
Avoid buying coin rolls that are claimed to be 'unsearched' - this is common with wheat cents. Most are searched, and way overvalued. Sure, there is a possibility of finding a variety, but.....