Tips for Identifying U.S. Coins

When looking to buy or sell coins in Rockville, MD, it is important to note the many features that people may look for in a valuable coin. Beyond the obvious identifying marks of a coin, such as its design and date, there are many other more subtle characteristics. Knowing what to look for when it comes to different kinds of coins can be the difference between having mere pocket change and a collector’s item.


It may seem obvious, but many people do not look at the size of the coin. There are many replica coins that are sold in infomercials and online that are not meant for circulation or to be spent as legal currency. These coins look nice, but they are not worth much. If the coin seems a bit big—bigger than a dollar coin—you are probably correct to identify it as a replica. At any rate, these are not genuine U.S. coins.

Mint Markings

A subtle but important feature of a lot of coins is the mint marking. For example, there is some number of 1982 Roosevelt dimes that were issued by the Philadelphia Mint without a “P” marking on them, increasing their value from 10 cents to up to $300 if uncirculated. These kinds of cases come up a lot, too, so understanding which years have errors from particular mints can be crucial to understanding the difference between a typical U.S. coin and a collectible U.S. coin.

Miscellaneous Printing Errors

While mint markings are subtle oddities that can increase the value of a coin, major printing errors can make some very collectible coins. While these may seem obvious once pointed out to you, many printing errors are so minute that you’d never notice them. Again, knowing what to look for is the most important part in identifying these coins.

If you still are not sure about your collectibles, why not take them into our experts at Coins of the Realm? If you need coins, autographs, or stamps identified, call us at (301) 340-1640.

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Why Choose Coins of the Realm, Inc.?

  • Free storefront parking providing easy access.
  • Established in 1974 and still under original ownership and management providing decades of expertise in all aspects of buying and selling.
  • Financial Security – Since opening in April of 1974 every transaction of every size has been completed successfully without issue. Bank references available.
  • We provide accurate information in a professional no pressure environment allowing you to make sound decisions to sell, keep or buy collectibles and precious metals.