I remember once (about 18 years ago) I was in Minnesota on a business trip and I had a co-worker ask me that question. My answer was "Not really." He suggested that for just a few seconds to really look at the coins and bills you are handed (before you put them in your pocket or purse). You can find some that were minted incorrectly, or are otherwise unusual, and are worth more then the face value.
So I thought, "OK, maybe I will." And, actually I did start. Now it is second nature and I don't think twice about it - I look at both sides of each coin and bill I am handed. It takes no more then a few seconds. I am sure all the clerks in the stores I frequent think I am counting it to ensure it is correct. (Well, that is important too!)
With this in mind, I must tell you what I found just a few days ago. Actually, my husband received it as change from a convenience store. When he got home, he emptied his pockets on the counter. (He has been doing that for 35 years!) When I went to clean, I saw this 'thing' and thought to myself "How nasty!" It honestly looked like a piece of dirt. However, it was very hard when I went to pick it up. I asked him what it was and he said he thought it was a quarter. So, I put a dab of soap on it and ran it under water and looked at it. The date '1918' was clearly visible.
OK, so now I know that I don't have a quarter but I don't yet know what I do have. (I was quite excited.) I cleaned it up some more and this is what I found.
This side of the coin is somewhat damaged so you may not be able to see that it says '1 Franc' on it. Here is the front of the coin.
This is a Liberty (Liberte) coin. I imagine someone must have brought this home from The Great War as a souvenir! (OK, it could have been in a coin collection somewhere too. But the history buff in me wants to believe someone brought it home from WWI!) The detail on the woman is amazing. You can even see the details in her face and feet! (My apologies for the picture - I don't have a macro lens for the digital camera.) I think the detail survived all these years because of all the dirt covering it.
I looked it up on the web and this coin was made from 1898 to about 1960. It is a silver coin. I saw value ranges from $20.00 to $50.00 in very good condition (depending on the year). This isn't in very good condition, since the back side has some damage. However, I think it is in good condition. I would guess that it is worth between $35.00 to $40.00.
It really doesn't matter to me how much it is worth. To me, it is priceless because it is 98 years old and part of world history! I am thrilled with my find!
This is not the only coin I have found in 18 years. I want to show you another one I have managed to collect. This one I found in 2003. It is a New Jersey State quarter.
Again, I apologize for the picture. If you look real close you can see that the word 'Crossroads' isn't spelled correctly. The 'r' in crossroads is missing! In fact, the strike on this coin was completely off because the picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware river is missing detail as well.
This is what it should look like. Look at all the detail directly under George Washington. My coin doesn't have it.
Again, while researching this on the web, it appears state quarters that were not struck correctly are worth anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars.
In addition to these two coins, in 2000, I also received as change a 1957 Silver Certificate dollar bill. This one is cool because bills now say 'Federal Note' and not 'Gold Certificate' or 'Silver Certificate' across the top. In theory, I should be able to demand 1 dollar's worth of silver for my bill.
Next time you are at the store, try looking at your money. Really looking at it. I bet you can find a treasure too!
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