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Saturday Work Pays Off with Silver Half Dollars
By Coins Magazine
October 09, 2013

This article was originally printed in Coins Magazine.
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It was your typical busy Friday at work. The phones were ringing, customers were in and out of the lobby all day, and I was thinking about the coins I wanted to buy at the flea market the next day.

This last week silver dropped from $29 an ounce to $23. I was so happy because I felt a drop in silver coming, so I held off buying until this moment.

As I was daydreaming, an associate of mine said my supervisor was on the phone. I was quickly snapped back into reality when she said, “The branch near your house is short-handed and needs some help tomorrow. Can you please work there tomorrow?”

The first thing that went through my mind was, of course, my luck I have to work on the day silver dropped 20 percent. Without even thinking another second, I said, “I’ll do it.”

The next day, instead of loading up my nap sack with the usual coin geek items, such as a magnifying glass, digital pocket scale, Coins magazine’s price guide, and my coin want list, I put the old suit and tie on and went to work. I thought to myself, it’s Saturday and it is a short day of work, I’ll be in and out before you know it.

I arrived at the branch about 15 minutes before we opened the doors for business. I went around the teller line to introduce myself.

It was about a minute before we opened the doors and one of the tellers pulled out their coin tray with at least 10 half dollars. Being the coin geek that I am, I told the teller to hold on to the half dollars until we close because I wanted to purchase them.

As the day went on, I looked for any excuse to go behind the teller line to take a look at the years on the half dollars. Finally, 1 p.m. rolled around and the last customer left at 1:15 p.m. The moment of truth was upon me.

I went over to the teller and asked to see the half dollars and boy was it worth it. I found 11 silver half dollars. Ten were 40 percent silver and one was a 1964 90 percent Kennedy. Now working an extra Saturday was well worth it.

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Like most of you who read and enjoy the “Coin Finds” page, I, too, always check my change for the odd silver coin or wheatie that has gone unnoticed and remains in circulation.

Over the past 40 years or so that I have been collecting coins, I have found many wheaties and silver coins but never anything I considered exciting or interesting enough to write in about. This would include finding two Buffalo nickels in a one-week period—one left at the bank in the coin machine, another in the street five houses down from my own house. Both nickels had no numismatic value, but still to find two Buffalo nickels in the same week was pretty interesting.

Fast forward about three months from the two Buffalo nickels to last Sunday on the way out to Springfield, Mass. I had to exit off the Mass Pike at Exit 5 in Chicoppe, Mass. The nice girl in the ticket gave me back $1.55—a bill, two quarters, and five pennies. No lie, I had a feeling, when she handed me the pennies, this was just the kind of situation that could yield something interesting.

When I looked at the pennies, one of the coins had that look and feel of a wheatie. So I was excited to get to my hotel and check my change to see if my instincts were right.

When I parked the car in the lot and started to check out the five pennies, I was a little disappointed by the coin I thought had a chance to be a wheatie. At first I did not recognize the coin and thought it was an old Canadian penny, then I saw the shield and the legend “one cent.” Sure enough, it was an 1892 Indian Head cent I would grade Good to Very Good.

I was very excited and felt right away this was a story to share with all of those who enjoy reading “Coin Finds” as much as I do. The moral of the story is keep the faith and always check your change. The second point is skip those fancy E-Z pass things, because you’ll never get any change back.

Happy hunting to all.

W.F. Newhall III
Marblehead, Mass.

In 2010 my father asked me to look at his father’s small cent collection, which had been in storage for 35 years. I was inspired to start collecting coins after creating a current spreadsheet for my grandfather’s 8,000 small cents. This led me to start an eBay coin selling hobby business.

My grandfather was born in 1895, so this was no ordinary small cent collection. There were 24 rolls of 1943 steel cents to start with and several hundred Indian Head cents.

Unfortunately, the key dates had been stolen during a burglary in the late 1960s. All of the coins were 1958 or older.

I was intrigued by online videos of coin sorters. So I started searching $25 boxes of small cents by hand. I won’t reveal how many boxes I have searched since 2010, but it is in the hundreds.

The small cent finds are too numerous to list, but here are a few highlights. In one of the first small cent boxes I searched there was a 30 percent off-center strike cent with a full date.

The oldest small cent found to date was an 1885 Indian Head cent. I could not believe my eyes when the coin’s reverse appeared as I opened the roll. Almost every year from 1909 to 2013 has been represented.

Just this morning I found a 1925-S in decent condition.

Some boxes have a low yield of copper, with less than 12 percent, but some are rather high, as much as 27 percent. There have been strings of boxes with large numbers of About Uncirculated 1960s coins. I found 13 rolls of AU to Brilliant Uncirculated 1960s small cents across two boxes I picked up on successive days.

Occasionally a dime will be in a small cent roll, and I have found small cents from at least 10 foreign countries as a result of searching small cent boxes for three years.

One day I happened to stop at another bank where I have an account and asked if they had any half dollars. They took my number and called a few weeks later and said they had some half dollars, so I went in to buy them.

At first I was confused because both rolls were $20 face value. I had never seen these older brown wrappers and felt my heart flutter when the teller let five Walking Liberty halves fall out of one of the rolls as I was about to pay. I paid the $40 face value and literally ran to my vehicle to open them up.

To my shock I was looking at a full roll of Franklin halves and another full roll of Walking Liberty halves. The price of silver at the time was in the mid-$30s. There were no key dates, but the $40 investment yielded over a $900 profit.

For a while I searched one box of dimes per week and have found at least one or two silver dimes, both Mercury and Roosevelt, in many of the boxes. Several dime boxes had no silver. Out of five boxes of quarters I searched, I found only one silver quarter.

A tip for those who have trouble getting small-cent boxes on demand from the bank is to re-roll the coins you return and place them in the original box grouped by 10 rolls. This makes it much easier for the teller to exchange the boxes as it only takes a minute to confirm the quantity of the returned rolls.

My exchanges take less than 20 seconds of the teller’s time. Once they realized I was coming in twice a week they just ordered an extra box for reserve. Otherwise you may need to put in a standing order for a box per week and wait a few days for the first one.

All of our family members enjoy the “Coin Finds” stories. Keep up the good work.

Jay Jasper
Near San Francisco, Calif.

I have been collecting coins for about 40 years and have some nice coins in my collection, but the coins I find in change or by accident I tend to appreciate the most. Several weeks ago I was doing my job as a construction inspector when I noticed at an intersection I had been working at a small shiny object in the middle of the intersection. I walked over and picked it up, and to my surprise it was a silver Barber dime dated 1916. It was in Good and not the most valuable of coins ($3 to $4 at most), but still a nice find for me since all of the people that had passed by this spot did not notice the coin at all.

Sometimes it pays to be looking at the ground.

Karl J. Klyn
Charlotte, N.C.

Just wanted to share a “coin”cidence. Yesterday, I stopped at a store to pick up a snack tray for the monthly Anchorage Coin Club meeting. After returning home, I went through my change as usual and found I had received a 1954-D Roosevelt dime in Extremely Fine. They are still out there.

Allen C. Nichols
Wasilla, Alaska

I love reading “Coin Finds” every month. Just would like to tell you of my finds in the last couple months.

First, I received a 2006-S Kennedy half dollar and a 2004-S Jefferson nickel, both from my local 7-11. First time I had ever gotten proof coins in change. I was also able to trade a new $5 bill for a not so bad looking 1950 $5 bill.

It wasn’t until June of this year that I received my first 2013 coins—three dimes, a nickel and a cent. This is the latest in the year I’ve ever received the new coins since I’ve started collecting in 1995.

Thanks for your section. We love reading about other finds.

Arnold Jones
Charles Town, W.Va.

I’ve been reading your column for a couple of months now and enjoy some of the stories. So I decided to send one of mine.

Back in the early 1980s I was asked by my elderly neighbor to take a cigar box of loose coins to the bank for her and cash in, as she was short of money.

Half way to the bank, I stopped for a traffic light and curiosity got the best of me. So I looked into the box. There I saw silver coins, including a fair mix of Morgan and Peace silver dollars. There were also Franklin and Walking Liberty halves. Plus, it had some Indian Head cents.

Upon returning home, I counted just slightly over $100 face value. I walked next door with $300 in cash and asked her if I could purchase the box. She gladly accepted, along with giving me a bunch of hugs and kisses.

Later that evening I poured them out on my desk and gave them a look through. Most of the coins were duplicates, but the one that was the unexpected jackpot was a Morgan dollar in Fine-plus dated 1893-S. It has a very tiny rim nick at 2 o’clock on the obverse, but what the heck. How can I complain?

The poor woman passed on within the next two weeks and her only heir was a very greedy nephew who showed up the next morning and cleaned her place out including the light bulbs, wall switch plates and mailbox. I am so glad this coin came to a good home.

Thanks for sharing stories like mine. Keep up the good work.

C.A. Mosher
Hamden, Conn.

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