May 29, 2017

This post was updated on August 2021

Imagine if one of the coins you fished out from under your couch cushion was worth a whopping $330,000 CAN — and you didn’t even realize it. So, before you use an old coin you picked up off the ground for your next coffee, consider the fact that the old coin could be worth a lot more than just its face value.

The thing is, how does one even determine the value of old coins? If you are looking to buy and sell coins or any other antique items and want to be sure you get the right price, visit Muzeum. We will test your items in front of you using professional and exact methods to help you identify your old coins' worth. If you are interested in buying, we also have old coins for sale.

If you want to find the value of your old coin but don’t have time to visit us in-store, you can also use our free email service. All you have to do is take pictures of your old coin or paper money and send them to One of our trained experts will reply within 72 hours with a free, fair market evaluation of your old coins’ worth.

Before getting a thorough evaluation from us, however, there are some quick ways that you can start to identify the value of your old coins.

Old Canadian Coins

The Type of Coin: What Coins Do You Have?

If you are looking to determine the value of old coins, the first step is to identify the type of coins you have. For example, do you have Canadian, U.S or European coins, or are your coins from elsewhere?

The good news is that identifying a coin’s type is straightforward. The coin should say the country of origin on it and, once you know the country of origin, you can search the country’s coins identification chart. 

U.S. Coins

Old US coins will always say “United States of America '' on them — but not all coins that say the United States on them are American. If a coin has the United States mark, you can search it using the U.S. Old Coins Identification Chart. If the coin doesn’t show up on the chart, that means it’s likely a commemorative coin instead of a circulated one. 

U.S. coins are categorized into the following groups:



Half Cents 1793 to 1857
Small Cents 1856 to date
Nickels 1866 to date
Dimes 1796 to date
Quarters 1796 to date
Half Dollars To date
One-dollar Coins To date
Gold Coins 1795 to 1933
Classic Commemorative Coins 1892 to 1954
Modern Commemorative Coins 1982 to date


Canadian Coins

There is a large selection of rare Canadian coins worth money, which we’ve dedicated an entire post to! With our helpful tips and guidelines, figure out if your old Canadian coin is more emotionally or monetarily valuable.

Unidentifiable Coins 

If you can't identify the country of origin of your coin, there are different resources and databases you can use to search for them online.

Alternatively, if you can’t identify your coin’s origin, this may mean that your coin is not actually a coin — it could be a token or medal. Telling signs that your coin may be a medal is if it doesn't have a country name or denomination.

Another possibility is that your coin may have been privately minted and is not an official government-issued coin. The good news is that a lot of private minted coins do hold substantial value. For example, when there was a coin shortage during the civil war, a lot of private mints had to take it upon themselves to make tokens to help facilitate small transactions. These are particularly valuable collectible coins worth money if you can get your hands on one!

The Economics of the Coin: How Many are in Circulation?

The economics of a coin refers to its demand. Simply put, the stronger the demand for a coin, the higher its value will be. Unfortunately, collectors often instigate the demand for rare coins, and this demand can be so striking that it adversely affects the value of old coins.

The fewer coins minted in a specific year means that less of them are in circulation. This demand gives them a higher chance of being a collectible item worth money. Regardless of the condition of your coin, if there are 10 million in circulation, it won't be a high-value coin worth money. However, if there were only 18,780 of a specific silver coin minted (the 1948 silver dollar, for example), then the silver coin value skyrockets. 

old canadian coins

This demand factor may help to explain why some old and rare coins have a higher price value compared to their newer counterparts that are considered common. 

Just like the demand for commodity changes over time, the same can be said in the numismatic market. These changes also influence the value of coinage, as collectors will search for specimens that may have been perceived as worthless initially. 

That said, most coin collectors dream of finding uncirculated coins – those that were minted long ago but never circulated. This means they never were used or exposed to the elements that cause discoloration and rusting.

Consider the rare coins worth money that hold high value for collectors:

1921 50 Cent Coin

George Cook, a Calgary businessman, made it a life-long passion to collect rare old Canadian coins. He ended up with what is considered the most comprehensive collection of old Canadian coins ever.

After he passed away in 2018, Cook’s collection was auctioned August 13 to 17 at the World’s Fair of Money in Chicago where it was estimated to be worth 4 to 5 million dollars. One item in his collection, the 1921 50 cent coin, is said to be in near-perfect condition and worth between $200,000 and $250,000 USD. These pieces have such a high value because there’s only 75 of them thought to be left in existence today. History says that many were melted down for their silver and used again to make new ones.

1794-1978 Silver Dollars

Silver dollars were minted by the United States and circulated for over 140 years. The thing is, however, there were very few in circulation. Bust silver dollars, for example, were one of the first minted, but were produced for a short period of time. Only a few survived circulation and hold high value as a result. 

Notable silver dollars include:

  • Bust Silver Dollars
  • The Morgan Silver Dollar
  • Peace Dollars

E-Mail Muzeum To Schedule Your Free Evaluation

The Grade of the Coin: Is it in Mint Condition?

The grade of a coin refers to the condition that it’s in. This is another integral factor in determining old coins' price value. Coins are commonly graded by the following tiers: 

  • Mint State
  • About Uncirculated
  • Extremely Fine
  • Very Fine
  • Fine
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • About Good

Coinage is also graded on a scale of 1-70, with the ones that are in better condition getting a grade closer to 70.

Mint condition, uncirculated or dated coinage is usually rated between 65 and 70 and is considered very desirable to most collectors.

These are the main aspects we consider when we buy and sell gold coins in Toronto and assess them to determine their value:

  • The strike of the coin (in plain speak: the minting process)
  • The aesthetics or eye appeal
  • Colouration
  • Lustre
  • Damage it may have due to exposure or use

What we find can affect the value of your coinage. It is not recommended to clean your old coins, as this will drastically decrease their value (on average, anywhere from 30% to 50% reduction on a rare coin). Instead, focus on storing them properly to maintain their condition.

old canadian coins

The Material of the Coin: Gold or Silver?

Old coin values are also dependent on material, as some old coins are more valuable than others because of what they are made of. Many coins minted before the Great Depression were made using silver and gold. 

Naturally, these are worth a lot more than the ones that came after them that were made of copper, bronze, and steel. This is why the value of old coins before 1965 are so high. After 1968, no silver coins were produced.

The value of silver and gold has increased in the last 150 years, changing gold and silver coins value, rippling into the value of coinage that was minted in these precious metals. A striking example would be the 1794 silver dollar, which sold for more than US $10 million at auction in 2013. 

Consider the most notable old gold, silver and even copper coins that hold substantial value because of their combined material, rarity, and history.

Notable Old Gold Coins

Pre-1933 U.S. Gold Coins 

Year: Dating back to 1795

Origin: The U.S.

The Story: Pre-1933 U.S. gold coins are unique in that they survived the legislation under President Roosevelt, who banned anyone from obtaining and keeping monetary gold. Roosevelt had ordered that anyone holding gold coins send them back to the treasury and, as a result, few survived in circulation. Any remaining gold coins ($1.00, $2.50, $5.00, $10, and $20) dating back to 1975 are now considered incredibly rare.

Particularly rare and valuable gold coins from this time include: 

  • Gold Quarter Eagle
  • Liberty Gold Double Eagle
  • Gold Half Eagle
  • Saint-Gaudens Gold (Sold for $7.59 million in 2002)

Value: The value of a pre-1933 U.S. gold coin depends on its denomination, as the percentage of gold in each coin is proportional to its face value. For example, a 2.50 quarter eagle is made of half the amount of fine gold as a $5 gold half eagle.

The Brasher Doubloon

Year: 1787

Origin: U.S.

The Story: The Brasher Doubledoon’s name comes from its creator, Ephraim Basher. Basher, a goldsmith, and silversmith in New York City, made the coin in the late 18th century, probably unassuming of its impending value. The coin’s front features a rising sun with the state seal, the reverse showing an American eagle with a shield. The coin on its own is particularly rare, but different versions with varying characteristics exist that hold even more value. 

Value: In 2012, A Brasher Doubloon marked with Basher’s signature sold for almost $7.4 million. Later in 2018, another Doubledoon with Dasher’s signature on the bird’s wing sold for over $5 million in a private sale.

The Umayyad Gold Dinar

Year: 723

Origin: Islamic Spain to Central Asia

The Story: Not all rare coins are American, British, or Canadian. The 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar is an Islamic coin, and the first to mention Saudi Arabia. The coin was struck from gold that was sourced from a mine owned by the caliph, and there are only a dozen remaining today. 

Value: A Umayyad Gold Dinar sold for a whopping 3.7 million pounds (about $6 million) at a 2011 auction, earning it the title of the second-most expensive coin ever to be sold at an auction. Another version of the coin sold in 2019 also for 3.7 million pounds, but this time valued at about $4.8 million.

The Edward III Florin

Year: 1343

Origin: The U.K

The Story: The 1343 Edward III Florin boasts King Edward 11 on his throne with two leopard heads on its front and the Royal Cross inside a quatrefoil on its reverse. This design has aptly earned the coin the alternative title of the “Double Leopard.”

This coin is one of three of its kind in existence. The British Museum in London is currently home to two, which were found in the River Tyne in 1857. The third last remaining was found in 2006 when a prospector discovered it via a metal detector. 

Value: The rare coin discovered in 2006 broke records when it sold for 480,000 pounds at an auction. Today, the coin has an estimated value of around $6.8 million.

Canadian Gold Maple Leaf 

Year: 2007

Origin: Canada

The Story: Weighing in at a whopping 220 pounds, measuring 50 centimetres and over an inch thick, is the most recent coin on our list, the $1 million Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin. These were created to promote Canada’s newly minted one-ounce Gold Maple Leaf coins.

The record-breaking coin featuring Queen Elizabeth II on the front and the Canadian Maple Leaf on the back earned its place in the Guinness Book of World Records in October 2007, when it was deemed the world’s largest coin. 

Value:The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf sold at a 2010 auction for 3.27 million euros, equating to slightly over $4 million at the time.

Old Gold Coins We Look For

The pieces that made our list boast unique, rare histories and exceptionally high value, but others also hold substantial value for collectors. Additional types of valuable gold coins include:

  • Royal Canadian Mint
  • American Eagle
  • American Buffalo
  • Pre-1933 U.S. 
  • Krugerrand
  • Royal Mint
  • Olympic
  • Centennial
  • All bullion

An example of what we are looking for at Muzeum would be the 1967 Gold Centennial Coin, which we paid $1100 for:

old canadian coins

Old Silver Coins

A silver coins’ value depends on a combination of its history, current silver prices, rarity, and condition. Consider some of the most notable rare silver coins worth money:

The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar

Year: 1794

Country of Original: U.S.

The Story: This coin is known as one of the most expensive sold to date. You can attribute its value to the fact it's believed to be the U.S. mint's first-ever struck silver dollar.

Value: The coin sold at a 2013 auction for over $10 million

Old Silver Coins We Look For: 

If you are looking to sell your silver coins at Muzeum, note that we are looking for the following:

  • Canadian coinage dated 1968 and earlier
  •  American coinage dated 1964 and earlier
  • American John F Kennedy half dollars dated 1965-1969
  • British coinage dated 1946 and earlier
  • All other silver coinage from around the world
  • All silver bullion from around the world

Notable Copper Coins

Gold and silver aren't the only valuable coin materials. After all, an old coin’s value is not only dependent on its material. There is also history and rarity to take into consideration. 

These are some of the rare copper coins that hold substantial value for collectors:

Fugio Cent 

Year: 1787

Country of Original: U.S.

The Story: The Fugio cent is believed to be the United States' first circulated coin. The copper coin, also known as the Franklin Cent, is named after Benjamin Franklin. It boasts sun and sundial markings with the phrase "Fugio," a Latin motto that suggests that the sun and time are flying. The bottom of the coin, another marking reflecting Franklin's humour, reads, "mind your business." The flip side of the coin shows 13 links in a chain (symbolizing the first 13 states) and an inscription of the American motto "we are one."

Value: The Fugio cent coin is accessible considering its intriguing background. You can buy Fugio cents for a few hundred dollars, but those in good condition can sell for up to $10,000. In addition, specific rare versions of the coin are valued at tens of thousands. 

The Lincoln Head Copper Penny

Year: 1943

Origin: The U.S.

The Story: Pennies were traditionally made of nickel and copper but, when the war hit, the U.S. needed these metals for their war efforts. As a result, the U.S. started making pennies out of steel. During the transition period, however, the U.S. mint accidentally struck a penny batch with copper. This mistake is thought to have happened due to blanks still in inventory.

It’s estimated that between 20 and 40 of these pennies survived. Unfortunately, many of these rare coins are faked by coating steel pennies with copper and altering their dates to 1945, 1948 or 1949. The good news is you can tell if the coin is steel by seeing if it is magnetic or not. 

Value: A traditional steel Lincoln penny from 1943 can still earn you 30 or 40 times its face value (30 or 40 cents). The special copper coins, however, sold at a 2019 auction for $204,000. The coin was sold by a man who had found the penny at his school cafeteria 70 years prior. 

The Age of the Coin: How Old is It?

Age is not always as important as some of the other factors we use to determine old coin values and price, but it still plays a significant role. After all, the past centuries have seen major monetary and currency changes because of the World Wars, Civil War, and the turn of the 20th Century. The coins circulated at this time have transcended time, earning them high numismatic value, and making them rare collectible coins worth money.

Generally speaking, old coins are typically worth more than more recent mints. Case in point: the rare Draped Bust quarter from 1804 is more valuable than any of the 50 state quarters that were minted between 1999 and 2008.

That said, this is not always the case, as some newer specimens sell for much higher prices than older ones of the same series. This is made apparent when you consider the value of old coins like old Canadian pennies. For example, the 1943 Wheat Head penny is a lot more valuable than the 1873 Indian Head penny, though this is mainly due to the consideration of other factors such as strike quality and rarity.

Needless to say, if you’re not sure what to do with old Canadian pennies, you may want to take a quick look at them before you toss your collection. You could have a rare goldmine on your hands!

Design: What’s Printed on Your Old Coin?

The actual design minted onto an old coin is another major factor that comes into play when determining old coin values. Old coin prices could be due to limited mintage, an error during the minting process, or a specific variation.

Small Crowns

Take, for instance, the 1906 Canada “Small Crown” Quarter. This coin is a rare find because it was minted in error. While some quarters at this time were printed with a large crown, a handful were printed with a small crown. We previously purchased a “Small Crown” quarter for $975 and, if you find one, you should get a free evaluation from our experts. It can be difficult to spot the difference between the rare “small crown” and “large crown” versions.

Dot Cent

Another example is that of the rare “dot cent” penny, of which the Royal Canadian Mint produced only 3. These are distinguished by a dot underneath the date on the coin’s tails side. This dot was printed to indicate the new batch of cents that re-used the George V templates after his passing and the abdication of his son Edward. According to The National Post, the rare penny was sold for about $235,000 at an U.S. coin auction – that’s more than 25 million times its face value.

Small Cents

Design can also refer to a coin’s size. For example, Canadian pennies shrunk in size after 1920, making certain pre-1920 pennies quite rare and valuable, like the 1858 or certain variations of the 1859.


A telling feature of a rare old coin worth money is if it has errors or imperfections. Often, it's pieces with cracks, missing sections, double prints, or rugged edges that tell a story and hold substantial value. You'd be surprised how these errors impact old coins' price values.

Validity: Is it real?

The unfortunate reality is that there are fake coins out there, so it’s important to confirm the validity of yours. Ways to identify the validity of your coin is to determine the following:

  • If it’s real gold or silver 
  • Its markings or die
  • Its professional evaluation
  • Check online or physical coin references

Research: Is it Online?

After assessing your coin's age, rarity, and design, a good step to take is to do some research on old coin values. First, see if any of your old coins are for sale online or on an old coin’s price list. Then, you can cross-reference this research with a professional evaluation.

old canadian coins

Get Your Coins Evaluated

Unfortunately, there are many scammers on the market who make false grading claims or devalue your old rare coins to buy them well under their value.

Before selling, know the value of your old coins. If you have old coins worth money, check out what we pay for gold and silver and look at our homepage, where we include updated daily market prices. When you sell old silver coins, gold, and other precious metals to Muzeum Gold and Silver, you can trust that we will give you a fair evaluation and the best prices you can find.

We are experienced coin buyers and sellers dedicated to providing our customers with the prices, information, service, and honesty they deserve.

E-Mail Muzeum To Schedule Your Free Evaluation

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