Odd coins you get in your change

I went to pay someone and pulled a toonie out of my pocket. Except it didn’t feel like a toonie - just a bit too small and light.

So I looked more closely - bi-metallic coin, but Spanish words?

A Panamanian balboa?

I must have got it in my change and not noticed it.

So, what’s a balboa worth, anyway?

And how did it migrate so far north?

1 Balboa is pegged to the value of the US dollar. That coin has existed in that form since 2011.

I keep getting old pre-cupro-nickel, silver nickels (i.e., 5 cent pieces, for you non-Americans;)).

I have no idea who keeps giving it to me. But I suspect it is a Bigby coffee shop I go to.

I don’t know if they are worth anything. Probably not. But I do hold on to them, probably because I am just a hoarder by nature.

As I said before on these boards, I also deliberately collect bicentennial quarters and wheat stalk pennies I find in change. I don’t know what they are worth either. But they may be growing in value, because I have noticed, it is getting harder and harder to find them in change.


Buffalo nickels are notorious for having the dates wear off, making them of no value to coin collectors, so they are worth 5 cents, period. When I was a kid, I thought it was hilarious to fish them out of boxes of “cull” coins at the coin shop I used to go to, and spend them. Sometimes, just to be really funny, I’d get Indian head pennies and spend them, even thought the most worthless ones were still worth about 50 cents.

When I worked at the movies, there was a guy who came in who always had two-dollar bills. He thought it was funny to spend them, because a lot of people didn’t even know they existed.

The silver nickels, if you are talking about Jefferson nickels, are WWII nickels. They had silver in them, because nickel was needed for munitions manufacture. They are worth a little, because silver has gone up significantly since WWII. If you are talking about actual silver five-cent pieces, which is to say, half-dimes, that were minted a long time ago, before any nickel coins were minted in the US, those are very valuable. If someone is putting those in circulation, you have a very rich prankster in your midst.

Wheat pennies can be worth something, if they are very old. If you are finding ones from before about 1930, and especially before 1920, they may be worth something, but if you are finding ones later than 1950, no, not worth anything.

Bicentennial coins are not worth more than face value. They were minted by the millions. You don’t see them much, because so many people save them, like you do.

Years ago, I got a South American coin (maybe a Bolivian boliviano?) in my change instead of a quarter (I believe it was at a Mmmuffins). I went back to the cashier and demanded a real quarter instead. Then when I got back to work, I looked up the value of the coin I returned and it was worth 32 cents – oops.

I think you can get a small markup for buffalos by selling them to those who make bracelets that incorporate the coins.

Regarding the two dollar bill, spending one can get the authorities to come after you.

Nothing especially weird here, but once or twice I’ve got a loonie as a (US) quarter.

I once got a Swedish krona coin that was about the same size as a US quarter. I live in the US.

I may have told this one before. When I worked in Florida in the mid-1980s, we had a flag football league at work that played on Sunday mornings. After the game, we would go across the street to a little bodega to get Gatorade, or a similar drink. One morning, a few of us got Mercury head dimes in our change. I don’t think that I had ever seen one before, let alone the 5 or 6 that we collectively got as change. One enterprising guy went back in and asked for change for a dollar, in dimes. I’m guessing that some kid stole a roll of Mercury head dimes from his parents and used it to buy something at the store.

I noticed I have an Andrew Jackson dollar among the loose change in my pocket a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t notice when I received it so I can’t say whether somebody gave it to me legitimately or mistook it for a quarter. I haven’t spent it because it’s unusual.

I once found a 1940 Mercury head dime in a pay phone coin slot.

I used to work at a bowling alley. Kids would come in to play the pinball and video games after school. Over a couple of weeks, I found several silver dimes and quarters in the till, along with a 1923 series $20 bill. I figure some kid was looting his parent’s collection for french fries and nachos.

oh lets see, a pfennig or two, a small assortment of other European coins a 1/2 shequel, several Asian coins from various countries, bushels of wheat pennies, one indian head penny, assorted coins from mexico and other American nations further south, one silver $10 peice of indeterminate age as the date was worn off and one 1985 liberty silver coin that some of the silver has worn off the raised portions of the lettering and the brass is showing through, its close enough in size to a fifty cent piece to be mistaken for one, and several $1 coins from Susan B. Anthony to Sacajawea to the presidential ones.
OH and of course, loads and loads of Canadian coins

Just the other day I got a beat up 1935 quarter in change. It’s unusual to see silver coins in circulation, as collectors have grabbed them up.

I count the money where I work, I’ve collected all the odd (foreign) coins that my cashiers have some how mistaken for US currency. Sure, some of them look a little like ours, but a Euro Cent is about half the size of a penny, as is a Trinidad and Tobago coin, and a few of them have scalloped edges (one from Mexico and one from Jamaica). There’s also $1 coin from Mexico, it looks like a toonie but it’s about the size of a nickel, I have no idea what someone thought that might have been. Similarly, there’s a car wash token. Someone must have accepted it as a giant penny or a bronze colored nickel.

Looking at them, I see I also have two slugs in there. One I think is a genuinely totally worn smooth quarter, the other is the diameter of a dime, but thin enough that you could bend it my hand if you wanted too.


Nothing to update really since my reply in the 2012 “penny” thread.

I’m still just as surprised when I get a steel penny every couple of years. Almost as common as other wheat pennies in my change.

That’s a pretty glaring mistake for them to make - the sizes aren’t even close. A loonie is the same diameter as, and very close to the weight of, a Sacagawea dollar coin.

I have a US quarter somewhere that looks like it was used for target practice. Likely a BB gun.

There are a bunch of dollar coin threads on here where people complain that the Sacagawea/presidential dollars are the same size as quarters.

Dollar 8.1 g 26 mm
Loonie 6.27 g 26.5 mm
Quarter 5.67g 24 mm

so the quarter is closer in weight while the dollar coin is closer in size to the loonie. 2.5 mm is a tenth of an inch pretty hard to tell unless you have both coins. 0.6g is about half the weight of a US dollar bill. I doubt you could tell that even with both coins. And coins lose mass when circulated. An old (new weight) loonie could weigh less than a newer dollar coin