Joe O

Money Bytes

Joe O'Donnell

Joe O’Donnell, digital content producer, joined the Coin World editorial staff in 2014. Joe writes web content, manages Coin World’s social media accounts, compiles content for daily digital eNewsletters, and contributes on occasion to the print magazine. He has enjoyed interacting with Coin World readers while covering the sale of coins from the Saddle Ridge Hoard and the 50th anniversary Kennedy half dollar releases.

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The one that got away: Rare coins used at face value

Nothing makes a numismatist cringe like someone letting a rarity pass through their hands unwittingly (unless it is passed into the hands of that numismatist).

Along those lines, Coin World Facebook follower Jack Kennedy posted this on our wall:

"I wanna hear a story if you've ever had someone you know, (spouse, sibling, etc.) unknowingly spend one of your coin pieces from your collection, as face value!"

Here’s what we’ve heard so far:

Ken Lemke: "The wife spent one of my $20 gem star notes on dog food. The identification of a star note was the dinner topic that evening."

Elijah Homuth: "I didn't myself but a kid I know showed me like 8 Morgan dollars and bought stuff with them. Or that's what I heard. I wasn't there when he actually bought the stuff....But I heard he bought McDonalds."

Louis Fiorella: "The kids cashing in pennies at machine when I looked down to see 2 Indian Heads moving on belt. I was able to grab but where did they come from, and what got by?"

David Martin: "I have a nephew who works for the PSA, and someone came in last year and paid part of their water bill with a roll of pre-1964 quarters. At face value.."

Jon Herrick: "Got a proof Statehood quarter in my change from a vending machine at work one day. I figure some kid cracked a set open and spent it."

Paul Gunsallus: "Went to the local grocery store to pick up a few items. Thought I would stop to get a scratch-off at the lottery vending machine. Some old dude was having a difficult time getting his $1 to get accepted into the machine, when I noticed he had what I seen as an original $100 pack of consecutive serial numbered silver certificates. He was not getting any of them to get accepted and I offered to buy them so he could get some different $1's and he said, 'Mind your own business,' and walked out of the store."

Paul Gunsallus: "I used to crack open Proof sets to submit Proof coins to PCGS. If I had a coin that didn't make my grade, I would just spend it. I must have dumped dozens of Proof coins that were already scratched up or whatever. On occasion, I would come across one in change.”

Have a story? Share it in the comment section below!

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Older Comments (7)
The year was 1956. I went to the luncheonette/newsstand on my block to buy a few penny candies. I noticed one of my nearly new pennies didn't look right. I returned home to ask my mom about it. She said it looks bad and I'd be better off getting rid of it in a gumball machine. I did just that.

The penny got me thinking about coins and I was soon a six year old coin collector upon whom it dawned I had spent a 1955 double die penny on gum. There's still a hole in my collection from hoping the penny would find it's way back to me.
Years ago I stopped at a local convenience store to buy a soda I paid the clerk with a ten dollar bill the clerk proceeds to give me my change and to my surprise she hands a Morgan silver dollar with my change I tried to explain to her what she had but she said there was no spot for it in her register so she insists that I take it my lucky day
My bank knowing I collect coins saved me 5 rolls of wheat pennies for face value. All 5 rolls were dated 1910 to 1919. No there wasn't a 1914D. I sold them for $238 dollars.