She Found a $20,000 Penny With Her Kids

Written By Luke Burgess

Posted June 1, 2022

There's a new trend that has been sweeping YouTube with hundreds of videos — one that claims you can earn hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars with this hobby.

It's called “coin roll hunting.” And it's pretty much exactly what you imagine it is: searching through rolls of coins to hunt for collectible and valuable coinage.


The main thing most hunters are looking for are old 90% silver coins. Those are U.S. quarters, dimes, and half-dollars minted before 1965.

They also search for 40% silver U.S. half-dollars (1965–1970) and 35% silver war nickels (1942–1945).

Older coin designs, like the wheat penny (1909–1958) and buffalo nickels (1913–1938) are also hunted and collected.

On top of that, coin roll hunters look for proof coins that normally wouldn't make it into circulation, toned (colored) coins that catch the eye, and coin varieties and errors.

In a blog titled 1 Million Pennies Project, Texas woman Megan Green describes her introduction to the hobby:

When it was time to have some mommy alone time, I’d get on YouTube and watch different videos such as photography, music, education, and news. I one day came across a news reporting video about the 1970 Washington Quarter that had been stamped with a Canadian Quarter and was sold for $35,000. I was dumbfounded as to how someone would pay that much for a quarter. A thought came to my mind about trying out this new hobby and I felt if I could help out financially for my family and enjoy doing it at the same time, it’s a win-win situation. I sat there almost two hours scrolling through different coin videos which soon had me hooked!

Mrs. Green and her kids were able to find many different die varieties. But one stuck out: a very rare 1969-S Lincoln Cent with an error called a “double die obverse.” Here's the coin she found:


This is not the coin Green found, but it shows much better detail of the doubling error:1969sddoc

To get an idea of how much Mrs. Green's coin is worth, we can look at past auction sales of the same grade and variety. PCGS reports that the last sale of a 1969-S Lincoln Cent DDO with the same grade was in February 2022. That coin sold for $20,400.

Green's story is not unique. There have been many very valuable finds in coin roll hunting. And I highly encourage you to start hunting, too.

However, you should prepare to be disappointed. Truth is, these coins are so valuable because they're rare.

Unless you're extremely lucky, you're going to have to look through hundreds of rolls of coins to find anything really valuable. Remember, Green's blog is featured on a site called 1 Million Pennies Project. That's probably how many pennies she and her kids looked through to find this one coin.

Can you make a lot of money coin roll hunting? Yes, you can. But your odds of actually finding something worth thousands of dollars is something like one in a million. You can also make a lot of money playing the lottery — and your odds are about the same. 

So why would I encourage you to start? Well, even though you may not ever find anything valuable, coin roll hunting can still be very rewarding. And investing your time into it might have more benefits than you think.

Searching through coins is very repetitive: Pick up a coin, examine it, find nothing, and put it back down. Rinse and repeat. The repetitive nature of the hobby might sound a bit boring. But it's also quite zen.

It's an activity that requires focus and attention to detail. To me, it's very much like zen gardening. If that's something you're interested in, then I'd highly recommend coin roll hunting. But as far as hunting for profit, there are way better options.