Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct how much a $20 bill sold for. We regret the error.
(NEXSTAR) – You may have a collection of state quarters you’ve been working on for years, or a stash of $2 bills you hope have some worth. But when it comes to our currency, are there really any that are worth more than they were meant to be?
If you’re a currency collector, you know the answer already: yes, there are some dollars and coins that carry a higher value than the U.S. Mint printed on them originally.
Pennies adorned with wheat, for example, could be as worth as much as $1,500 if the date next to President Abraham Lincoln’s head is just right. Sometimes called a ‘wheatie,’ those that were never circulated could be worth twice as much.
But how can you tell if your penny, quarter, or $2 bill is worth more than $2.26?
“The answer is not always obvious,” Dustin Johnson, Vice President of Numismatics (the study or collection of coins, paper money, and medals) at Heritage Auctions tells Nexstar. “Odd items are always set aside but that doesn’t make them rare or terribly valuable.”
He offers the example of Silver Certificates. They were printed between 1928 and the 1960s and carry blue seals and serial numbers. Though that may make them seem valuable, coupled with the fact that you have likely never seen one, Johnson notes they “are rarely worth a significant premium over face value.”
The money you have in your wallet or pocket right now is also likely worth its face value and nothing more. There are unique features that can change that, like errors or “a fancy serial number.”
“A true serial number 1 banknote or notes with solid serial numbers can be worth thousands, while some errors can also launch an item into that value range,” Johnson says. He points to a $20 bill with a serial number printed over a Del Monte sticker that was found by a college student stocking ATMs as a bank teller. The note sold for nearly $400,000 during a 2021 auction.
“That was a true anomaly, and unlikely to be repeated, but still some value can be found,” he continues.
Other errors, like double denominations and a note with different denominations on the front and back, are the rarest and most valuable. But, errors you don’t notice right away may have lesser value to collectors.
Currently, collectors are vying for higher denomination notes. According to Johnson, that includes “$500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 Federal Reserve notes [that] were printed from 1928 into the 1940s are bringing record prices.”
That includes a $10,000 note that sold for a record $456,000 last year.
If you don’t have a big bill or a note featuring a fruit sticker, you may still have some worthwhile currency. Certain versions of $2 bills, depending on their age, could be valuable, as could your wheat pennies and state quarters.
It’s best to take your money to a verified coin expert, like Heritage Auctions, which can evaluate your item for free.