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Your couch cushions could be a goldmine for hidden treasures

Les Gold: The charismatic patriarch of the Gold family, Les built American Jewelry and Loan from the ground up. Les is an old school, hard-nosed pawnbroker at heart with a passion for collecting unusual items and a nose for deals – and p...

Check your pennies – your spare change could make you a fortune

The United States Department of the Treasury has recently announced that the $20, $10 and $5 bills will be getting makeovers to honor America’s history. The new designs will feature notable women, including Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill, and will be revealed in 2020 to celebrate the bicentennial of women’s suffrage. This exciting overhaul to the design of American currency has left us with money on the mind!

More: Harriet Tubman would only earn $12.80 of that $20 bill today

As a pawnshop, we often deal in collectible currencies. American currency has a long history, beginning with the use of colonial notes in the 1690s. Many people collect old or rare banknotes and coins, and some of these currencies can be extremely valuable.

The worth of collectible currency depends on age — the older the better — and condition. Both coins and paper money are graded on a scale of 70 points, with a grade of 70 indicating the currency shows no evidence of handling at five times magnification.

Keeping age and condition in mind, check your piggy bank for the following collectible coins and paper bills.

1. Buffalo nickels

The Buffalo nickel was a copper 5-cent piece first minted in 1913 and featured an American bison on one side and an American Indian chief on the other. In 1938, the Buffalo nickel was replaced by the Jefferson nickel we use today. Today, certain rare kinds of Buffalo nickels can be worth as much as $3,500, or for the more common varieties with the dates worn off, as little as 25 cents. Hey — that’s five times the original value!

More: How to buy jewelry as an investment

2. Kennedy half-dollars

Coins minted prior to 1965 are 90 percent silver. Kennedy half-dollars first entered circulation in 1964 and are some of the last coins with a metal content of 90 percent silver. Silver coins with a date before 1965 are worth $10 to every $1, so if you have a 1963 Kennedy half-dollar, you have $5.00 — 10 times the face value of the coin.

3. Misprints, errors and double-struck coins

Coins that didn't turn out quite as the mint intended are known as error coins and are highly collectible. These are coins with clipped edges, overstruck dates and other imperfections. One of the most valuable error coins, the 1969-S Doubled Die Lincoln cent, can go for as much as $35,000. A Wisconsin state quarter from 2004 that displays an extra leaf on a corn stalk can be worth up to $300.

4. Paper money with high face values

American currency uses $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. We’re sure you’re very familiar with these bills, but did you know that $500 and $1,000 bills were printed and circulated until 1969? Although these large bills are legal tender and can be redeemed for face value, if you find one, you might want to hang onto it because a $500 bill with a condition grade of 62 can be worth as much as $1,700 to a collector!

More: Male-dominated pawnbroking is actually a great career choice for women

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