Penny sorting has many types of different sorters involved. Here we discuss different types of sorters dealing with pennies/one-cent coins. It is important to realize penny sorting has a wide range of participants in the community who may consider themselves anywhere from hobbyist to professional.
Why sort pennies
Many reasons as to why sort pennies exist. People sort coins primarily as a hobby. A hobby means for fun and not necessarily for profit. These people enjoy beating the odds while looking through coin for potentially a one-in-a-million rare find.
There are others who sort pennies for profit. People who do this tend to search anywhere from thousands to millions or even billions of coins looking for potential value in rare or error coins.
The average hand sorter doesn’t just check for pocket change, but gathers pennies to actively search them. The hand sorter looks for key dates, rare coins, and collects pennies that may eventually yield value.
Cash outlay is minimal. This sorter does not invest a lot of money. Hand sorters typically go through coin for fun and aren’t necessarily interested in profit.
Professional Hand Sorter
The professional hand sorter still goes through coin by hand, however, will typically make bank runs to purchase boxes of pennies to go through. In fact, the professional hand sorter may attempt to buy bags at $50 face value to go search. While searching, this hand sorter looks not just for fun, but also for potential profit. Meaning, resale value of the coins they find.
A machine sorter typically owns small-end coin comparator to search their pennies. You can buy these on eBay for minimal money. See examples here: coin comparator. In addition, this type of penny sorter may look for feeding or hopper mechanisms to sort their coins.
Professional Machine Sorter
The professional machine sorter owns heavy-duty industrial machines. These machines are capable of sorting thousands of coins per minute so penny sorting in bulk is no problem. Furthermore, the professional machine sorter may have a contract with an armored car company to sort coin going through their facility.
Coins of value people penny sort to find:
The sorter, whether by hand or machine, is looking for the pennies made of copper from 1982 or earlier. While sorting for these copper pennies, a sorter is often looking for numismatic coin collecting value. Usually these higher value coins are wheat pennies or Indianhead cents. These coins fetch a premium.
The Indianhead penny is dated prior to 1909. These coins are often thicker in diameter if not too worn down and are very easily distinguishable from other pennies. The obverse, or front, of the coin shows a profile image of a Native American Indian.
While penny sorting U.S. pennies, one will often find Canadian pennies in circulated coin. Though technically not a valid currency in the United States, these coins are worth keeping. In fact, all Canadian pennies are worth keeping since Canada eliminated its penny in 2012. They have become obvious coin collector sought coins and hold value.
San Francisco “S” Mint Pennies
Any penny with an S mint mark on it means it was minted from the San Francisco Mint. These are more rare, usually significantly less exist, and tend to be worth more money as a result. These are worth keeping. If you find one, especially an older coin, saving it could be very worth while.
Brilliant Uncirculated, BU Cents
Brilliant Uncirculated, or BU, does not mean it was never in circulation. BU means they are bright and shiny or high grade. Higher grade coins are worth keeping. Many coin collectors tend to keep these for their coin collecting books. Coin collectors find these coins appealing. Most higher dollar pennies tend to be brilliant uncirculated.
Error pennies are highly sought and valuable. These can include pennies that are double die, misprints, off-center, and other various errors created during the U.S. Mint production stage. Be on the look out for fakes and post-mint damaged coins. There are plenty of these available on sites like eBay for sale as can be seen here: error pennies
Learn more about the penny: United States Penny