How can a currency become worthless?

Most currencies are Fiat Money, not backed by a commodity (like Gold and Silver) but backed by the government that printed it.
Fiat money is a currency without intrinsic value established as money, often by government regulation. It has an assigned value only because the government uses its power to enforce the value of a fiat currency or because the exchanging parties agree to its value.
It was introduced as an alternative to commodity money and representative money. Commodity money is created from a good, often a precious metal such as gold or silver, which has uses other than as a medium of exchange (such a good is called a commodity). Representative money is similar to fiat money, but it represents a claim on a commodity (which can be redeemed to a greater or lesser extent). From Wikipedia

If the government behind the Fiat currency becomes insolvent, or acquires extensive debt, their currency may be devalued (relative to other Fiat currencies), their ability to borrow money will be affected (lenders will demand higher interest rates because of the risk), and prices will climb as the currency loses value. At present, Venezuela, Argentina, Zimbabwe, and other countries are suffering due to the inflation they are experiencing. Venezuela is even considering making their own cryptocurrency, the “Petro”, as a solution to their problems.

Some related websites:
What would you do if your money became worthless? – Prosperous Way Down website
A worthless currency – The Economist (Article on Zimbabwe)
11 Times Currency Was Rendered Almost Worthless (and Why) – Ranker
What Happens When Your Money Is Suddenly Worthless? – Cracked (article on India)

The Greek Crisis Explained – (Infographic) – from Gainesville coins

Many people invest in Gold and Silver as a “Hedge” against devaluation. This can be done with collectable coins and jewelry, or bullion.  Gold and Silver bullion – on eBay.

Here’s hoping your value is strong!
The Last Word:
Thank you for reading this heavily referenced piece!  Please enjoy your money and share this with friends!

How is the value of bullion coins determined?

Bullion coins have, at their base, the smelt value of their base metal (e.g. Gold, silver, etc.).  Even though we consider Bullion to be Silver or Gold, Copper, Platinum, and Palladium are all used in coins.  You also have to consider the purity of the product – 24 karat gold? .999 Silver?  Alloys are often hard to spot, unless you use a test kit . (link to Amazon)


Smelt values for US coins can be found here: U.S. Silver Coin Melt Value Calculator – Coinflation

Bullion prices are based on weight (usually ounces or Troy ounces) and  subject to are supply and demand, based on market forces.

Bullion Values – Bullion Values website

 

Many coins are considered “Culls” or rejects because of circulation marks and wear. These can usually be bought at near melt value because they have diminished value as a collectible coin.

Coin Speak: 10 Coin Terms You Need To Know (And They’ll Help You Sound Like A Real Numismatist!) | The U.S. Coin Guide

How To Invest In Gold And Silver: Buy Gold And Silver Bullion The Easy And Safe Way

The Gold Book: What’s It Worth? A Guide to Commonly Traded Gold Bullion Coins, Bars and Karat Gold Jewelry

One of my favorite places to buy Bullion coins is eBay, especially if you like Bullion coins with Elvis or Koalas.

US Money, Even Bills, were backed by gold (on the gold Standard), until 1933:

Executive order, and 1905 $20 Gold certificate

Good luck with your bullion – know your values!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share!

The Las Word: