Collecting Coins from Pocket Change

Quarter holders
There are several products on the market that make 50-state quarter collecting fun and educational. For instance, kids can learn geography as they plug the "quarter holes" in this U.S. map (courtesy of Coins Plus in Newhall) while Mom and Dad keep their quarters in pristine condition in a specially designed album.

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
The Signal
Saturday, May 21, 2005

nlike the days before World War II when I started collecting coins, the coins now in circulation hardly rise to the level of "scarce" and certainly not "rare." One can barely expect to find any silver coins; rarely a wheat-back cent; and very rarely a wartime nickel (1942-1945).
    About the only series one can expect to find a complete set from circulation without relying on a coin dealer is the Lincoln Memorial set (although there are a few toughies out there); Jefferson nickels (the 1938-D and 1938-S, the 1939-D and 1939-S and the 1950-D pose a real challenge); Roosevelt dimes (other than the silver issues); Kennedy halves (again, other than silver and one or two scarcer dates); and modern Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea golden dollars.
    But there is hope.
    The 50-States Quarters program, which began in 1999 with the Delaware quarter, poses only a small challenge, since all the "P" (Philadelphia) and "D" (Denver) mint issues are still found in circulation.
    In a recent four day trip to Boston, I found nearly all the P-mint quarters issued to date, including the new California quarter. None of the issues is considered scarce, since the mintage figures are in the hundreds of millions. The only challenge is for collectors in the East to find D-mint coins and collectors in the West to find P-mint coins.
    To meet the criterion of completeness, however, one would have to buy coins from the Mint or from dealers in the aftermarket. The "S" (San Francisco) mint coins come in two versions — silver and copper-nickel clad. These coins do not circulate, and their mintages are a fraction of the P and D issues.
    The original plan was for 50 states but later was expanded to include five other areas: Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, making the total of 55 designs — and with four varieties of each design (P, D, S silver and S clad), the set is complete at 220 coins.
    If a collector would be satisfied with the P- and D-mint coins, that still would be a collection of 110 coins.
    No doubt by the end of the program, some earlier issues will become scarcer to find, making it harder for newer collectors to finish their sets from circulation. Dealers always seem to have enough rolls on hand to meet the demand, however.
    New albums have already been issued for all of the quarters in the series, and beginning collectors can have as much fun assembling their collection as I had back in the 1940s trying to assemble a complete set of Indian head cents from change — minus two coins I never found.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.