Dr. Sol Taylor

It's a Good Time to Start Collecting State Quarters

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
The Signal
Saturday, December 9, 2006

ith four-fifths of the state quarters already issued, it is a good time to get caught up and be ready to finish off the entire collection once the last coins are minted.

    So far, there are no scarce or even mildly hard-to-get dates or states. The first five — Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut — still are found in circulation, but not usually in mint condition. Many coin dealers stock uncirculated specimens of the coins both from the "P" (Philadelphia) and "D" (Denver) mints.

    In a recent experiment, I bought five rolls of quarters at my local bank in Sherman Oaks. I managed to find 16 different uncirculated states — all "D" mintmarks. I am sure the "P" mintmark coins are just as available in cities such as New York, Boston and Washington.

    The 2000 issues of Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia can still be found in circulation, but again, not usually in Brilliant Uncirculated condition. However, the issues from 2001 and up to 2006 show up in mixed bank wrapped rolls, and often whole rolls of a single state in BU can be found.

    Dealers who advertise the entire series were offering the first 70 coins (35 coins from each mint from 1999-2005) for $34.95, which is less than double the face value.

    If one wants to start now with all of the previously issued "P" and "D" coins, it's a good time. The remaining issues will be available at most banks shortly after the date of issue.

    The more complicated part of collecting the 50-state quarters is the issuance of proof and silver proof coins. These are not sold by the roll and are only offered directly from the Mint at a premium.

    Most of the annual issues are included in complete sets with the other denominations. One holder contains the cent through the dollar (except 1999). One recent price list offers all eight sets, 1999-2006, for $425. The silver sets are more expensive, and except for the sets ordered recently from the Mint, the same retail ad offers all eight silver sets, 1999-2006, for $815.

    If Congress extends the series to include the U.S. territories — District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa — a complete set would consist of 220 coins.

    If proof coins aren't in the collection, one could house the "P" and "D" coins in one of the bookshelf-type albums currently on the market for a very handsome and presentable collection.

    Since the mintages of these "P" and "D" coins are in the hundreds of millions per state, the chance of it being a sound numismatic investment is questionable. However, from the current sales figures, the complete set of 200 (or 220) coins may prove to be a real bonanza.

    For purists who prefer circulated coins — there is still time to find all the issues from 1999 to date in circulation. As with all collections, the fun of assembling a complete set is not only challenging but rewarding when actually completed.

    For school-aged youngsters, it is a real hands-on history lesson with each state having a message to tell and putting it in its perspective with relation to the other states.

    Most Americans were not yet born when our last two states, Hawaii and Alaska, were admitted to the union. The sequence of the states admitted to the union is a good history lesson — and not just for youngsters.

    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.