Question for the USA Folks, Re: Coins

Were you even aware they’re doing, like, a second set of state quarters? I got the one above in my change yesterday and at first quick glance I thought I’d been given a one euro coin. Which would have been an unusual thing in Bradford, Ohio, to be sure.

I think I remember hearing about this second set at some point, but it must have slipped my mind at some point. I think it’s probably because when it comes right down to it I don’t actually look that much at the coins in my pocket anymore. Particularly quarters, which these days I just assume have some bit of patriotic busywork on their backside.

So: Were you aware about this second round of state quarters? Apparently they’ve been going on since 2010. Man, I am clueless, numismatically speaking.

70 thoughts on “Question for the USA Folks, Re: Coins

  1. I noticed them a couple of weeks ago when I got a few South Dakota’s that have Mt. Rushmore on them. They also feel a little light, more like arcade tokens.

  2. I knew about them, but didn’t associate them with the states they’re in – I just associated them with the national park/site they represent, but yeah, there is only one per state. But keep in mind Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest has already come out, and they’re going to include ones for American Samoa and other non-states. The schedule there shows they’re going to be making these things for a long time to come. That page is cool – it’s interesting how many of those are out that I haven’t even seen yet.

  3. Yeah I’ve been noticing them. My Sister-In-Law has been collecting them for years. So I trade them to her whenever I come across a new one. The raised rim of the tails side of the newer ones has given me a couple “What the heck is that?” moments though.

  4. Yes, the second series is state/national parks. My partner has been collecting them, he has all the first series state quarters too. They’re fun, I enjoy seeing the artwork. I think we’ve got all but three to be up to date.

  5. I collect coins, so I have been aware of these. I haven’t come across as many of them in circulation as when the previous round of state quarters came out, so I’m not too surprised you hadn’t known about them until now. This time the around the theme is national parks/forests/monuments/etc. Instead of being released in statehood order, they’re being released in the order of when the particular place became a national protected site.

  6. Better than the sad Presidential dollars which no one uses, but they have to make because it’s an act of Congress. I think we’re just about up to Hoover. .

  7. I’d use the Presidential dollars more if they just replaced the dollar bills with them.

  8. I had no idea. We were all-in on the first set of quarters–bought the map to put them in, had the entire extended family on the lookout (TX was our most difficult get), etc. Then they started with the nickels and I told my daughter, “Not again!” I’ll be keeping this new bit of news to myself.

  9. Back when I was a lad (he said, calibrating his rocking chair) I found not just indian-head pennies in circulation, but the occasional 2-cent pieces and 3-cent pieces worn down to hard-to-read status.

    Coins of the United States dollar were first minted in 1792. New coins have been produced annually since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the United States currency system. Today, circulating coins exist in denominations of 1¢ (i.e. 1 cent or $0.01), 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1.00. Also minted are bullion (including gold, silver and platinum) and commemorative coins. All of these are produced by the United States Mint. The coins are then sold to Federal Reserve Banks which in turn are responsible for putting coins into circulation and withdrawing them as demanded by the country’s economy.

    Obsolete coins:
    Half cent: 0.5¢, copper, 1793–1857
    Large cent: 1¢, copper, 1793–1857
    Steel cent: 1¢, steel, 1943
    Two-cent piece: 2¢, copper, 1864–1873
    Three-cent piece: 3¢, silver, 1851–1873, and copper-nickel, 1865–1889
    Half dime (also known as half disme): 5¢, silver, 1792–1873
    Twenty-cent piece: 20¢, silver, 1875–1878
    Large size dollar: $1.00, silver (some modern commemoratives are minted in this denomination)
    Gold dollar: $1.00, gold, 1849–1889
    Quarter eagle: $2.50, gold, 1792–1929
    Three-dollar piece: $3.00, gold, 1854–1889
    Stella: $4.00, gold (not circulated)
    Half eagle: $5.00, gold (some modern commemoratives are minted in this denomination)
    Eagle: $10.00, gold (some modern commemoratives are minted in this denomination)
    Double eagle: $20.00, gold, discontinued in the 1930s, minted again in 2009
    Half-union: $50.00 (Commemorative only), 1877 (pattern), 1915 (Panama–Pacific International Exposition coin)

  10. Weird, I was thinking the same thing just yesterday, staring at this 2014 Virginia/Shenandoah quarter sitting on my desk.

  11. Not the same thing, but I got a Florida quarter yesterday that was colored. It doesn’t look like legal tender.

  12. “Numismatically” is a word that should get used more often. Along with “kerfuffle” and “vexological”

  13. My change either goes unlooked at into a tip jar or into my pocket where it’s put unlooked at in the coin jar that gets taken to the Coinstar machine where it gets turned into Amazon credit so it’s like free money. I can’t remember the last time I actually counted change.

    I’m for dumping the penny as a form of currency but apparently the zinc lobby is just too dang powerful.

  14. We also see new series of coins – some commemorative, some celebratory. One I just found in my change is part of the set for 100 year anniversary of the first Canadian Arctic expedition.

    It’s fairly common in Toronto to get other countries’ coins in our change – American being the most common of course. Since I started paying attention, I found Britain (5 and 10p coins), Australia (10p), Euro (2c), Bahamas (1c), German (1p). I also pull out any old coins I find (pre 1950). Seeing a face that is not Queen Elizabeth II is always a surprise.

  15. I’ve been collecting them, just like I collected the 50 state quarters. However, because of the economic downturn of the last several years, there aren’t nearly as many National Parks quarters in circulation as there are 50 State quarters. For example, the Virginia quarter, minted in 2000, had nearly 1.6 billion quarters. Contrast that with the first few years of the National Parks series, where most quarters didn’t get to 70 million minted. (The same goes for the “extra year” state quarters from 2009, for DC and the territories; most of those had less than 100 million minted.) There’s been an upswing in the past year, though, with recent releases topping 500 million. So people haven’t been noticing the 2010-2012 issues, but they are noticing more recent quarters.

  16. I was vaguely aware the U.S. Mint folks didn’t stop with issuing just 50 state quarters and ventured into Territories (e.g., District of Columbia). But I was not aware they had segued into National Parks. More grist for the collectors’ mill, I guess.

  17. These days, I can barely tell the difference between a nickel and a quarter any more, what with all the fiddling with designs. We did have the same rather ugly coins for a long time when I was growing up. I’m not sure this is an improvement.

    My jaded take on it is, it’s a way for the government to spend more money without increasing inflation as much as usual. People collect the coins and store them away, so they have less of an impact on the money supply. Then, the mints get to sell lovely proof sets of 50 coins at a tidy premium, and those are just going into closets forevermore.

  18. I didn’t notice, but now I’ll look for them.

    @zephark: “My jaded take on it is, it’s a way for the government to spend more money without increasing inflation …”.

    That’s true only in essentially the same way that taxes and fees are ways for the government to spend more money without increasing inflation.

    The Mint essentially prints a certain number of extra physical symbols for collectors to buy. The government makes a profit off of the transaction, but unless I’m mistaken, any impact of this on the actual value of money still in (physical and non-physical) circulation is lost in the noise of the system.

    (If I remember correctly, only about 10% of US dollars have physical form. I don’t know what percentage of that 10% is in collections, but I suspect it’s negligible. “Expanding the money supply” is much more about bookkeeping than actually printing more of the physical symbols.)

    ObIANAnEconomist.

  19. I had no idea. When they first started coming out, it was interesting, but since I thought they were done,I haven’t really been looking closely. I haven’t card about collecting coins since Jr. High.

  20. I was shocked on my last visit to Canada to find quarters with colored patterns. I put one under a microscope and it’s some kind of tough white (ceramic?) coating with colored film on top. They’re cool, and we should do that!

  21. They are called “America the Beautiful” and are coming out 5 a year with parks or natural beauty on the obverse. Its a gimmick I suppose but its nice for collectors

    I don’t know why they didn’t make a bigger deal out of it but it was sort of stealth issued.

  22. Looked at the 2 quarters in my pocket. Very disappointed that they are just plain old quarters. To whom do I complain?

  23. Since I usually use a credit card I rarely notice coins. I have a change-purse full of them in my pocket, because I generally pay cash at the Farmers’ Market and wind up with change, but I don’t tend to use them for anything except on the rare occasion that I use a parking meter for a short stop at a shop. I try to decline pennies; I have jars full of them at home that don’t even make decent bookends.

  24. If I can figure out how to purchase rolls of just one type, I’ll pay all my debts, public and private, with Perry’s Victory quarters.

  25. Hey, I seem to actually have one of those Ohio quarters in my pocket!
    I stopped collecting coins as a young teenager – collecting wasn’t really that interesting, books were better, and since the US had stopped issuing silver coins a few years earlier, they were becoming hard to find.

    However, I’d been looking forward to the Richard Nixon Dollar Coin when it came out (I think it was scheduled for 2016?) , and it looks like they’ll only be printing a few for collectors, not actually circulating the things. I knew That Crook would find a way to weasel out of it, even though he’s dead.

  26. I, ah, wasn’t aware that they had finished with the 50 states run.

    Cash never *stays* in my pockets – the bills get spent and the change goes in the piggy bank.

    @ Ronny – I’m for dumping the penny as a form of currency but apparently the zinc lobby is just too dang powerful.

    And I thought it was a Lincoln thing. Huh.

  27. I noticed that they moved on from the State Quarters to the Tourist Attraction quarters mostly because I collect coins and I notice such things (and I pay attention when I get change, which really freaks out cashiers who think you’re checking up on them).

    Some of them are nice and some – like the South Dakota “Love Song to Jefferson’s Nose” – are just ridiculous. But none are as absurd as the Presidential Dollars, which were just glorified arcade tokens. I hope they go back to the Sacajawea dollars – those were nice coins.

  28. Am aware of ‘em and was aware that they were going to be, but I’m a person who used to check whether my change contained a 1982 dime.
    PS: 1982 dimes are, so far as someone who doesn’t keep track could tell, far rarer than even a wheat penny, pocket change wise.

  29. I’d put aside Great Basin (Nevada) and Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee) when I noticed them while rolling up accumulated change (which I save for spending on trips). The scene on Tennessee’s is especially nice, lovely feeling of depth from the fence in the foreground to the mountains in back.

    When I saw the headline on the post I thought you were going to ask for people’s thoughts on ditching the penny, or pushing for a dollar coin that people actually would use. I think our coins and bills could use a major rehaul — make the shapes and sizes of the coins unmistakably different from one another (yes, yes, vending machine refits required and all that), and put some pep into those bills! Our money is so damned dull.

  30. I have a suggestion for the design of Texas’ quarter: the execution room in Huntsville, TX with the inscription, “Texas: Death Row Capital of the Western World” – with a tiny, little bluebonnet (the Texas state flower) at the bottom of the coin.

  31. Well, they aren’t technically state quarters, they are “America the Beautiful Quarters,” and they are mostly national parks. There are 56 of them, releasing 5 per year from 2010 to 2021, with only the Alabama (Tuskeegee Airmen Nat’l Historical Site) quarter in 2021.

    They include DC and the territories, and range from Mt. Rushmore to El Yunque to the Hawai’i Volcanoes Nat’l Park. They are released in the order that the nat’l parks/sites were created.

    In 2014, they are releasing Tennesee, Virginia,Utah, Colorado, and Florida’s nationonal park quarters.

    They are really cool though. I have 8 of them so far!

  32. @historydave –

    I LOVE the Sacagawea dollars! I like them lots, and I had actually heard that part of the problem is that people liked them so much they would not spend them, so the coins kept falling out of circulation.

  33. Hey Anne, if you got a 10p from Australia in your change, it was a decent age given that we moved to dollars and cents in 1966 – I’d hang onto it!!

    I got a shilling (10p) coin from New Zealand in my change a couple of years ago. Quite chuffed, and still have it on my mantelpiece. A Fijian dollar as well, but that’s less cool than genuine pre-decimal currency.

  34. I haven’t seen them or heard about them previously. When I’m home in the US, I just take all my coins and dump them in a big jar as soon as I get home.

    I used to have a obsolete, italian 1000 lira note that I carried around in my wallet for bar bets. (worth well less than a dollar, if still legal tender)

    I think I gave it to a street musician after a night of drinking.

  35. Jonathan Vos Post: The coins you list aren’t “obsolete” (even though those denominations aren’t minted any longer); you could still spend them, although many on the list are worth a lot more than face value. Obsolete is a word I’d reserve for recalled issues with no monetary value today, like the Israeli lira (pound) or pre-decimal English coins such as the shilling.

    Present-day U.S. coins are boring to me and always will be, no matter how the Mint fiddles with the design, because I remember when really old coins still circulated. As a kid in the 1960s I would find Indian head pennies and (usually dateless) Buffalo nickels in pocket change. Moreover, my 35 cents for elementary school cafeteria lunch consisted of a (90%) silver quarter and dime. (Silver actually sounded better jingling in one’s hand; get a few pre-1965 dimes and/or quarters and the equivalent number of their copper-nickel successors, and see for yourself.) As late as the mid-1970s I received two walking-Liberty (1916-47) half dollars in change at a Massachusetts gas station.

  36. Having a hundred different back designs is going to make things really tough for coin magicians.

  37. Wow. They still make physical money? I haven’t used it in so long, I thought it’d been discontinued… ;)

  38. Yeah, my third grade classes have collected the state quarter series for years, and just this past year I bought one of the big “folders” for the national park series so we could start on those as well–there weren’t really enough of them before then to make it worth it. Steal a quarter from your parents that our collection doesn’t already have, and earn yourself two Jolly Ranchers. Hard to beat that deal, eh? Kind of cool to see how some of the kids get fascinated by them–during “free time” there will always be a handful of students in the back of the room starting at the different designs and where they are in relation to one another. Since we always do a short discussion on each new one that we get (state quarter and national park ones), it gives us a bit of history and geography at the same time for a relatively painless time investment…….

  39. yeah, I knew. They went with state parks and such-like. They’re fun!

    (I did used to be numismatically inclined a long time ago, before I discovered Magic cards)

  40. I was vaguely aware of them since I handle change every day and have to pay some attention to it to make sure the customer hasn’t tried to sneak old laundry tokens or something into the mix. I have a fairly nice little collection of oddities that have shiwed up over the years (I didn’t even know Jersey, the island not the state, still minted their own coins)

  41. If you think the commemorative quarter is interesting there’s a great Planet Money episode called “the 1B that nobody wants” about the dollar coins… and how they’re all just piled up in a lump. It touches on the question of the penny and the issue of “do you even plastic, bro?” other people mention above.

  42. Our indie pizza place started taking credit cards last year and that was the last place we’d used cash for over a decade. So that would be no.

    I just wish we’d eliminate the penny and move to a dollar coin. If people insist on cash, we should at least do it as cheaply as possible.

  43. I had a vague idea starting a few months ago, when I first saw one of the Perry’s Victory quarters and wondered what state it was. I knew the State quarters thing finished a few years ago with Hawaii, so I was surprised to see the PV quarter dated 2013.

  44. @keranih – I did my best! When my wife and I had our own small business on the craft show circuit I’d always stock up on dollar coins to give out as change. Most people thought they were kind of cool, though there were always a few who wouldn’t take them at all.

    I think the real problem with the dollar coins is that nobody in the US will use them until they pull the dollar bill from circulation and give people no choice. From a fiscal standpoint that’s a no-brainer, but somehow I don’t think I’ll ever live to see it happen.

  45. I say that if the Mint wants people to use dollar coins (and if they won’t get rid of the bill), then they should set up changing stations outside applicable locations such as Renaissance Faires and Harry Potter World (Gringotts!) and have people change over to “gold coins.” The kids would LOVE it, you wouldn’t have to change any back at the end of the day (because they are legal tender), and the geeks might actually make a bump in the usage.

  46. @keranih And I thought it was a Lincoln thing. Huh.

    I’m not sure that’s ever been a strong argument. He’s on the $5 bill so losing the penny shouldn’t diminish Lincoln’s stature.

  47. Never noticed at all. I hardly use quarters anymore. Even on those rare occasions when I go to the laundromat, it’s a card system.

    I note that the quarter you selected to head this post says “Perry’s Victory.” Coincidence, or OMW reference? I have my suspicions!

    (And now, reading down, I see that Not that Frank beat me to it. Drat.)

    Mark: A very good idea. Only trouble is, Texas is going blue soon! (This is more a wish than a prediction, but you can see how the quarters would be obsolete if that happened.)

    Josh Jasper, I thought that was a happy little song until I went and looked at a translation from the Romanian. The iconic line means “you want to go but you don’t want me to go with you,” and the repeating “numa numa” part is “you don’t, you don’t, you don’t want me.”

  48. I enjoy seeing the new quarters, which are so much more interesting than the old ones before they began the State, Territory, and America the Beautiful quarters. I think it’s fun to see a new design pop up every now and then.

    If anything, the new quarters are actually cheaper for the government to make, because sales to collectors have increased profits, therefore offsetting the production of the coins. The production of the dies costs no more than it did for the old design.

    Someone once explained to me that paper money is printed based on money the government has borrowed. Coins can only be minted based on cash the government actually has in its accounts. So, when you are using paper money, you are only pushing debt around; when you use coins, you are using actual money.

    Coins also last significantly longer than paper money, which makes them cheaper in the long run.

    Americans generally don’t like using coins, claiming coins are inconvenient to carry large sums of cash. There is merit to that argument. I can carry a thousand dollars in my wallet with just ten $100 bills without much fuss. Imagine trying to carry $1,000 in $1 coins, which is our highest coin currency in circulation. Where America stops at 1, other countries have coins in values of 5, 10, and 20 making it easier to carry large values in coins. It is easier for a coin than paper money to fall out of your pocket while sitting down. To this day, my father still uses a squeezable rubber coin purse to carry loose change.

    I keep a number of dollar coins on me when riding a motorcycle in case of emergency, as they are far more durable than paper money or plastic cards should something go horribly wrong.

    Trivia Note: you can make an actual Bitcoin coin by etching the QR code for the public and private keys on the faces of a blank coin. In light of how bitcoins work, you could potentially have in your pocket a single coin that has a value greater than $1,000,000.

  49. There are some public transit system ticket-vending machines that give dollar coins in change – that’s how most of the ones I’ve had got into my hands

    BTW, you have heard about the plot to replace President Washington portrait on the dollar bill with that of President Clinton ?

    Just look at all the vending machines that already say “Insert Bill Here”.

  50. Numismatic… Now there’s a word to whip out at a dinner party!

    I, for one, had no idea about this change in quarters! Now that’s the sort of thing I should be talking about on my blog! I always check up on your posts for pointers on how to create good content. In fact, I would really appreciate some feedback and advice from someone who has already been so successful in “the business!”

    My blog is at http://www.pinksparklynotebook.com (the name is meant to be both ironic and easy to remember), and I would appreciate if you could contact me at averyhanaden@gmail.com!

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