Vic Mason of Mamaroneck, NY submitted these thoughts on the benefits to numismatics of the new 2019-W quarters. Thanks! -Editor
I just sent a letter to Bill Gibbs at Coin World providing interesting numbers for the estimated distribution of the "W"
quarters of the United States Mint's circulating rarities program. I could do that only thanks to the heightened vigilance of the staff at my local
branch bank of JP Morgan Chase. They saved some of the new Guam "W" quarters for me, in gratitude. I think I've turned them into dedicated coin
The ideas I would like to share with E-Sylum readers about this experience are several. First, since early April, when the Mint
surprised us by announcing this new program of circulating rarities, I have alerted numerous friends, relatives, neighbors, commercial acquaintances,
and others to the Mint's "W" quarters program, to boost interest in coin collecting. One immediate effect has been that a great many "generalist"
members of the public, friends and their friends, have come to me with stories about their collections of coins, especially those inherited from
relatives. They ask me to look them over, to see whether they have anything of value. I always tell them, before seeing their coins, that numismatic
ethics requires me to say I am not buying anything from them, only informing them of what they have. They appreciate that. I add that if they do have
anything significant, I will direct them (or accompany them) to the famous Stack's-Bowers coin shop on West 57th Street, near Carnegie Hall, in
Manhattan, a store few have ever heard of.
One lady had a beautiful Mint State "golden" 2000-P Maryland State quarter which at first got me very excited, because I didn't know what I was
looking at. But when I emailed Andrew Bowers at Stack's-Bowers about this find, he said it had probably been plated to fool a buyer. "We see those
plated coins now and then," he told me. I then told the lady about the most famous case of such trickery in American coinage in 1883, when new
nickels were plated in gold to be passed off as $5 gold coins, until the design was changed later that year to add the word "CENTS" at the bottom of
the reverse. So the experience turns into a numismatic history lesson as well!
Second, it has been enjoyable finding a couple of three-figure coins in those hunts, both silver dollars. One was an 1892-S Morgan dollar which a
friend's mother had had in a simple silver necklace holder for decades. When my friend and I went to Stack's-Bowers a few years ago, Andrew Bowers
declared the coin genuine and said it was in extremely fine condition. When I sent it to Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) for grading and
encapsulation, it came back XF 40. Andrew had explained to my friend what his store's pricing policy was on buying and selling coins. Since my friend
needed the money, she was then grateful when I paid her well over the wholesale price that a dealer would give her.
Third, virtually every ordinary collection of coins I've seen – most of them just bagged or boxed loosely in a jumble – has had a lot of old
common silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars. Most of the owners I speak with have little or no awareness of the difference between face values
stamped on the old silver coins (all pre-1965 silver coins and the pre-1971 silver-clad halves) and the current spot-market value of silver bullion.
So they are pleased to learn that they often have hundreds of dollars worth of silver they were unaware of – coins they can quickly turn into cash,
if they choose. Fourth, I am always on the alert for rare varieties highlighted in the Cherrypickers' Guide by Bill Fivas and J.T.
Fifth, I have lately been urging owners of the common pre-1965 coins not to turn them in as bullion but rather to keep them and to put them in
books for collections of uncertified coins. For example, one neighbor recently showed me his father's collection mostly of common-date and well-worn
Indian head cents, Lincoln wheat cents, old Canadian large and small cents, old Buffalo and Jefferson nickels, Barber and Mercury dimes, Franklin and
Kennedy halves, Morgan dollars, and Peace dollars. I told him (and his mother) that they had several hundred dollars worth of silver. But in memory
of his father, I suggested he get the "blue books" (or whatever is sold these days) for uncertified coins "and enjoy the collection," in his dad's
memory. That is what he and his mother did.
The biggest excitement we got from going through that collection was to find the No. 1 key date of the Peace dollars series (aside from the
uncollectible 1922 High Relief dollar): the 1928 coin minted in Philadelphia, with a population of only 360,649. His coin was in extremely fine
condition, and I showed them that in XF 40 it was listed at $320 in the 2020 edition of The Red Book. I advised him that since current PCGS
CoinFacts tables of recent auction results indicate he was unlikely to get the sums suggested by current pricing tables, he just keep that and all
the other Peace dollars he has in a book for uncertified coins. He agreed and went out to buy the books to hold all the coins in a more organized
fashion – and to enjoy the collection for the first time.
Great stories! Thanks for sharing. We all have opportunities to reach out to the non-collecting public in various venues, but as Vic noted,
programs like the 2019-W quarter provide new openings for discussion. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
ON THE MINT'S MANUFACTURED RARITIES
MORE ON THE MINT'S MANUFACTURED RARITIES
ACTOR PYFROM FINDS VALUABLE 2019-W QUARTER
LOOSE CHANGE: APRIL 28, 2019 : Golino on the 2019-W Quarters
2019 WEST POINT QUARTERS COMING TO THE RED BOOK
Wayne Homren, Editor
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