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Wild about the “S”

I had an email from a Numismatic News reader telling me that he had found an “S” mint Denali quarter of 2012 in circulation.

The writer was not explicit, but I assume this not the proof, that it is indeed a circulation strike.

I am surprised I am not getting more of these notifications as the Mint continues to sell bag and roll quantities of circulation strike “S” mint quarters to collectors.

After three years, some of these “S” quarters surely have found their way into circulation when a collector who bought them needed money, or simply decided that some of the coins in the roll or bag did not have a quality worth keeping.

This email is proof of the concept that some of these circulation-strike “S” mint quarters will find their way into change.

However, the process is either a very slow one, or there are not many collectors who are even bothering to look at the mintmarks on the quarters they are receiving in daily life.

It does take a while to change behavior.

Even with three years of possible slips into change, that doesn’t add up to many coins.

Someday, though, the thrill of finding an “S” quarter in change might become more commonplace.

When I was filling my Whitman albums even finding a common “S” mint coin in change was always just a little bit more thrilling than a “P” or “D” mint.

Since 1968 we collectors have been conditioned to think of “S” mint coins as being proof only. This was due to the Mint moving proof production to the West Coast from the mother mint in Philadelphia.

However, the last gasp of “S” mint change occurred for the cent 1968 to 1974, and with nickels from 1968 to 1970.

The mintmark was revived for circulation due to the coin shortage of the mid-1960s. The Mint was using every bit of capacity it had.

The irony of the end of “S” mint cent production was that the Mint was concerned that collectors were pulling too many “S” mint coins from change so there was no viable addition to the coin supply by making them.

What the coin shortage gave us, the cent shortage of 1974 took away.

The “S” mint circulation-strike quarters of 2012 on are not intended to actually circulate – but we know some will.

I hope other collectors will take up the challenge and see if they can find a circulation-strike “S” mint quarter in their change.

If you happen to be such a collector and you find one of those elusive “S” mint quarters, let me know.

Final note: Yesterday afternoon the Mint revised its total for 5-ounce bullion coins sold in 2015. It was a slight increase. The number of ounces sold now stands at 1,063,000, pushing the overall sales gain from the prior year to 59.25 percent. The small revision  does not alter the conclusions of yesterday’s blog.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins

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3 Responses to Wild about the “S”

  1. majacra says:

    I am always on the hunt for “S” change. I have yet to find one from the National Park Quarter series. Some commenters from Mint News Blog back in 2012 talked about how they would cherry pick some of the S rolls and release the lower mint state coins into circulation. I keep hoping I find one of them.

  2. Hope ever one enjoyed new years. Been watching prices of American coins and tokens. I collect amongst American coins,but also concerned tokens. The history,art work are beyond reach for coins made in the latest part of the 18th century. Prices have risen over 1700 percent in the last eight years. How ever if I want to buy a book on this art it’s almost impossible to find. If your lucky to find one get out tour gold card. I know we won the revolutionary war but were loosing the war on these tokens. I see American coins from the same period and they don’t come close to the beauty. The reason they grade high is because people collected them instead of using them. I say to collectors take a look you just might be impressed. Just my opinion.Mike

  3. Vachon says:

    I’ve gotten one business strike S-mint ATB quarter so far. It was a Fort McHenry one (2013). It stood out from the other quarters in the roll, not because it bore an S mintmark, but because it had a finish that reminded me of the 1965-1967 special mint sets.

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