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Will you be a buyer?

When the clad “S” mintmarked El Yunque America the Beautiful quarter goes on sale at noon Eastern Time today, will you be one of the buyers?

Or are you too cool for clad?

With the wild fluctuations that have occurred in the gold and silver markets in the past 11 years, it can be hard to take clad U.S. coins seriously.

We have been trained by headlines that gold and silver are what’s important. Copper-nickel clad doesn’t make the cut.

In this prevailing attitude there is a curious echo of 1965. Back then we were too cool for clad as well. It was the poor substitute for the silver coins that we were  being robbed of.

Perhaps if the clad coins of that time had had mintmarks on them it might have been different. But the object of the time was make coins as unattractive as possible to collectors so we wouldn’t keep any.

The government believed collectors keeping coins contributed to the coin shortage that gripped the country.

So here we are almost a half century later being treated to an “S” mintmark on a circulating quarter. This is something that hasn’t occurred since the 1954-S was produced the year before the western mint was closed in 1955.

The coin shortage caused the government to reopen San Francisco and we could have had “S” quarters in 1965 had we been allowed.

We did get “S” cents and nickels starting in 1968.

All of this history floods through my mind as I consider buying the new “S” quarter.

Will I buy a bag of 100 coins for $34.95, or a 40-coin roll for $18.95 plus the $4.95 handling charge?

I am leaning toward the roll. I don’t think I need a bag. I will even get a break on the $4.95 charge because my order will be pooled with others here in the office.

I am looking forward to the “S” quarter. It might not make me rich, but it does make me rich with memories.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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