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Can it happen again?

It has been many years since a coin struck for circulation has become scarce. The 1950-D nickel was not struck for collectors only. The 1955-S cent was not coined to sell on a Mint Web site. Mintage totals were based on what the economy was demanding.

With the mintages of the first two of the six District of Columbia and Territorial quarters now known, we have the tantalizing number of 53,000,000 Puerto Rico quarters struck in Philadelphia.

That is the lowest total since 1962. So there is some basis for me to feel like a kid again. The 1962 quarter was not impossible to find in change. There were enough, but I seemed to see many more 1962-D quarters than the mintage ratio would have indicated, but then I lived in the part of the country where the coins came from Denver.

The 1958 quarter from Philadelphia was hard to find. Its mintage, though, was 7,235,652. That, too, was not rare, but I looked long and hard for it in my change and I was jubilant when the elderly man on my paper route who attempted to teach me to count to 10 in Welsh paid his bill with coins that included the 1958.

Is such a low mintage possible today? If the banking system continues to back up with old coins, can the next four quarters in the 2009 sequence continue their mintage declines?

If the Philadelphia production declines at the same rate through the six-design quarter run, we would be close to the 7 million figure.

It would be interesting to see how collectors would react to it.