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Free quarters for new collectors

 Reverse of the 2018 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore quarter.

Reverse of the 2018 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore quarter.

To maintain a healthy hobby, numismatics needs to encourage new collectors to replace those who die or simply stop pursuing this pastime.

Here’s a successful practice of my company that is one way coin dealers with brick-and-mortar stores or local coin clubs can foster more collectors – give away America the Beautiful quarters when your state’s issue is released.

On Feb. 5, the U.S. Mint will begin shipping the 2018 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Quarters to the Federal Reserve. The Mint’s Public Release Ceremony (details at will take place in Munising, Mich., on Feb. 7. These events will definitely get news coverage in the state where my coin shop is located.

With the cooperation of the Peoples State Bank in Munising, my company will obtain a quantity of these quarters on Feb. 7 to enable us to commence a “Cans For Quarters” Food-Raiser for the local Greater Lansing Food Bank. For this program, our coin shop will give away a free Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore quarter (limit of four per person) for each non-perishable food donation they bring into our store. Or people dropping off a cash donation of $25 or more will receive a free roll of these coins.

My company has done Cans For Quarters Food-Raisers three times before – when the state quarter series debuted in 1999, when the Michigan state quarter came out in 2004 and at the beginning of the America the Beautiful quarter series in 2010. Each of these times, donors brought in multiple tons of food donations and thousands in cash contributions.

In our past experiences, we welcomed hundreds of visitors, young and old, who had never before been to our store. Some took the occasion of bringing in a donation to sell or purchase merchandise with us. Others picked up copies of our “Cash In Your Treasures” brochure (posted on our website at and later came back to offer items they then realized we might purchase.

Conducting such events raises the stature of the company for supporting the community. We also use the event to work with schools. Any local school that conducts a food drive will get a visit by our staff to not only pick up the donations but to give presentations on numismatics as we hand out their free quarters.

This time around, we will start the campaign on Saturday, Feb. 10, and continue it through Saturday, March 31. We have arranged for the weekday morning host from one of the most popular local radio stations to do a remote broadcast that morning. We have also invited a small group of numismatic or civic leaders to be on hand to engage in the ceremonial “first donations” to get the Cans For Quarters Food-Raiser started. The emphasis all around, for donors and staff, is to have fun and celebrate the latest coin honoring Michigan.

Such an event obviously has a cost, both in the thousands of dollars of coins given away and in staff time to prepare for and conduct the Food-Raiser. However, the value of the positive response from the public, along with the slight increase in the number of future coin collectors, makes it all well worth it.

If you work at a coin shop or are a member of a coin club in a state still waiting for the issue of an America the Beautiful quarter, consider this or another activity to spark new collectors.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2017 Exemplary Service and 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He was also honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild in 2017 and 2016 for the Best Dealer-Published Magazine/Newspaper and for Best Radio Report. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2018 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2018 North American Coins & Prices guide.