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In the bag for collectors

If you have never ordered a bag of new quarters from the U.S. Mint, you should try it at least once.

There is something about getting a quantity of new coins from the Mint that has always appealed to me.

That is the emotional right side of my brain reacting.

The left side of my brain tries to justify the action more logically.

Today collectors will be able to order Harpers Ferry National Historical Park quarters. A 100-coin bag is $34.95 each. Face value is $25. There is a $4.95 handling charge, but the larger the order, the less impact it has on overall cost.

Rolls come from the three mints with “P,” “D” and “S” mintmarks. You can also buy two-roll “P” and “D” sets or three-roll, “P,” “D” and “S,” sets, or just a 40-coin roll of “S” coins.

The two-roll set is $32.95. The three roll set is $46.95 and the single roll of 40-coins for San Francisco is $18.95.

What is the logical justification for buying the Harpers Ferry quarters today?

The first is to search the coins for errors. Sometimes new issues can prove to be rewarding in this regard as was the case with the Homestead National Monument of America quarters last year. Some of the Homestead coins were doubled dies and quantities bought from the Mint contained them.

A second reason to buy a 100-coin bag is to study the quality of striking and look for one example in top grade. If you have a good eye for quality and the patience to search, you can do yourself a favor.

The third reason might be to enjoy seeing the “S” mintmark again on large numbers of coins. This mintmark is still magic for collectors of my generation. It is why if you look at sales figures in "Mint Statistics" in Numismatic News every week, you will find that the “S” bags tend to outsell the “P” and “D” bags by 2:1.

True this is an emotional response, but logic can recommend doing something that provides such pleasure.

A fourth reason is the theme might be particularly appealing to you. This assumes you are not collecting the whole America the Beautiful quarter set, but just the ones that have designs and/or themes that appeal to you.

The fifth reason is the hoarder reason. Don’t you just love to run your hands through large quantities of coins? This, of course, can be done only after you have checked for doubled-dies or other errors and top grades.

Or, you can ignore this impulse and put the whole bag aside. You never know, in 10 years collectors might be paying a premium for original bags.

But if you want to indulge your inner hoarder, you are basically giving up 15 cents’ worth of value per coin, or $14.90 for the whole bag.

Collectors need to physically keep in touch with real coins. Too much plastic can make Jack a dull boy when it comes to keeping his grading skills sharp.

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

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