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New 'S' quarters outstanding

Yesterday was delivery day for the roll of 2012-S El Yunque quarters that I ordered from the U.S. Mint for $18.95.

I couldn’t wait to open the box.

Yes, that’s right, I wanted to open the box and not ship it off to a grading service to see how many of the coins might reach MS-70.

Once the box was opened and I saw the roll in the plastic tray, I noticed that the paper wrapping the roll has crimped ends so you can see the end coins on both sides.

Crimped end rolls were always a pain back when I was searching rolls for finds I thought as I flashed back to a 1960s memory. They still are a pain..

The market, of course, demands that coins come in original packaging when not in the plastic slabs from a third-party grading service, but storing these quarters in a paper roll for any length of time doesn’t strike me as the right way to preserve them.

I opened the roll, destroying the paper in the process, and poured the coins out on the kitchen table.

There were some nice coins in the roll and some not so nice, having light stains from whatever industrial chemicals the coins and the blanks came in contact with.

Therein is the Mint’s problem.

The good coins are fabulous. They are proof-like. I would almost hate to set one down next to one from a proof set and then try to explain the difference between a proof and an uncirculated coin to a beginner.

Why do I say that’s a problem?

Well, on the coins with stains or typical tiny light scratches or gouges, the proof-like mirror surface makes the defects stand out more than they would on regular uncirculated surfaces. That isn’t good. Collectors are getting progressively more picky and helping typical defects stand out will only provide something more to object to.

I would say one or two coins are MS-70 and another four or so would be MS-69. That’s not bad out of a roll of 40 coins.

There were 11 coins I will have no trouble spending. One obverse seems to have a proof-like surface that sort of ends before the coin itself does in the lower left. I will look at that a little more closely later.

The reverse design is gorgeous and is a credit to the Mint. The more I see of these wide-rimmed pieces of the America the Beautiful series close up, the more I like them. The detail is amazing.

Overall, I think I received my $8.95 worth of fun from my $18.95 expenditure on this roll (Face value of the roll is $10.). Now I look forward to seeing how the market for MS-69 and MS-70 coins develops.

By the way, the Chaco “S” quarters go on sale today. I will have to soon decide how long I want to pursue my renewed love affair with San Francisco’s mintmark on what is called circulation quality clad coinage.

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