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Set without a future

I had a conversation with colleague George Cuhaj yesterday.

He mentioned that he had been approached by a former Krause Publications co-worker on bowling night.

The co-worker is retired.

Her question to George was what should she do with her set of state quarters?

She had faithfully assembled her set over the 10-year duration one or two uncirculated clad coins at a time.

It is an example of the good old-fashioned style of collecting that many of us liked to see as an echo of the circulation finds era that ended in the 1960s when silver disappeared from coinage.

She filled holes in her album as she was supposed to and as many of us remember doing as kids.

But now what? What should she do with it? Does the set have any value?

There is the conundrum.

The set is basically worth face value because it is so common. Some dates exist by the billions.

It seems impolite to come right out and say the set is worth face value, though that is the truth.

Telling her to pass the set on to a relative who might appreciate it is one option, I suppose.

Another would be simply to keep it as a souvenir for many years with an implication that somehow value might increase. Noncollectors often jump to that conclusion. After all, why else would you hold it?

For collectors, coins are ends in themselves. My set of Lincoln cents, 1941 to date, that I put together as a kid has no value. The last coin in it is dated 1967.

If someone told me it was a waste of time to have assembled the set, it would not offend me.

But I would contradict the statement. I made no money assembling the set, but as an educational tool it was immensely valuable. It represents the first steps I took down a rewarding numismatic path.

For state quarter collectors who did not catch the collecting bug in the process of assembling their sets, the value outlook is bleak, because it simply boils down to what the coins are worth.

These sets have become dead ends if there is no one to appreciate them.

That is sad, but it is a part of life.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."