Skip to main content

Is something afoul? Or, the mystery collector

By Dr. R.S. “Bart” Bartanowicz

MysteryCollector rolls

It was time for a numismatic diversion. Our numismatist decided to work on his 2010-2021 America the Beautiful set.

His modus operandi was to pick up a roll of quarters from the bank and see what there was that he could use in his collection. It didn’t cost him anything as he would spend what he didn’t need.

He liked this as it took him back to the good old days of the 1950s when he routinely found Buffalo nickels and Mercury dimes in circulation. While the ATB coins were not scarce, it was still fun looking for them.

He walked into his favorite bank and chatted with the teller before asking for a roll of quarters. The teller informed him that she had two rolls that someone had brought in as well as other rolls that they just received through the bank system.

“I know you go through the quarters looking for old and new coins,” she said. “I thought I would let you know what we have.”

This was an interesting choice. Hand-rolled coins brought in by a customer could mean some old silver coins. Conversely, freshly wrapped quarters might contain some of the newly issued 2017 quarters of which he had only found the Iowa issue.

“I’ll take the two rolls that were just brought in.” With that the teller produced the coins and he promptly paid her, saying, “This might be the day I hit the jackpot.”

The teller nodded and smiled.

At home and sitting in his comfy chair, he opened both rolls and was taken aback by the contents. Perhaps these would be rolls of Standing Liberty quarters (1916-1932), which would also contain the rare 1916.

Realistically he hoped to find a silver quarter or two. It was not to be.

Instead the first roll contained neatly sorted clad quarters by year of issue. Obviously someone had been going rolls of quarters looking for silver or newly issued quarters for their collections. The second roll had also been neatly sorted.

This didn’t require any detective work. The coins had obviously been sorted out by another collector who when done taking what he/she needed put them in the coin roll in an orderly manner.

Our numismatist wondered who the mystery collector might be. He knew all the local collectors including those who lived close by and might be patrons of the same bank. He quickly ruled it out being someone he knew.

He couldn’t ask the teller who the depositor was and it would only put her on the spot as she wasn’t allowed to divulge customer information. Our numismatist knew this would drive him crazy. It was in his nature to seek out other collectors.

He decided to share the news at the next coin club meeting. Someone might even know who the mystery collector was.

At the local coin club he was greeted with a few snickers. One club member said in fun, “You just love mysteries. Before we go any further, did you find anything in the rolls that you could use?”

Our numismatist shook his head no.

“I didn’t find a thing. I did bring the quarters in. If anyone wants one, the price is 25 cents per quarter. Some of the quarters are mint state. There are quite a few 2017 Iowa issues.”

The conversation then revolved around all the people who are collecting coins from circulation. Our numismatist reminded club members of a survey some years ago when the new state quarters were issued. When asked at the time, most said they were collecting the quarters, that is, as a new design was issued they were putting some aside because they were new and interesting.

With that in mind, the club consensus was that the mystery collector could be anyone from a youngster to an adult who might be filling up their coin boards like many collectors did when they started out.

Our numismatist smiled.

“I do have a question. Did one of you drop off the rolls at my bank to mess with me? Some of you are downright brutal when it comes to tormenting me.”

This immediately brought good natured groans and laughs from the club members. One of the club members quickly asked, “What bank do you go to?” Followed by a good natured wink and a nod to our numismatist.

The above story is nothing new. Folks bring in rolls of coins to banks (vs. cashing them in using a store coin machine) all the time. A lot of times they have been house cleaning and decide to empty the coin jar where they have been putting their spare change in.

Folks like myself are always on the lookout for these rolls with the idea they might contain treasures. And, of course, as in our story, folks are also looking for coins to fill up their coin boards.

Those of us who are into the hobby may never meet these occasional collectors. I, for one, am happy for these folks. After all, what is there not to like about the practice of collecting coins from pocket change?

This article was originally printed in Coins Magazine. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Liked this article? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.

• Purchase your copy of The Essential Guide to Investing in Precious Metals today to get started on making all the right investing decisions.