Back in the days of the national coin shortage when the Coinage Act of 1965 was new, collectors said there was nothing in change worth keeping.
The charge basically was true.
From my experience, I can tell you that silver dimes and quarters virtually disappeared from circulation during the year 1968.
At the beginning of the year, there were still reasonable numbers of these silver coins in change.
No question they were a minority of what you encountered, but they were still around.
But 12 months later, they were entirely gone.
It was during 1968 that I began collecting Jefferson nickels.
There was no other option if I wanted to keep up my coin searching as the circulation finds era closed.
There were still war nickels in change in 1968.
These are the 35 percent silver pieces made 1942-1945 to save nickel and copper for use in World War II.
There still was the occasional Buffalo nickel.
These were almost always dateless.
The variety of pieces in change and in bank rolls was still wide enough to be interesting.
By 1969, even that was pretty well gone.
When I saw enough 1964 and 1964-D pieces, it made my eyes glaze over.
I went on to other things.
Recent finds of rare cents made of copper when they should have been mostly zinc prove that the circulation finds way of collecting has never completely gone away.
But for most collectors, it did.
Yet we hope it can continue to exist and grow.
We had hope when state quarters arrived.
Even my father bought an album and completed a set, unbeknownst to me until after he died.
But that wave is gone, and America the Beautiful coins have only a shadow of the interest that state quarters had.
Does this disprove the theory that a variety of dates in change encourages circulation finds?
We have had 52 years of issues since 1965.
I still get quarters dated 1965 in change, admittedly not often.
There are 95 design types made since the state program began in 1999.
If you add mintmarks, you can double the number of coins.
If you add proofs, you triple it.
That is a far larger variety of coins than I ever saw in the 1960s.
And this is just quarters.
We will probably never know the full impact of the new quarter designs until the classes of 1999-2008 take over the hobby completely.
They will eventually.
But we won’t know how many there are until they do.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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