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Give us more ‘S’ mintmarked coins

The 1955-S Lincoln cent, which the author found to be extremely elusive in circulation. (Image courtesy www.usacoinbook.com)

For many collectors, the “S” mintmark has huge appeal.

San Francisco produced many a rarity over the years. That fact alone made all coins with “S” mintmarks on them desirable.

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember that San Francisco had been closed as a working production facility in 1955.

The 1955-S cent and 1955-S dime were labeled the last coins struck there. Over time, that changed, but not before I had a huge problem finding a 1955-S cent for my 1941 to date Whitman cent album in the mid-1960s.

That album was supposed to be easy to fill. Even as I youngster, I knew that. But the 1955-S was devilishly hard to find in circulation.

My respect for the “S” mintmark grew with the experience. Eventually I did find a 1955-S cent. It completed my set. I was happy. But knowing that I had only ever found one of these in change has always been in my mind.

My experience was shared by other collectors my age. Then we grew up. We have undertaken other collecting challenges. But the appeal of the “S” mintmark learned a half century and more ago linger on in our minds.

That is the reason the U.S. Mint began striking “S” mintmarked America the Beautiful quarters with a circulation finish in 2012. These “S” coins are sold by the uncirculated roll and 100-coin bag directly to collectors, who eagerly snap them up.

Collectors still put a mental satisfaction premium on owning the “S” mintmarked quarters.

Each ATB design is offered in 100-coin bags and 40-coin rolls. The “S” quarter bags generally outsell the “P” or “D” bags 2-1. The edge is narrowed when collectors have the option of buying PDS and P&D roll sets.

Overall, the Mint usually sells more “S” quarters than “P” or “D” of the same ATB design. That’s a nice position to be in.

Why not extend the option to buy “S” coins to the other circulating denominations?

Circulation “S” cents ended with the 1974 issue. At that time, the Mint thought striking these contributed to cent hoarding. The circulating “S” nickel was last struck in 1970. The coin shortage was over. Supply from the West Coast was no longer needed. The 1955-S dime was the last San Francisco circulation strike.

Putting all three of these denominations back on the San Francisco presses would appeal to collectors, even if we can only buy them by the bag and roll.

 

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

 


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