December 3rd, 2009


Ringle, jingle, coins when they mingle make such a lovely sound

Finally got around to hitting the coin shop. I picked up the 2009 Presidential $1 proof set and the 2009 Territorial Quarters proof set. I wanted to get the Lincoln Bicentennial Penny set, but it's not available yet.

Not much to say about the Presidential Dollars. This year's set features William Henry Harrison ("I died in 30 days!"), John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor. This is the third set out of 10 that will be released.

I haven't seen any of the Territorial Quarters in circulation so far. The District of Columbia coin is rather disappointing. Of all the great buildings and monuments there, they chose Duke Ellington for their coin? Because there will be fewer of the Territorial Quarters than any of the State Quarters (there were 6 issues this year versus 5 for each of the previous 10 years), these coins will likely become more valuable than the others.

I have a bit of a problem of where to store this set. The US Mint sells a box specifically designed for the State Quarters and the Presidential Dollars proof sets; it accomodates 10 sets each. The Territorial Quarters set ends up being the odd one out.

The next set of coins the Mint will be releasing will be the America the Beautiful Quarters series, 56 coins released in 11 or 12 sets. There will be one coin for each state or territory, depicting a national park, forest, shore, monument or historic site. The coins will be released in the order that the sites were established. The first set, coming out in 2010, will feature Hot Springs National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Mt. Hood National Forest. Unlike the State/Territorial Quarters, the various US territories won't be dead last, in fact, El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico will be the 11th coin produced, while the last one currently scheduled will be the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama.

If you're going to collect coins, proof sets are really the way to go. They cost a lot more than just grabbing some coins from the bank ($15 per set direct from the Mint, $30 if you want the coins in silver), but because they're minted in very small quantities, they'll be worth more in the long run (The 1999 proof quarters set is worth around $65 now, $400 for silver). The proof coins are made from specially polished blanks and are double-stamped with specially prepared dies, creating a very crisp, highly detailed image. The difference between a circulation coin and a proof coin is like night and day. These aren't just coins, they're miniature works of art.

Don't be fooled by people advertising coins in "mint" condition or "brilliant uncirculated"; these are just ordinary production coins with no real intrinsic value other than the fact that they're shiny. They still will never look anything like a proof coin, nor will they ever be worth as much. Some of these companies sell uncirculated coins for almost as much as proof coins; rolls of uncirculated production coins can be purchased from the US Mint for face value. Also beware of companies calling themselves the National Mint, American Mint or some variation thereof. They are not afiliated with the US government. Only the United States Mint can produce legal tender US coins. For those readers in Canada, legal Canadian coinage is produced by the Royal Canadian Mint.
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