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What Should Be Chased?
August 02, 2011

I was editing a story yesterday about Seated Liberty quarters. The series was produced by the U.S. Mint from 1838 to 1891.

I found myself wondering what might be the better investment, a 2010 America the Beautiful silver 5-ounce uncirculated collector coin bought directly from the Mint for $279.95, or an MS-60 Seated Liberty quarter, which features many dates priced in that grade in the $250-$500 range.

While the collector 5-ounce coin has a mintage of 27,000 with many of them being graded MS-69 or MS-70, the quarters usually have higher mintages, but since they are products of the 19th century where most were circulated and eventually melted when worn out, the surviving Seated quarters in the MS-60 grade number in the dozens to a few hundred.

The advantage of the ATB series is it is in all the headlines. Everybody seems to want them.

But will this be true in 25 years?

The disadvantage of the quarter is it is not in the headlines and it is such an old series that few collected it even during the circulation finds era of 50 years ago. That means there is no emotional attachment in the current collector population as is the case for coins like Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes and Standing Liberty quarters.

In 25 years, the Seated series might still be the backwater it is today with a few specialists paying incredibly high prices at the very top end grade-wise, while the lower end is ignored by most collectors.

Every collector makes the decision to chase current issues. The question today is would it be better to chase something else?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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