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Back to 1965?
August 05, 2011

I am somewhat late posting today. I wish I could write that I was hypnotized by the volatile financial market action this morning and have just now snapped out of it.

But that wouldn’t be true.

I had one of those personal appointments that no one looks forward to but nevertheless is necessary. That kept me out of the office all morning.

However, when I was actually permitted to think about coins, my mind riveted on an ad in a national newspaper where the advertiser is offering to sell coins.

This time it isn’t American Eagle bullion coins or Morgan silver dollars, but silver America the Beautiful quarters in proof that are being promoted as a great way to own silver and “smaller silver coins for use in barter or that offer more flexibility for the consumer than 1 ounce coins.”

Most collectors know that state quarters were followed by Territorial quarters and then the America the Beautiful series. So far we have had 13 years’ of different designs.

The novelty has worn off. Collector enthusiasm is down. Sets from prior years have basically fallen to bullion value in many cases.

Why not a national promotion of the proof silver quarters as a play on silver bullion?

I am sure collectors who already own the silver quarter sets will be cheering on any effort to increase demand for them. Any additional demand will help underpin the value of their collections.

I don’t expect anybody to really be using these coins as pieces of silver traded for a loaf of bread, etc.

One of the complicating factors in that scenario is that the same designs are also available in copper-nickel. Anybody who is not a collector will likely have to be trained to tell the difference between the copper-nickel version and the 90 percent silver version. This would not be welcome news in catastrophic financial conditions.

In a way, using these quarters that way would transport us all back to late 1965 and early 1966 when we were looking at the reddish edges to tell the difference between copper-nickel and silver coins.

Would that happen again?

I can’t say it won’t, but who would have thought that tellers of end-of-the-world financial stories would bring me right back to some nostalgia for 1965?

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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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