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Can it Happen Again?
March 31, 2009

It has been many years since a coin struck for circulation has become scarce. The 1950-D nickel was not struck for collectors only. The 1955-S cent was not coined to sell on a Mint Web site. Mintage totals were based on what the economy was demanding.

With the mintages of the first two of the six District of Columbia and Territorial quarters now known, we have the tantalizing number of 53,000,000 Puerto Rico quarters struck in Philadelphia.

That is the lowest total since 1962. So there is some basis for me to feel like a kid again. The 1962 quarter was not impossible to find in change. There were enough, but I seemed to see many more 1962-D quarters than the mintage ratio would have indicated, but then I lived in the part of the country where the coins came from Denver.

The 1958 quarter from Philadelphia was hard to find. Its mintage, though, was 7,235,652. That, too, was not rare, but I looked long and hard for it in my change and I was jubilant when the elderly man on my paper route who attempted to teach me to count to 10 in Welsh paid his bill with coins that included the 1958.

Is such a low mintage possible today? If the banking system continues to back up with old coins, can the next four quarters in the 2009 sequence continue their mintage declines?

If the Philadelphia production declines at the same rate through the six-design quarter run, we would be close to the 7 million figure.

It would be interesting to see how collectors would react to it.

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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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