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What Happens After State Set Done?
By Ginger Rapsus, Numismatic News
March 05, 2014

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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The state quarter program got many people interested in collecting the old-fashioned way. Young and old checked their change, hoping to build sets from circulation, buying folders and albums for their sets.

But it seems that interest quieted somewhat after this series was over. The National Park (America the Beautiful) quarters don’t seem to have the appeal that the state quarters had. The National Park quarters are seen less often than the state quarters.

After looking for state quarters, some collectors may feel that looking for each one was a fun pastime, but there were no rarities to find. Finding one of each date and mintmark can take some time, but when every hole is filled, what next? And if there are no rare and valuable coins to find in change, what can a collector do?

If the collecting bug has bitten, the answer is obvious. Keep collecting. Try a set of Roosevelt dimes or Jefferson nickels. Look through your change and see how many different dates and mintmarks you can find. Get a few blue folders and see how many holes you can fill.

And if the collecting bug has not bitten you for those sets, why not keep trying with something else? Maybe you will find something unusual that will spark your enthusiasm. Perhaps there are no true rarities in circulation, like there was years ago, but interesting coins are still out there.

A silver war nickel or two, the odd silver quarter, an especially pretty dime that came have come from a proof set might find their way to you. Who knows what coins lurk out there waiting to be found?

Some collectors enjoy searching through rolls. Don’t expect to find something special right away, although it can happen. And don’t give up after looking at one or two rolls. Get a few rolls and check everything. Maybe a mint error or scarce variety will turn up, like a 1969-S or 1972 doubled-die cent. Examining each coin carefully, and discovering a few mint errors, can lead to a new collecting specialty.

Mint errors are out there, and some are valuable. There are guidebooks to show you what to look for. Do your homework, and you may find something special.

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Do not consider a set of state quarters or Jefferson nickels to be an end in itself. Almost every older collector started with a set of Lincoln cents, and went on from there. A few cent collectors did find the 1909-S VDB in change, but the majority did not. They may have ended up buying that coin, or moving on to another set, or discovering a new collecting specialty in a guidebook.

Crack open that guidebook and read it. Read about each coin series. Look at the lists of dates and mintmarks. Is there one set that really appeals to you, like Buffalo nickels? Maybe you will never see a Buffalo nickel in circulation – and if you do, the date will be worn off – but you can have a good time building a set in a different way.

Get to a few coin shows and check the dealers’ junk boxes. You can find some remarkable coins, if not in Mint State, coins you may need for your new set. Prices won’t be too painful. If someone has a box or bag of Buffalo nickels or Mercury dimes, why not buy it and see what you can find in it?

One dealer displayed a box of Mercury dimes in his window during the holiday season. At a glance, the dimes looked to be in high circulated grades, with most dates in the 1940s. This box would make a great gift for a collector. Different dates and mintmarks can be found, maybe a few partial sets.

Why not get a few rolls, or even a bag of coins, to search through?

I once heard of a collector who purchased a bag of quarters in search of State quarters. A few mint error coins and even a silver quarter or two were in this bag. And this is a fun snow day or sick day activity, if you have kids and you want them to try collecting.

And if you feel that prices are too high, and collecting is only for rich people, find a specialty that is relatively undiscovered and unpopular. Unpopular does not mean uninteresting. Many Hard Times tokens and Civil War tokens are available for good prices. These tokens make great collecting. Mintage figures are unknown. Availability helps the market figure out what is scarce and what isn’t. There are many different varieties to find. And these pieces are real souvenirs of the times, genuine pieces of history.

Perhaps there are no more 1909-S VDB cents or 1916-D Mercury dimes to be found in change, but there is much more to collecting than that. The thrill is in the chase. Maybe the collector who checks bags and bank rolls has a better time than the collector who buys a bunch of scarce coins at once and never looks at them again. Keep searching. Keep collecting.

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