Why a National Coin Shortage?

The U.S. Mint will produce a near record number of coins in 2020.  How is this possible? We have a coin shortage!   Even with all the business closures and restrictions, the economy may be overheating and demand for cash is very strong.  This directly contradicts that online and credit card use is at an all time high.  So can both be true; or is this a symptom of stimulus cash being spent quickly?  Here are some facts to consider.   

According to the U.S. Mint, in 2019 they produced 17 percent of the coins used in circulation.  In 2019, the Mint produced approximately 12 billion coins for circulation.  By referencing these figures, we can extrapolate the total 2019 coins in circulation at approximately 70 billion coins.   Due to the pandemic and online shopping, it is fair to say coin demand should be lower in 2020, but this does not seem to be the case.

For 2020, taking into account the number of coins already minted and statements from the Mint of  production goals for the remainder of the year, I estimate the Mint will produce over 15.5 billion coins in 2020.  This is about a 30 percent increase from 2019.   According to the Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2020, a Federal Reserve Spokesman stated that coin deposits by the public are down 50 percent.  Who wants to stand in line at a Bank to deposit coins?   Given these numbers, I estimate, the entire system is 10 to 15 percent short of the normal coin supply, hence the coin shortage.  

What does this mean for collectors?   Not many people think to save new coins, therefore,  even with huge mintage numbers uncirculated examples may be difficult to find in the future.  Currently, Philadelphia rolls have turned out to be difficult to find in uncirculated condition, particularly nickels.  Dimes may be the breakout coin of 2020 as they are also not easy to obtain.  2020 National park quarters are interesting.  Ironically, bats were featured on the first park quarters made for circulation in 2020.  Look for the special West Point quarter edition, with a “W” mint mark, mixed in with regular production rolls.   Half dollars, Innovation, and Native American dollars were only made for collectors in 2020, and not made for circulation.  If you have any coin questions, call 209-668-3682, and please feel free to mention this article.

Protect your coins

I have heard many stories of theft and break-ins. And is it just me or I am hearing a dramatic increase of these stories to the point that California is almost lawless.   I can only hope things change in the future and the penalties for these offensives increase to the point of being a real deterrent. It goes without saying that individuals should seek professionals to guide them through the following points. I can help with coin questions or evaluations for insurance.   Remember that most home owners insurance does not automatically cover coin collections, so speak to your agent to confirm.

Unfortunately, nothing is fail safe and any system of security can be defeated. All we can do is try to slow down the progress of those who rather use their energy for crime.   From the over 100 stories of home or business burglary, the number one deterrent is a working alarm that sounds off when tripped.   Many times an alarm will stop the burglary in its tracks or at least minimize loss and limit the time of the crime.   Of course, a response is needed so double check that call list.
In addition to having a working alarm it can be good to have a big heavy safe.  If it is possible to bolt the safe down, do it professionally.   If getting a big safe, they are no joke and can be dangerous. Be cautious and consult with a an experienced professionals to install.   Many smaller safes and wall units will simply be ripped out or picked up and taken if the burglar has enough time.

Be cautious on giving people access to your house and knowing locations of a safe. Be discrete on broad casting vacation schedules off and online. Rethink ordering gold, silver, coins and precious metals online, you are leaving a digital trail – consider a USPS PO Box for a delivery address. Split up valuables in different safes and or locations.   Make a list of valuables, especially anything that can identified by a serial number.   Take photographs of coin collections and the albums and holders and store separate.   Consider having a safety deposit box at a bank.

I hope these tips from my experience is helpful and can help someone avoid a future loss.

Coins Worth a Premium, Part 3

Part 3, This article is continued from the last issue which continues with a general list of coins worth a premium.

Silver Dimes, Quarters, and Half Dollars dated 1964 and before will have a premium..   You may be shocked as to their value. Half Dollars made between 1965 and 1970 are made of 40% silver and will have a premium.

Silver dollars made 1935 and before will have a premium.  Note that the Eisenhower dollar made for circulation from 1971 to 1978 are not silver and can occasionally be picked up at your local bank.  That being stated, the U.S. Mint did issue 40% silver dollars from 1971-74 in special blue envelopes and brown boxes that have a premium. Also, 1976 special edition 3pc Silver sets where issued in 40% Silver, but 1976 Eisenhower Dollars issued for circulation are not silver.   Eisenhower Dollars are the last of the large coin issued for circulation and there may be a time in the future when they will have a strong secondary market.

U.S. Gold Coins minted 1933 and before will have a premium.  This includes all denominations.   There are many special issues and modern commemorative coins made by the U.S. Mint along with Proof and Mint sets that will have a premium.   Basically, if you have coins, medals, or anything unusual or in special packaging, it is a good idea to get them checked out by a professional.

Do not toss world coins and currency.  Almost all have some value to collectors even if the coins cannot be used in their respective country.   Of course, most collections and sets will have a premium value along with many reference books on coins and paper money.   Do not clean coins as it is almost always better to leave them as found. There are occasions when coins have been stored in destructive holders that contain PVC or other materials that can damage coins.  These situations require professional handling and possible conservation of the coins.

The information presented is a quick reference and not a comprehensive list which might require books and research.  Those who just want to get familiar with coins and learn more about them can always come by the coin shop, Thoreson Numismatics located at 118 West Main Street in Turlock or call Troy at 209-668-3682.


Coins Worth a Premium, Part 2

Part 2, This article is continued from the last issue.  Other collections will contain receipts for coins that were purchased from reputable dealers and auction houses and may contain a library of reference books.  There is also the collector who is essentially collecting and accumulating coins.  This may be a low budget collector who is fishing for coins in everyday change.   It can be the person placing mail orders from private coin companies. If this is the case, then it’s always a good idea to bring examples into the shop to do a price check.

Below is a general list of coins worth a premium.

Wheat Cents made from 1958 and before (Note:  Memorial cents from 1959 to 1981 are copper). Cents made in 1982 can be copper if they have a weight of 3.1 grams.  Zinc coins made in 1982 of a weight of 2.5 grams. As of October 2019, copper cents from 1959 to 1982 are restricted by law not to be melted or exported, therefore, there is no solid secondary market for the copper value of these coins.

War Nickels dated 1942 to 1945.  1942 is a transition year so look for the large P or S letter above the Monticello on the reverse.  Mint marks for War Nickels can include P,D,S, which include Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.  War nickels contain silver.

Any nickel dated 1938 and before, plus 1939-D or 1950-D nickels.  Uncirculated coins may be worth saving, or if in sets, please get them checked out before taking them to the bank.  As of the end of September 2019, any box of nickels ($100 face value) had a melt value of approximately $85. It is currently against the law to melt or export clad nickels, but it may be worth saving all nickels for future gain.

For a complete list of coin values,  I recommend: A Guide Book of United States Coins, aka Red Book, A Handbook of United States, aka Blue Book by R. S. Yeoman.

This article will be continued in the next issue.  Thoreson Numismatics is located at 118 West Main Street, in Turlock California.  Please call Troy with any questions at 209-668-3682.

Coins Worth a Premium, Part 1

Which coins are worth a premium? Do you have a batch of old coins? Stop! Do not take them to the bank. I wrote this article to help anyone identify the most common premium coins. I have looked through thousands of accumulations and coin collections and based on my experience, I have written this guide. Let’s get started!

If the collection or accumulation is part of an estate, many times just dividing up the coins will turn out to be inequitable simply because one coin of the same type may be worth multiples of a similar coin. As a general rule, never clean coins. Please do not attempt to wipe a coin, dip it in chemicals, brush off, or touch surfaces with your fingers.

If your goal is to eventually get the coins evaluated, do some research before handling and trying to organize. Keep coins and paper currency safe, which includes keeping away from moisture and environments with volatile temperatures.

Accumulation: Accumulation of coins (I will interchange the words coins and currency) are typically saved because they were different from the current circulating examples, brought back from military service, world change from a trip, or saved for silver content.

Accumulations can include coins, currency, tokens, medals, or anything that looks like a coin or paper money. Typically, the older the accumulation, the greater probability of rarities. Geographic regions can play a role in rarities, such as, early San Francisco minted or pioneer fractional coins from California dated during early America or Gold Rush era.

Collections: A common collection will be in blue Whitman folder albums. More
advanced collections will be in Dansco Albums or other albums that have slides and
pages that show both sides of the coin. Within the last 35 years, collections may include certified coins by PCGS or NGC.

This article will be continued in the next issue. Thoreson Numismatics is located at 118 West Main Street, in Turlock California. Please call Troy with any questions at 209-668-3682.