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Diatribe: Buying Pizza With Priceless Coins.

09/24/2012

As a child, my grandfather would give my younger brother and I a silver Kennedy Half Dollar every week when we visited for Sunday dinner.  We would bring them home and hoard them in special hiding places as if they were gold bars.  As the years passed, our collections began to grow.  Unfortunately, as those same years passed, my need for increased cash flow grew exponentially.  On more than one occasion I took a coin with me on a bicycle trip to the drugstore downtown to buy some Zotz or BottleCaps.  It never occurred to me that a fifty-cent coin could someday be worth much more.

Robbers in Battle Ground, Washington didn’t understand the difference between face value and resale value when they used an old Liberty quarter worth up to $18,500 to pay for a pizza.  Local police were called by an individual seeking the $1,000 reward that was offered after a theft of rare coins in a nearby town.  When more coins from the stolen collection, some 200 years old, turned up at a movie theater a suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree theft.

Beginning in 1999, I started collecting State Quarters.  I bought books to keep them in, one for each of my nieces and nephews, and began to organize the coins with the intention of giving them to the kids when they are older and the collections might be valuable.  The successful State Quarter program was conceived by the U.S. Mint as a way to create a new generation of coin collectors and were so popular, in fact, it is estimated that roughly half of the U.S. population collected the coins like I did.  The federal government is said to have made additional profits of $3.0 billion because collectors have taken the coins out of circulation.  I’m confident that the coins I’ve saved to give as gifts will never be considered rare or valuable.  If the kids want to sneak them out for gum or candy, and make a memory that includes me, my efforts will have paid off in full.

Do you collect coins?

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6 Comments
  1. I don’t collect ’em as much as I spend ’em…..

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  2. When I was a kid I collected some coins, mainly wheaty pennies and bicentennial quarters, and the silver dollars/half dollars. But that’s about it. I too spent more half dollar coins than I should have. Who knew??

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    • My box of coins was an INVESTMENT. I was going to get rich when those coins were discovered to be quite rare. I also hoarded Wheat Pennies. Some of them are worth about two cents now! 😉

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  3. Rick permalink

    When I was a lifeguard @ a local pool, we would sometimes have kids that brought in coins to buy snacks that were more of the collector variety. These kids had no idea they might be spending coins that were worth more than the face value of the “50 cent piece”.

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  4. Hubby & I collected the state quarters as well when they came out – made doubly difficult by the fact we are Canadian! I’m not sure what happened to them, I’ll have to ask hubby,

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  5. I’m Canadian too, and collect Canadian, American and international coins. I’m still trying to fill in my state quarters set. I need five more. We’re off for a weekend shopping trip to Detroit. I’ll take my list along and maybe get lucky.

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