Despite each coin in the State Quarters series being minted in the hundreds of millions of coins, the venerable Statehood Quarters program is one of the most widely collected coin series in history. The U.S. Treasury Department occasionally states in press releases that 140 million Americans are collecting State Quarters. So, even if the average mintage of a circulating State Quarter is somewhere around 270 million coins of each date and mint mark, with 140 million people collecting them, that's only about 2 coins per person, right?
Actually, the Treasury Department's estimate of 140 million State Quarter collectors seems suspect. This figure probably includes everybody who ever put away 1 coin from their own state or something, but the point is that State Quarter collecting is very popular. Like any popular series of coins, the supply often fails to meet demand, causing a price increase. This brings us to the first half of the answer to my question, "What are State Quarters worth?"
I recently updated my two State Quarter value charts, one for single coins and one for rolls of 40 coins (the standard $10 roll of coins.) As in all of my coin value guides, these values are actual prices that coin dealers will pay you for your coins today, not inflated catalog values that lead many a collector to suffer a horrible disappointment when he goes to sell his coin collection.
- State Quarter Value Guide for Single Coins
- State Quarter Value Guide for Rolls of Coins
- Why Are Most Coin Price Guides Unreliable?
- The Difference Between a Coin's Price and its Value
The second half of the answer to my question, "What are State Quarters worth?" depends on our future economy. If 140 million Americans have really squirreled away some quantity of State Quarters and our economy continues to go sour, the vast majority of those Americans are going to suddenly flood our economy with all those $10 rolls of quarters (not to mention all the dollar coins and other assorted spare change that folks have lying around the house.) Two things might happen really quickly if the average person finds that they need to spend all that saved-up change. (1) The sudden influx of currently reserved money into our economy will further increase inflation, and (2) the collector values for these coins will plummet as the supply suddenly surges.
Fortunately, there are factors in our economy that will strongly mitigate, if not outright prevent this doomsday scenario. First of all, on the national level, hopefully our nation's banking and economic gurus have a pretty good handle on controlling our economy, so any fluctuations should be modest and brief. Secondly, like it or not, coin dealers also exert a fair bit of control over coin values by the way the coin market operates at the wholesale level. If all these presumed State Quarters suddenly hit the market, it's a safe bet that our friends, the coin dealers, will absorb the majority of them, at least for the medium term, partially to protect their own investments in this area. And lest anybody think I'm trying to imply that there is collusion or price fixing among coin dealers, that it not what I'm saying at all. The coin market has always ultimately gone up in the long run, and State Quarters are very popular, even if people can't afford to hoard them away at times. If coin dealers can snag these great coins at current prices, it serves two ends. They get the coins cheaply, and they prevent further deterioration of the selling prices by taking the excess coins off the market. And in the long run, the prices will go up.
The original Statehood Quarter program is in its final year in 2008, although Congressional legislation has extended the general idea one more year to allow for quarters to honor Washington D.C. and the U.S. Territories. As the State Quarter program winds down, and especially as the final State Quarter is being released soon (for Hawaii), many industry experts expect all State Quarters to sharply rise in value, at least for awhile, as people put away complete Uncirculated sets.Photo courtesy of the United States Mint