Circulating Quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters

In an unusual move, the San Francisco Mint is striking circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters to be sold in numismatic products or sets later this year.

While the San Francisco Mint has struck proof versions of the America the Beautiful Quarters, until this point they have never struck circulating quality versions. It has been many years since any circulating quality coins have been struck with an “S” mint mark.

To the best of my recollection, the last time the San Francisco Mint struck circulating quality coins with the “S” mint mark was the 1979-S, 1980-S, and 1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollars. The first two years were issued for circulation and within the annual mint sets. The final year was included only within mint sets.

The 2012-S ATB Quarters would not be issued for circulation, but only included within numismatic products.

Within an article for Coin Update, I have some quotes from Michael White of the US Mint Office of Public Affairs, which provide some indication of the US Mint’s motivation/intentions for the new products.

We were looking for a new numismatic product with an “S” mark.  Feedback we had received from customers was that there was always great anticipation with products that had the “S” mint mark.

We felt that an “S” mint mark on America the Beautiful Quarters would bring some additional visibility to the program. A business case was developed that supported moving forward with the product. The quarters that will be produced will be circulating quality and sold as numismatic products.

While it remains to be seen how the offering will be received by collectors, so far it seems more interesting and exciting that some of the other types of newly introduced products. Early within the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, the US Mint introduced a slate of “new products” which consisted entirely of the same coins found within existing products, simply remixed or repackaged.

I recently wrote a post exploring some areas where the US Mint has the authority to alter coins or create numismatic products. One of the areas that I mentioned was “Use of Different Mint Facilities or Finishes”.

In response to my inquiries about the new offering, the US Mint indicated that information on the “products/sets” which would include the circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters would provided once the details become available.

An article published in CoinWorld indicates that the coins will be sold within 100-coin bags and 40-coin rolls. The article also indicates a maximum mintage of 1.4 million for each of the five designs. If this is true, the mintage for the given product type seems too small.

Sales for the US Mint’s “P” and “D” mint marked El Yunque National Forest Quarters within bags and rolls have already accounted for 2,386,400 coins. This makes about 1.2 million coins per mint mark. I believe demand for bags and rolls of the “S” mint marked coins would be many times greater, similar to how demand for the Chester Arthur Presidential Dollars within bags and rolls has been multiples of the demand for the previous James Garfield products.

The high demand and limited supply would create the scenario for an instant sell out. This would likely be accompanied by gridlock on the US Mint’s website, complaints from customers who could not place orders, and immediately higher secondary market prices. This seemed to be a scenario the US Mint tries to avoid (because of the complaints), so it is surprising that they would set it up once again.

Going forward, the US Mint has not yet determined whether the production of circulation strike America the Beautiful Quarters at the San Francisco Mint will continue in subsequent years.

Some oddities behind the offering of circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters include the fact that this occurs in the third year of the program. This expands the expected scope of a complete collection and means that some albums will be missing spaces for coins. Also, these uncirculated quarters with the “S” mint mark will not be included in the 2012 Uncirculated Coin Set that just went on sale today. While unusual, there is some precedent for this. The 1999-P and 1999-D Susan B. Anthony Dollars were not included in the annual mint set, but sold within a separate two coin set or bags and distributed for circulation.

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  1. Richard W says

    Nice first the 75TH AN SAE set,now the S Quarter.I will be very interested seeing how it is marketed.Thanks

  2. Alan says

    San Francisco is my favorite mint! I’d buy a set and maybe some rolls of the Hawaii design.

  3. says

    A few somewhat disconnected thoughts on this.

    First, I expect a significant amount of criticism of these coins simply because they are a clad product.

    Second, near the end of the article, it is mention the new coins are not included in the upcoming 2012 uncirculated coin set. If the Mint wants to make more money off completists, they could create a separate 2012 uncirculated America the Beautiful five quarter set containing only the “S” circulating quality coins.

    Third, I remain convinced the best way to help the AtB program is through increasing mintages of circulating quarters. The Mint may excite some numismatic buyers with this tactic, but they need to awaken the interest of the general public in these coins and that means increasing production.

    Fourth, it is possible the Mint is deliberately “lowballing” production. While limited supplies have generated waves of collector complaints and website crashes in the past, this also tends to generate a lot of interest and discussion in US Mint products as well. The US Mint may be attempting to follow a modified version of the models used by world mints where they deliberately mint smaller quantities of coins at high premiums in order to generate collector excitement and bigger profits.

    Alternatively, it is possible that the Mint is just plain underestimating demand for the product.

    Lastly, it will be interesting to see whether there are any production problems. Since the San Francisco Mint hasn’t issued circulating coins in 30 years we could potentially see flawed coins or even error coins.

  4. Richard W says

    I believe we should stop the second guess bit and each collector can make their own judgement upon the mints release announcement,and product release.This product will dazzle some.It’s easy to be a skeptic.

  5. TomP says

    I completely agree with CO that a 5-coin S set be produced to supplement the unc Mint set. The S coins could be included in a version 2 of the unc Mint set but only if a separate 5 coin set is offered to mollify earlier purchasers of the ‘total’ unc Mint set.

  6. Brad says

    Wow, I don’t think there’s any way the Mint could realistically stick to that 1.4 million per quarter production figure! You’re right, they would ALL be gone in no time, and then the fury from those who missed out would begin. The backlash could be even worse than what was experienced regarding the 25th Anniversary ASE set!

    How can they realistically set such a low mintage figure? But, now that the cat’s out of the bag regarding that, it’s too late. If more coins are struck after the first batch is sold out due to unhappy buyers who missed out, there would then be backlash from those who WERE able to order and bought the quarters on faith in the original announcement that the mintage would be only 1.4 million each.

    The Mint would have been much wiser to keep their mouths shut on a maximum mintage level in this case. There would still be backlash over a quick sellout, but at least no one would be able to accuse the Mint of catering to flippers’ needs. Without the prior announcement of a low-mintage, the early sellout would have been a surprise. Most coins would probably have been sold to real collectors and not flippers, who would have been caught completely off-guard on what turned out to be a hot item. Then the flippers would be the ones who got burned and real collectors would have been the lucky buyers of an item that actually went UP in value for a change!

    Considering all of this, it doesn’t seem like the Mint will be able to make everyone happy when it comes to these new circulating-quality “S” quarters!

    I do hope that around 30,000 or so each are held back to be included in the “ATB Circulating Coin Set” this year. With the difficulting in getting circulating versions of the “P” and “D” coins at banks due to the low-mintages and spotty distribution, those sets provide a nice way to get each circulating-quality design and Mint Mark at once, in decent packaging to boot. The markup for the sets was somewhat high for 2010 and 2011, but the 2012 set was supposed to go down a few dollars. It would be an awesome set this year if the “S” versions are included, combined with the lower price!

  7. says


    That’s pretty much in line with what I am thinking.


    This may be a deliberate strategy by the Mint. While a rapid sellout plus website crashes would provoke some anger, it would also get people excited about the product and it would provoke a lot of discussion online and elsewhere. It would also give the Mint clearance to price these issues aggressively and would ensure big sales for future installments if they didn’t increase mintage limits.

    Of course, this could also just be the US Mint being thickheaded again, too 😉

  8. Louis says

    Brad, well put. I’m in for a roll set if they don’t raise the mintage too high once they see how much demand there is. I was pretty excited when I saw the story in Coin World earlier today. It really does seem the Mint has trouble getting demand right. I’m sure it’s hard to get it just right, but anyone who collects modern coins knows 1.2 million is too low.

  9. Two Cents says

    I agree that the S-mintmarked ATB quarters as envisioned by the Mint will be a super-quick sellout.

    At 1.4 million coins for each design, that would put a maximum of 35,000 rolls available for sale (or 14,000 bags or a combination thereof). Already, about 25,000 rolls and 3,000 bags of each P- and D-mintmarked quarters are sold, for a total of around 1.3 million for normal, everyday high-mintage quarters. Imagine the demand for 1.4 million maximum mintage quarters.

    Compare those S-mintmarked 35,000 rolls or 14,000 bags to the 100,000 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set, which sold out in record time, and you will see a frenzy as people order these rolls and bags online.

    Of course, these clad quarters are not one-ounce silver pieces, but the demand is still there. After all, collectors will not have a complete ATB set without the S-mintmark coins, and they will line up on the opening day of sales (but probably mostly dealers, flippers and investors, who see the potential for large price appreciation).

    I can see the Mint trying to comply with collectors’ interest in S-mintmarked coins, but do collectors really need to have 40 or 100 specimens of the same coin (as in rolls or bags)? I would think that one example would be fine for most collectors. It would be mostly dealers and speculators who would be interested in large quantities.

    Another point of minting these coins, according to the Mint, is to “bring additional visibility to the [ATB] program.” Minting coins only for collectors is the wrong approach. The Mint should release the coins in circulation and make a great fanfare in the general print publications that because of the 75th anniversary of the modern mint, there will be low-mintage coins released, and the public should be on the lookout for them. That will get people looking at their loose change. As for collectors, the Mint can sell the quarters in special 5-coin circulation-quality and uncirculated sets.

  10. Ron says

    This is off-topic, but does anyone have an idea as to when the next first spouse is released?

  11. says

    Steve, I’m waiting to see what happens with the numismatic AtB releases before I make any decisions on the bullion.

    Two Cents,

    I like your idea about releasing some S quarters directly into circulation, and I hope they take it into consideration. A “treasure hunt” aspect might bring a little energy into the series.

  12. Jon in CT says

    The Mint needs to add a new term to their coin collecting glossary at

    circulating quality:
    a coin produced using general circulation minting techniques specially made for collectors.

    This would complement the existing term:

    business strike:
    a coin produced for general circulation (as opposed to a proof or uncirculated coin specially made for collectors).

    Currently, the half-dollar and dollar coins are all ‘circulating quality’ coins.

  13. Jon in CT says

    Oops. the definition should have been:

    circulation quality:
    a business strike coin made exclusively for collectors.

  14. Ikaika says

    Now a 5 oz ATB with the “S” mint mark would be something folks. But unlikely because of the special press required to strike them.

  15. says

    C.O….I’m also interested to what happens with the numismatic ATB’s, but with spot silver where it’s at now, you can get the bullion for $170 ea.

  16. says

    CW… of course you can buy the proof clad and silver ATB quarters with the “S” mintmark….

    I’d like to see the mint produce a SILVER unc./mint set with the “S” mintmark

  17. Stiffy McStiff says

    even better- date rolls of the states quarter program are dead money – has admitted this is purely a marketing effort, dont be a sucker

  18. Zaz says

    Great! That’ll mess up the PDSS Dansco albums. Dunno if they can fit 25 quarters per year? And no 2010-2011 versions.

  19. Clair Hardesty says

    I think Jon made a point that others have missed. The quarters made in circulating quality from SF don’t belong with the newly released uncirculated set but rather with the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters Circulating Coin Set when it comes out later this year. Circulating quality coins are very different from uncirculated coins (at least they were up until last year). Circulating quality (business) strikes rarely grade MS67 or above whereas uncirculated strikes often grade MS68 & MS69, with some MS70s. The MS70 grade is virtually unheard of in circulation strikes. Circulating quality strikes are made faster and with less force than uncirculated strikes and see less careful handling. I guess the real question is the SF coins true business strikes or they some sort of cross between uncirculated and business. Even though the mint stopped using specially prepared planchets for the uncirculated coins, as far as I know they still use specially prepared die, use higher than normal strike forces, and provide special handling (compared to business strikes).

  20. Leo S. says


    I emailed a few days ago regarding any information on the issue date for the first FS gold coin. You answered and said you would check. Just checking back to see if you have any new information on that topic. I keep looking at the Mint Schedule and there is still nothing on them. Were you able to find anything out about the FS coins for 2012?


  21. Michael says

    As of today, the US Mint says they have not yet determined release dates or mintages for the 2012 First Spouse Coins.

    I will have some other information on upcoming products in a post tomorrow.

  22. Louis says

    Good to see you are back commenting.
    What ever happened to CoinTalk? It seems like folks gravitated over here?

  23. Mercury says

    I don’t get it…? The Mint is here enticing collector with the production of a new circulated mint mark quarter, when they cant even keep the already minted ATB P & D mint mark quarters in circulation. It seem to me is that what were really being enticed to become, is a nation of hoarders. The quarter has now become the new penny; there has got to be someone out their with a basement full of 50 gallon drums of quarters. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to make money that isn’t being used to make purchases?

  24. Louis says

    Check out the Mint’s product listing. El Yunque ATB 5 ounce numismatic version is slated for May 29!!

  25. Shutter says

    El Yunque ATB 5 ounce numismatic version is slated for May 29!!

    With price TBD. Hope it’s lower, but probably not.

  26. merryxmasmrscrooge says

    Yeah, I found a few 1979S Anthony’s at the amusement park for lockers, etc., but they didn’t circ. much. Moreso, you have the 1968-74S pennies and 68-70S nickels you still find in change today.
    ’12S quarter seems cool, but it’d be better if they put a few in circ., so kids could find them. The kids down my street would be totally psyched and be going to the corner candy store every day..

  27. says

    I just heard about the new AtB soon. Glad to see it’s coming but would have liked more advance warning. Hopefully we’ll get a lock on the price soon. How they price the El Yunque coin will probably give us some idea of what the pricing for the SF75 Two Coin set will look like.

  28. NATATACK says

    Would have been nice to do a complete set of unc s mintmarked coins from the penny to the brass dollars and package it like the P & D mint set. Even a complete set of the unc S-quarters would be better than selling them by the bag or rolls. That way the 1.4 million coins would be spread over a larger collector and dealer{flipper} base. Not all collectors need a roll or bag of each coin to fill a book or collection. This would save a lot of grief for the mint when a lot of collectors are shut out of the ordering window due to a quick sell out.

  29. Louis says

    I’m in for the El Yunque collector version even at $205 if necessary, but no more bullion pucks for me! Wouldn’t it be ironic if the bullion versions end up selling so few coins that they are the lower mintage coins?

  30. Two Cents says

    Natatack, that is a great idea — a denomination set of S-mintmarked coins. I would buy that, especially as a complement to the uncirculated Mint set. Better than buying 40 or 100 specimens of the same coin (as in rolls and bags).

  31. NATATACK says

    If you think about it, for a collector to put a few sets together they would have to buy either a roll or bag of each coin, open up the wrapper or mint sewn bag, remove the few coins and either rewrap or repackage and try to sell the remaining coins off on ebay or dealer. A lot of effort for adding a set or two for your collection. Don’t know what the premium will be for a 38 coin roll or a 98 coin opened bag,

  32. kip says

    Has any one seen the defect on the reel edge of the Quarter dollars S set 2012 United States Mint Proof Set? All five coins had a 5/16″ distortion on the reel edge.

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