It’s 10 p.m.—do you know where your nickels are?

When I was a kid growing up in my grandmother’s house, silver quarters still turned up occasionally in circulation. Granny had for years been picking them out of her change from the Sunflower grocery store and putting them in brown plastic medicine bottles that were the perfect size for quarter dollars. (Homemade coin rolls, most assuredly not PVC-free.) Unfortunately for her, this was after the invention of Coca-Cola and before the widespread use of childproof caps. Also unfortunate was the fact that I could reach the topmost shelf of the medicine cabinet by climbing on the sink. I hate to imagine how many of those worn-but-lovely silver quarters ended up in the till of the convenience store down the road. (Even then I could appreciate the ringing sound of a silver quarter when it fell on the Formica counter, compared to the flat tap of the clad coins. Not that I knew the term “clad coins.” There were just “silver quarters” and “those other quarters.”) They’d hardly be worth more than melt today, but I still cringe when I think of them.

In later years, when I was working as a book editor at Whitman Publishing, the most gorgeous Jefferson nickel turned up in my change. My more experienced coworkers reckoned it had been in someone’s nickel album for years, perhaps getting into circulation through the same vector as Granny’s silver quarters—namely, some dumb kid.

*   *   *

If there were an academic discipline called “U.S. Mint Studies,” dissertations could be written about the Mint’s 225th anniversary offerings, including the 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Set (17XC). The sets famously (or infamously) sold out seven minutes after their noon release on August 1, the first day of the World’s Fair of Money in Denver, Colorado. On the morning of August 3, they were available again on the Mint’s website. Counting the opening-day sales, the large dealer returns, and the resumed sales as of August 3, the net sales figure on the Mint’s August 6 report was 217,514 units.

If we take that figure as gospel and ignore any unprocessed returns on the Mint’s shelves as of report time on August 6, that means almost 7,500 sets were available last Monday, August 7. During the course of the week, sales and returns accounted for a net 5,796 in sales, for a final figure on August 13 of 223,310. Around the time people on the East Coast woke up on August 14, the sets were briefly labeled unavailable again, but they were back on the website today. If sales averaged a little over 800 per day last week, and the rate this week slows by (say) half, the final inventory of 1,690 should be gone by the end of the day Friday, August 18. All of which is useful if you’re writing a dissertation on the sets; otherwise, not so much.

Now to consider some older numbers, and to hazard a guess at future value. There’s not much precedent when it comes to special-finish, base-metal coins—just these two examples:

  1. In 1994, the Mint released a Coinage and Currency set containing an Uncirculated, 1993-dated Thomas Jefferson silver dollar, an Uncirculated 1994-P Jefferson nickel with a special matte finish, and a 1976 $2 Federal Reserve Note. Originally sold for $34, the sets now run about $110, according to the 2018 Red Book. The official sales figure for the sets (and thus for the nickels) is 167,703. They’re valued separately in the Red Book at $50 for an MS-63 and $100 for an MS-65.
  2. In 1997, the Botanic Garden Coinage and Currency Set contained an Uncirculated 1997 Botanic Garden commemorative silver dollar, an Uncirculated 1997 Jefferson nickel with a special matte finish, and a 1995 $1 Federal Reserve Note. Priced at $36, the extremely limited production of 25,000 sold out completely. The sets are valued around $250 today, based largely on the special nickels, which are valued separately at about $200 for MS-63 and $225 for MS-65.

Our dissertation writer might look at these current values, 23 and 20 years after the initial issues, and guess that in another 20 years, the 2017 Enhanced Uncirculated nickels might be valued at, say, $25 in MS-63 and $50 in MS-65. That’s if our degree in U.S. Mint Studies is part of a humanities program. Move it over to an economics or statistics department, and our hypothetical student will be factoring in all manner of variables: the relative mintages of regular circulating nickels in 1994 and 1997; the ambient economic and numismatic climates over the years; the fact that the 2017 special nickels may seem less special given that there are nine other Enhanced Uncirculated coins to choose from; the possibility that the Mint could start issuing EU sets regularly in subsequent years; and so on. (I also used to edit conference papers for the National Bureau of Economic Research. There’s nothing those people won’t count.)

This humanities student is making no predictions. I’m just going to enjoy looking at my EU coins, maybe put together a selection of the best ones from the handful of sets I ordered, and be grateful my cats have no interest in vending machines.

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  1. Brad says

    I love this article! I’ve found several MS coins in recent years that were probably the result of having been spent by some “dumb kid”, or possibly some “dumb heir.” The coolest one I’ve found so far was a 1940 nickel that looked like it had come out of the bank roll 10 minutes prior.

  2. says

    So when is the U.S. Mint Leadership going to get off their dead arse and produce some Fractional Buffaloes or 1 oz High Relief Enhanced Bufffaloes?

    A mint produces COINS.., Not medals, nor Enhanced gimmicks.

  3. Mattarch says

    Nice post. Would the 2014 clad Kennedy 2-coin uncirculated set also be a good comparison? Although only 3 years old they seem to have held their initial low price.

  4. My Preccciousss says

    Love your story, Diana! If I was Granny in your story, my kid sister would have been you. My brother and I had a coin collection growing up, largely consisting of silver coins that I bought at face value from the H.S. cafeteria workers when they were counting their cash at the end of the lunch period. Little did we know that our sister was helping herself to our silver rolls so that she could have a steady supply of Slurpee’s at the neighborhood 7-11. She confessed all this to us well into our adult years. In my mind’s eye I can picture that 7-11 clerk’s smiling face as he said to himself “Oh boy, here she comes again!” 🙁

  5. data dave says

    Nice story Diana. I have come to like nickels more over the past 10 years. Mostly because they are about the only coin worth looking through where you can still find interesting ones. I have probably looked through close to 5000 rolls now and have found a complete set including the 1950 D and all of the silver ones. I doubt looking through 5000 rolls of dimes or quarters or cents would have been as fruitful. I have found buffalo, Canadian, proof and a fair number of foreign coins. I have found dimes and pennies also. I’m sure it is not a profitable use of my time, but its fun.

    As for the EU set, it will be interesting to see which coin ends up being the most in demand. Because if you think about it, once you break up a set you get five coins to sell or slab. Proof cents used to go for $3 whereas proof nickels would only fetch $1. I bet we see EU rolls very soon on the bay.

  6. says

    Only 5,977 of the 2017 Enhanced Uncirculated Mint Sets left. Come on Coin Fans we can do this …. dig deep…… let’s do this for … errrrr…… Rhett Jepson ?

  7. gatortreke says

    A couple of months ago we received a 1968-S proof nickel in payment for copies. My office only has a small change box for copy costs so I was surprised to see it in the box at the end of the day. Of course I switched it out with another nickel and have kept it. It’s not worth anything but it was a nice surprise nonetheless. I wondered at that time and still today whose proof set was broken up to get to this beauty, full steps and all?

  8. John Q. Coinage says

    I sold 3 of the Jefferson sets for $325 back in the day, traded the $ for UK Sovereigns @ $32 each- I have made a good PAPER profit……..nickles are a good area to try to collect from change rolls, but of late the # of early dates are shrinking! I did fnd a 39-d 2 years ago in a group of 10 rolls I got @ the bank, maybe 2 war silvers & that’s about it from 10 rolls.

  9. Tom says

    @ cagcrisp. Palladium in the 90’s taught me to pay attention to the futures. A dealer at a show in Florida talked me into a trade . Junk silver for his palladium. I sit on it forever. Finally I had a chance to sell and made a fifty percent profit. Palladium was in the upper $50.00 range. Less than a year it had increased by another $100..00. I simply didn’t look far enough into it. Live and learn.

  10. cagcrisp says

    @Tom, Shoulda , Wouda, Couda,..

    That’s Easy looking back. I wouldn’t beat myself up too bad. IF you had kept your junk Silver you could have sold for $40+ Also…(OR you Couda held and rode it back down)…

    I don’t ever try to look back on stocks I trade. I make the best decisions I can at the time…

  11. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    I have nickels from all over the place… 5 centimes, 5 centavos, 5 pfennig, etc…. but I like the one from the Philippines the best. It’s from 1915 and minted in the US. One side has United States of America and an eagle on a badge design and the other side has a man with an anvil and a volcano in the background and Filipinas. It’s an interesting coin. They’re fairly common, I guess, but I don’t know of any other coins that feature 2 countries like this. I suppose that British Commonwealth countries do this.

    I really enjoyed the Lewis and Clark Westward Journey nickels from ’04 and ’05. Buffalo nickels are still some of the best designs ever featured. Hobo nickels are pretty nice but the V nickels are simply ok.

    I’m not a fan of the newer Jefferson nickels and the eu nickel isn’t an exception but the eyes on Sacagawea in the EU set are beguiling. I haven’t compared it to the other N/A eu sets yet but I think it’s very nice.

    I think those water spots some people have seen are just air pockets but…. I can’t be certain.

  12. gatortreke says

    Re: the 4 medal set, I plan to buy one. I fully understand that these are medals and the secondary market value is likely to go down (but the future is uncertain so you never know). As I have discussed with my coin buddy, not every purchase decision is made based on what I believe the future value of the coin/medal/set to be.

    I haven’t yet bought the $100 Liberty coin though I hope to by years end. If I have to, I’ll trade one of my 2 2015 high relief Liberty coins for the new one.

    I understand one part of the argument that these are medals and therefore their value is questionable but there is another part of me that wonders why there is any real difference between the medal and a 1 oz ASE when they are both made by the same mint on the same planchets. Yes, I know one has a face value of $1 vs the other being non-denominated but in reality, nobody would ever trade their ASE for $1 so the fact it is denominated has limited value given the other conditions. Maybe this value difference will disappear for future collectors, maybe not, the future is uncertain.

  13. Erik H says

    Just Another Dave In Pa, old Philippines coinage is cool. I like collecting old silver world coins that are made at the different US mints. Lots of WWII stuff. Lots of stuff that used the same planchets as our coinage.

  14. earthling says

    Right now there’s 5,237 of the EU Sets available on the US Mint website. Get em before you don’t care anymore.

  15. Numismatrix says

    Excellent story – I usually pay cash for all my purchases
    which ring under $50, and sort my change. I’ve some
    great coin finds these last few years, including silver
    dimes, fresh old cents, and recently a ’50s nickel. My
    collection began with a 1944-S nickel, a 1944-S dime,
    and a 1935 $1 silver cert – all given to me by my dad.
    To round this out I purchased low grade 1944-S cent,
    quarter, and half. I have these and some other silver
    given to me at banks on request, and change from stores.
    I have yet to get silver quarters in a roll search or in change.

  16. Ridgerunner says

    Just Another Dave In Pa says;
    I have nickels from all over the place… 5 centimes, 5 centavos, 5 pfennig, etc…. but I like the one from the Philippines the best. It’s from 1915 and minted in the US.

    I was stationed in the Philippines in 1973 & 74, while there I picked up some 5 centavos 1914 and the silver 1 peso 1909. I wore the peso with the reverse eagle & shield showing in a belt buckle when I was younger.
    I still have my Jefferson nickel collection from 1938 in the blue Whitman holder. The nickels were the first coins I started collecting.

  17. Tom says

    As a kid nickels were my favorite. Collecting shields, v nickels, loved the buffalo, and of course the very affordable Jefferson. I learned more about full strike while searching for a full step Jefferson. Brings back memories. Thanks.

  18. KCSO says


    Palladium for September delivery rallied $15.95 to $926.15 an ounce, ranging from $917.20 to $932. The close was the highest since early 2001.

    Current Ask – $925

  19. Tom says

    Palladium is AND platinum are hard sellers. A coin of either has to have low, low mintage to carry it.

  20. Just Another Dave In Pa says


    I wasn’t stationed in the PI but I did a couple of WestPacs in ’80 -’83 and stopped at Subic many times and Manila once. . Sometimes just a week and sometimes for over a month for repairs. I still have lots of pesos and yen and baht and shillings. Subic is a whole ‘nother world but once outside Olangapo it was amazing. I once took a bus ride from Subic to Manila. What a trip!…. and the jitneys and little sidecars. Sometimes I wish our public transportation was as good as theirs.

  21. Joe M. says

    Look how much 2009 original bank wrapped nickel rolls are selling for on the bay…
    I missed out on those 🙁

  22. data dave says

    @Joe M. – I was all over the 2009 nickels (in terms of trying to find them) and I never was able to score any rolls. I really wonder where they all ended up. Even the current price is high and I have never seen a lot dumped on the bay. And while it is a low mintage, it is not that low. I have found about 10 Ps and 40 Ds in my search through rolls.

  23. earthling says

    Which way are Proof Buffalos headed? Anyone got a feel for that? A couple months ago I got a 1937 PR65 Buffalo in a PCGS Rattler Holder with a Gold CAC sticker. I really want a 1936 Proof Buffalo but dont really want to blow that amount of cash if the value is dropping like a lead feather. On the other hand you only live once and I suppose a person needs to do whatever will bring them a bit of joy. I do get a kick out of that ’37 Buffalo in the Rattler Holder.

  24. Tom says

    @ earthling. Proof buffalos are much like high grade early commemorative coins. Investors/ collectors steadily selling. Market is becoming saturated, prices dropping. Time to buy is near.

  25. The Kid says

    I was stationed in the Philippines in the sixties.

    Every year they had a beauty contest for the young ladies, something similar to a Miss America, except the winner of the contest needed to raise money to win. Whoever raised the most money at the event, was judged the most beautiful girl. Being in the Navy at the time, I was told that we were not to attend the event and the shore patrol had the place surrounded to keep sailors out, but I managed to sneak in under the large skirt a girlfriend.

    Once inside, I gave my girlfriend a five dollar bill to take up to the stage as a contribution.
    There was a lot of cheers at such a generous gift and eventually my girlfriend won the contest. Unfortunately, the bill I donated was an old U.S. gold note from World War Two that I was trying to save.

    So, Imelda Marcos got the cash, my beautiful girlfriend won the contest and I have a lovely memory that I cherish to this day.

    The Kid.

  26. cagcrisp says

    IF IF IF Bannon is Gone. I can’t Understate how important that is for Markets.

    ALL Markets.

    IF IF IF Cohn Stays, I can’t Understate how important that is for Markets.

    ALL Markets.

    These two men are Polar opposites.

    May not see the results TODAY but this is as important a development as anything I’ve seen in the markets concerning the Possible Success of the Trump agenday…

  27. Ridgerunner says

    @Just Another Dave In Pa
    @The Kid

    I know it’s off topic but I was in Baguio P.I. once and a Nun wanted me to sell or give (CRS) her my Navy ring with the blue starburst stone. I have it still for my son.

  28. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    Thanks for the clarification, Cagcrisp.

    I still wonder if markets are really that wishy-washy. We find things to blame losses on and account for gains.
    Conventional wisdom would have me believe that markets respond (almost in real time) to political happenings.

    Trump won the election and they braced for the worst downturn ever imagined but it never happened.

    The political turmoil we see reported daily seems vastly overstated and just seems like business as usual at the sausage factory. I think a lot of people want to see Trump fail, including most of the media and now, even Breitbart (which is Bannon).

    Of course, there are many things that defy conventional wisdom today. I find it a bit crazy that so many people go to political rallies and espouse white supremacy or anti white-supremacy views. I think too much of it is engineered by the ptb to maintain a false narrative but who knows…. maybe people are as horrible as I’ve always thought.. Maybe herd behavior is the norm for most people. It certainly seems that way even when stacking precious metals. People generally buy when prices are high.

  29. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    @ Ridgerunner and The Kid –

    So many great memories from the PI. Pinoys have such a wonderful espirit de corps.

    This video is the jeepneys and sidecars that fill the streets. It’s hard to explain to someone that hasn’t experienced it.

    I wish I had gone to Baguio. I heard great things about it. I separated in Yokosuka and spent some time in Japan and the Philippines. I gave away a peacoat and crackerjacks and an expeditionary medal which I wish I still had but that’s a long time ago.

    Subic Bay today is a tourist town since the Navy is gone. I suppose the Air force base is gone, too.

    I think a lot of people here are ex-Navy. Sailors are sentimental fools so collecting stuff is in the blood.

  30. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    Tom says “I’m wondering if I need to turn in several Stone Mountain halves to appease the Gods?”

    All these attacks on Confederate symbolism seem orchestrated to fan the flames of hatred on both sides. Every word or picture must be parsed for elements that could be considered racist or sexist or xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic or just outside the boundary of the politically correct firewall that keeps everyone voting within the 2 party system.

    I saw one loser kicking a statue after it was toppled and he is hailed as some kind of hero. It brought back memories of that Saddam statue that was toppled and George Bush declaring “mission accomplished”. Another hollow victory against symbolism.

    Fighting against symbolic representations seems a lot like playing a video game. A waste of time and energy but satisfying on a visceral level, I guess.

    The US Mint has succumbed to the sjws with the new Liberty and Harriet Tubman. The mint deals almost exclusively in symbolism and this is the bone they’re throwing to the sjws who are easily triggered by the symbolism found on many coins.

    I suppose that eliminating physical cash could rid us of a lot of toxic symbolism. That might be a good thing, then.

  31. So Krates says

    Forget the 17RF, the flip of the year is………………………….eclipse glasses!

    Pick em up anywhere from free to two bucks and sell em at $20-$100! Missed your chance? no problem, get ’em ready for 2024.

  32. So Krates says

    Complete attendance numbers for the 2017 World’s Fair of Money

    Total attendance: 8,638
    General public: 4,196
    ANA members: 2,909
    Table-holders/dealers: 1,420
    Staff, volunteers and pages: 113

    Total daily attendance

    Tuesday: 2,840 (returning visitors such as table holders, staff and volunteers are counted in first-day attendance only)
    Wednesday: 1,194
    Thursday: 1,196
    Friday: 1,090
    Saturday: 2,318 (Free Admission)

  33. Tom P. - MA says

    Nickels! Tough to find any now pre 1960. Lately more wheat pennies have been turning up here. Nothing valuable, usually 50’s stuff.

    @JADInPA I agree. OK, the South lost the war. I get it. Removing statues accomplishes nothing. The terminally offended will be just as offended the day after the statues are removed as they were the day before. The racists will be just as racist after removal. The victims will be just as victimized the day after. Completely pointless.

    As far as mint programs go, I have no problem with the new liberty representations. On the other hand, Harriet Tubman? I would actually have to google her, and history is one of my strong points.

  34. says

    Just Another Dave In Pa –

    Hazy grey and underway! Indy & Kitty in Yoko,

    The Air Force pulled out when Mount Pinatubo blew in ’91

  35. The Real "Cool" Brad says

    Just Another Dave In Pa, I find it worse the people who get upset about starbucks Christmas cups, and target having non gendered toy section. In coin related news, I returned a few sets of the eu coins because the cases were crushed in shipping. I have ups tracking showing the date, time, and person who received the sets. Somehow though, a supervisor has to look into this because they aren’t in the system. Fun times dealing with the mint.

  36. RSF says

    The arc of history is starting to bend toward justice, and DT and his torch and pitchfork brigade had better get used to it. The timing and primary motive behind most of the statues was to intimidate a portion of Americans, not to honor the insurrectionists.

    Like the Stone Mtn coins, they are barely worth their melt value. They should appropriately be in museums, not the public square.

    It’s not “pointless” unless you are equating the racists with the victims and the offended. (and you are)

  37. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    Thanks KCSO! We were some underway mf’ers. No carrier but I was on a frigate in the IO in a carrier group with the Kittyhawk and Independence for months at a time.

    I’m pretty sure we steamed right by Mt Pinatubo on the way to Subic Bay.

  38. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    @ RSF – I thought I should address you because I think your view is shared with many on the left who are now in total defiance mode – RESIST – and understandably so, I guess. I voted for Trump (actually I voted against Clinton)

    There are extremists on both sides. Trump took a lot of flak for saying that but he’s right. Sometimes it’s a kook shooting GOP members and sometimes it’s a kook in a car running down people. Who are they?

    I stay away from people with lots of bumper stickers or lots of tattoos…. and guns… and booze.

    I should say that I

    What I find pointless about fighting symbolism is that it does nothing structurally, is a waste of time, resources and money and only serves to escalate tensions for merely symbolic gains. A guy kicking a freaking statue?

    The focus should be on a more broad economic strategy. MLK knew this.

    I think a lot of people search for reasons to get offended and that’s no basis for mutual respect.

  39. Felson says

    I for one find completely ironic that the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against the Southern Heritage statues… since these are mostly statues of Southern Democrats from the 1800’s… They erected the statues to pay tribute to their predecessors and are now in an all out battle to remove them. I guess if you can’t face your past, now is a great time to attempt to remove it from history. People are literally sheep… thinking they can change history today, by attempting to just scrub it from the surface of the earth. I seriously wonder what the history books written in the near future will write about the civil war. This attempt to review history through a modern cultural microscope is not good for anyone.

  40. Tom P. - MA says

    I will stick with my “pointless” comment. Who exactly cared about this last year? It probably numbers in the single digits, possibly even maybe 99.

    Guess what? After the “offensive” statue is removed violence will continue … by both sides.

    Statue removed, nothing of substance accomplished. Pointless.

    Since this is a coin blog, today I picked up a 1944 penny in one of those take one/give one bins. Yesterday I picked up a 2013 Cayman islands penny and a 1975 Canadian nickel at a Coinstar machine.

  41. merryxmasmrscrooge says

    “When I was a kid growing up in my grandmother’s house, silver quarters still turned up occasionally in circulation.”

    That’s strange. Just got back from my tour overseas and I was looking in my mother’s jar of coins just yesterday and in addition to finding the shiny new 2017 Ozark Riverways quarters, I came across two silver quarters, one 1941 the other 1942.
    She must’ve got’em in change within the past month.

  42. Dominic Paulo says

    The mints whole 225th Anniversary celebration was to be kind “underwhelming”. When the penny with the p mint mark was first reported I thought the Mint was going to do things like that all year, but here it is nearing the end of the year and not much is going on except the usual mint offerings. Overpriced offerings at that.

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