What are State Quarters Worth?

various fifty State quarters

 James Bucki

Despite the United States Mint manufacturing the 50 State Quarters by the hundreds of millions of coins, the venerable statehood quarters program is one of the most collected coin series in U.S. coin history. The U.S. Treasury Department occasionally states in press releases that 140 million Americans collected the 50 State Quarters. Additionally, the Treasury Department coordinated with the Federal Reserve Bank to allow individual banks to order boxes of specific state quarters. This made it extremely easy to flood the market with these brand-new coins.

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. Given these numbers, it makes one wonder if they were truly 140 million people collecting them.

Are There 140 Million People Collecting State Quarters?

The Treasury Department's estimate of 140 million State Quarter collectors seems suspect. This figure probably includes everybody who ever put away one coin from the state that they live in or something similar, but the point is that 50 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 the question, "What are State Quarters worth?"

What Are State Quarters Worth Now?

There are two 50 State Quarter value charts, one for single coins, and one for rolls of 40 coins (the standard $10 roll of quarters). As in all of the coin value guides, these values are actual dollar amounts that coin dealers will pay you for your coins. The charts also contain retail prices if you would like to purchase individual coins or coin rolls.

What Will State Quarters Be Worth in the Future?

The second half of the answer to the 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 the economy goes sour, the vast majority of those people are going to suddenly flood our economy with all those $10 rolls of quarters. The demand for coins will further be reduced by all the dollar coins and other assorted spare change that folks have lying around the house returning to circulation.

Two things might happen 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. Couple this with the effect of a declining economy, the common citizen will not have the disposable income to purchase coins at a numismatic premium.

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, 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 the coin dealers will absorb the majority of them, at least for the medium term, partially to protect their investments in this area. This activity is not to be misunderstood nor implied that there is collusion or price fixing among coin dealers. However, coin dealers realizing that the market is flooded with Fifty State Quarters, have been liquidating their inventory or declining to buy these quarters from the public.

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 extremely low 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 ended 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 in 2009. As the State Quarter program ended, and the final State Quarter was released for Hawaii, many coin experts expected that all State Quarters would rise sharply in value. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and many of them are trading at or near face value.

Edited by: James Bucki