The San Francisco Mint is striking circulation-quality 2012 America
the Beautiful quarter dollars with S Mint marks. They won’t be
released into circulation, but sold to collectors in bags and rolls at
a numismatic premium.
Sales began June 21.
This is certainly not the first time that the U.S. Mint has struck
noncirculating versions of circulating coins at a branch Mint solely
to appeal to collectors.
Probably the most curious of these issues is the 1996-W Roosevelt
dime struck at the West Point Mint. To mark the 50th anniversary of
the Roosevelt dime, which first went into circulation in 1946, dimes
were struck at the West Point Mint with the facility’s W Mint mark.
A single example was included in each 1996 Uncirculated Mint set.
While Mint sets traditionally included an example of each coin struck
for circulation, here a quasi-commemorative issue was included.
An ulterior motive for including this coin was simply to boost
sales of Mint sets to collectors — and it succeeded, increasing sales
almost 50 percent. Nearly 1.5 million 1996 Uncirculated Mint sets were
sold, compared to only 1 million sets in preceding years.
The 1996-W Roosevelt dime is in many ways anomalous. To start
with, it is the only version of a circulation-quality coin ever struck
with a W Mint mark.
It’s also one of only two copper-nickel clad coins that have a W
Mint mark. Trivia buffs take note: The only other is the 1993-W James
Madison, Bill of Rights commemorative half dollar.
The 1996-W dime has a mintage of 1,450,440 pieces, by far the
lowest mintage of all circulation-strike coins in the entire Roosevelt
dime series. Even the famed low-mintage issue, the 1949-S Roosevelt
dime, has a mintage of 13.5 million pieces.
While the 1996-W Roosevelt dime is a low-mintage standout, it’s
also very available to collectors. All pieces remain in choice to gem
Uncirculated condition or better and the number of coins surviving
from the original issue is essentially 100 percent.
In fact, the 1996 Uncirculated Mint set that includes this coin
was originally sold for $8 and can still be bought for around $17.
Other similar issues of Uncirculated Mint sets issued in prior and
following years still trade for their issue price of $8 — putting the
basal value of this 1996-W coin at less than $10.
In the highest grades, however, it’s a different story. Somewhat
elusive examples grading Mint State 68 FT command more than $100. FT
denotes “Full Torch,” meaning that the bands holding the torch
together on the coin’s reverse are fully defined, an attribute that
merits a premium in the marketplace.
Scott schechter is a grader at NGC and co-author of 100
Greatest U.S. Modern Coins. He can be reached by email directed
to him at email@example.com.