Something that I’ve noticed over the past year is an increasing
number of dealers offering coins by the roll.
The increasing availability of rolls is in large part due to the
rise in silver prices, leading to an increase in the breaking up of
original modern Proof sets.
But it is also due to an increasing number of collections and
accumulations of coins entering the market as sellers were enticed by
the recent increases in the precious metal market.
As many original modern Proof sets are broken up to get to the
silver coins, dealers are often left with quantities of coins of a
single issue that they need to move.
Take, for example, a 2007-S Silver Proof set. It contains five
State quarter dollars, along with a silver half dollar and dime. When
silver was nearing $50 an ounce at the end of April, the silver value
for the seven silver coins exceeded the set’s wholesale value by
several dollars. The set also has the cent and 5-cent coin, plus four
Presidential dollars and a Sacagawea dollar, representing more than $5
in face value. What to do with the nonsilver Proof coins once you’ve
sent the silver coins away? Sell them in rolls cheaply! Several
dealers in Coin World are advertising Proof Presidential
dollar rolls at just $2.50 per coin.
The roll craze hit the hobby hard in the 1960s as coin shops
popped up around the country and rolls of Uncirculated coins created a
speculative bubble that eventually popped.
Perhaps better than any other coin, the 1950-D Jefferson 5-cent
coin represents the roll craze. Most of its original mintage of
2,630,030 pieces did not enter circulation and almost the entire
mintage remains available to collectors.
At the height of the roll craze in the mid-1960s, a roll of 40
moved in price from $40 a roll to $1,200 a roll within a short course
of time. The market came to its senses and prices declined quickly.
Today a roll of 1950-D 5-cent coins can be found for less than $400.
As Al Doyle wrote in a 2005 article addressing rolls in Coin
World: “The well-known coin also was the poster child for the
train wreck that took place when this market bubble exploded.”
Thankfully for collectors, modern Proof coins by the roll are more
affordable than ever as the market is absorbing many modern Proof
coins, normally only found in sets. Modern Proof coins are also coming
to the market as singles.
Further, as more baby boomers bring their collections — and their
parent’s collections — to coin shops around the country to sell,
reminders of the coin roll craze of the 1960s are present in the
dozens of rolls that are present in many old-time accumulations. As
these older rolls enter inventories, collecting modern coins by the
roll becomes increasingly accessible.
Steven Roach is associate editor of Coin World. Email him