When you have a question about U.S. coins, world coins, paper money
or bullion, there is no better place to come than Coin World.
Here's a reader question we answered in our June 9, 2014, issue:
I found a gold 2001 Kentucky State quarter in my piggy bank recently.
I don’t remember the Mint making any gold State quarters, so is
this a real coin?
And how much is this worth?
M.K. Carey, via email
One thing is for sure, the 10-year 50 State Quarters program
introduced many people to the hobby of coin collecting.
Many companies offered novelty items during the time the U.S. Mint
was producing circulating commemorative quarter dollars honoring five
states every year from 1999 to 2008.
Connect with Coin World:
You are correct that the U.S. Mint did not strike gold State
quarters. What you have is a genuine 2001 Kentucky quarter dollar that
was gold-plated by a private company after the coin was placed in
circulation. It is not illegal to alter coins in this way, but it
doesn’t increase value beyond the face value of 25 cents.
These gold-plated pieces were often sold as souvenirs or gifts. Some
were even sold as “investments” to unsuspecting noncollectors.
The fact of the matter is that it would cost more to recover the
gold used to plate such coins than the gold is worth.
These gold-plated State quarter dollars are in the same category as
State quarters that are painted or enameled or those bearing removable
stickers — they are altered coins. They possess little to no
numismatic premium beyond their face value. Some collectors appreciate
coins that have been altered in this manner; others do not.
For those who like them, if the price is not ridiculous, there is no
reason not to collect them, remembering that the “alteration” does not
add any value.
Frequently, sellers on eBay and other online marketplaces offer
gold-plated and painted State quarters and other denominations.
Several dealers are currently selling gold-plated State quarter
dollars for $2 to $3 a piece.
When these altered coins were first offered, the U.S. Mint placed a
statement on its Consumer Alerts page at The U.S. Mint's
website clarifying its position on plated or painted coins:
“The United States Mint has never produced or sold colorized coins
or gold- or silver-plated coins. However, many businesses purchase
genuine United States coins and then plate them in a thin layer of
gold or silver or use a variety of methods to ‘colorize’ the coins.
The most common colorization techniques involve painting an enamel
finish on the coin or applying a holographic or superimposed image to