Found in Rolls column from the Nov. 14, 2016, weekly issue of
Who would think that there could be something controversial about
the simple act of searching through rolls of coins in order to find
collectibles? By way of parodying the opening phrase of a soliloquy in
the “Nunnery Scene” of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, a reader
ponders “Circulated or Uncirculated? That is the question.”
The general definition of the term “circulated,” when used to label
a coin, describes a coin that has entered the stream of commerce after
having been issued for general circulation by a minting authority.
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For many, then, a coin defined as Uncirculated is, of course, one
that has not entered the stream of general circulation. Such a coin
would be one that was issued and perhaps packaged as part of an
Uncirculated Mint Set offered for sale by a minting authority.
Since roll searching involves looking through coins that, obviously,
have been placed into circulation, must it follow that those coins,
which have been issued by a Mint, delivered to and processed by coin
counting and distributing companies and subsequently delivered to
various banks, must be circulated? Well, not necessarily!
Take the group of coins I recently discovered in rolls during my
searches and tell me what you think. Examine the 1959 Lincoln cent,
the 1958-D Jefferson 5-cent coin and the 1964 Kennedy half dollar
closely. Are they circulated, because they were found in bank rolls or
Uncirculated, because they look, well, Uncirculated?
Enter our modern grading system where the status of a coin as
circulated or Uncirculated depends solely on a coin’s state of
preservation while having little or nothing to do with where the coin
With our current and commonly used system of grading coins, Mint
State 60 is the minimum grade a coin needs to achieve in order to call
a coin Uncirculated. It is easy to see that each of these coins would
easily grade MS-60 or better. Set apart from the activity of roll
searching, these three coins, exhibiting no signs of circulation wear,
could not be told apart from coins that have been separated from U.S.
Mint Uncirculated sets.
So even though these coins are circulated, they are also
Uncirculated at the same time! For me, if a coin looks Uncirculated
then it is Uncirculated, whether or not it was “Found In Rolls!”
Please share your thoughts and comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @foundinrollscw.
U.S. coins mentioned in this article:
dollar: The shot heard around the world in 1963, a bullet
from an assassin's weapon that ended the life of U.S. President John
F. Kennedy, is still remembered on the annually produced half dollar
struck in his honor since 1964. How much are
Kennedy half dollars worth?
5-cent: If one word sums up the Jefferson 5-cent coin, it
would be "change" because throughout its storied history
it has endured many changes. How much are
Jefferson 5-cents worth?
cent: The popular Lincoln cent has gone through several
reverse updates since it was introduced in 1909 to honor the
nation's 16th president on the 100th anniversary of his birth. How much are
Lincoln cents worth?