US Coins

Tips for finding coin rolls

Having trouble getting rolls from banks? Bill O’Rourke of Coin World’s “Found in Rolls” column offers some helpful hints for frustrated coin roll searchers who want to search through rolls of cents and other denominations.

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I’m a Lincoln cent collector and I recently got back into searching coin rolls. My area banks refuse to give me more than a few dollars worth at a time, even if I have an account. Nobody seems willing to place orders for you anymore. Do you have any suggestions?

Charles Mitchell

Washington, D.C.

Bill O’Rourke, who writes Coin World’s weekly “Found in Rolls” column, graciously provides a number of tips for would-be roll searchers, such as Mr. Mitchell.

O’Rourke suggests establishing accounts at more than one bank or financial institution, then buying rolled coins at one bank and getting rid of the rolls at another bank.

“I have a ‘free’ checking account set up at a few banks so I can pick rolls up from one and drop them off at another,” O’Rourke says.

The reticence many banks have dealing with collectors is because rolled coins incur costs above their face value. For that reason, banks often view the coming and going of rolled coins via collectors as a waste of their time and resources.

O’Rourke says: “Banks and credit unions use counting companies like Brinks, Garda and Wells Fargo to provide them with coins, and the average shipping cost can be as much as $2 to $3 per box. Some banks don’t want to take on that extra cost just so ‘roll searchers’ like us can ‘play.’ In the overall scheme of things, as much as we believe that a bank is there to provide us with coins or cash, that is not really their purpose.”

As well, O’Rourke suggests doing banks a favor by taking excess coins off their hands.

“One time I was waved into a bank branch in a supermarket where a good customer of theirs dropped off a big pile of half dollars,” O’Rourke says. “Banks don’t like halves, so I did them a favor. Silver was everywhere in those rolls.”

O’Rourke encourages roll searchers to become friendly with their local bank employees, even so far as to ask the bank to call if someone drops off a large number of rolled coins.

“One of the banks I use will actually call me if a customer drops off an unusually large amount of coins, mostly unsearched,” he says. “If I pick up the excess coins, I am doing that bank a favor by saving them shipping costs.”

One way to become friendly, he says, is to take an online or phone survey about a recent transaction made at the bank. “Some banks take these surveys very seriously to the point of even asking for a teller’s first name,” he says.

Until a relationship with a bank is established, O’Rourke says hobbyists should content themselves with a few rolls here and there.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from staff member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 274.

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