General Question

lapilofu's avatar

How many U.S. quarters exist?

Asked by lapilofu (4325points) October 13th, 2008

Just curious.

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9 Answers

squirbel's avatar

A quarter million?



dalepetrie's avatar

Are you wondering…

1) how many quarters total are in circulation?
2) how many varieties of quarters have been made?
3) how many of each quarter was minted?
4) how many varieties of quarters are currently in use?
5) how many different state quarters there are?
6) something else?

Please clarify and I’ll enlighten you..

lapilofu's avatar

I’m wondering “1) how many quarters total are in circulation?”

Magnus's avatar

I’m wondering 6. :)

dalepetrie's avatar

OK, well, I’m not sure there’s an answer to that question per se, but I’ll do my best to enlighten you and make an educated guess.

First thing’s first. As of right now they are still producing Alaska state quarters (the 49th of the 50 state quarters), so mintage figures are not yet available. The best guesstimate will be between 400 and 500 million of these are currently in circulation.

And mintage numbers are where I think you have to start. But you don’t really have to look at how many quarters were EVER minted, but I’d start with the 1965 quarters. I won’t bore you with the details of how many of each quarter was minted each year, I’ll just use an estimate of 450,000,000 Alaska quarters, and I’ll come up with 71,572,912,519 (give or take 50 million) quarters that have been minted since 1965. Why 1965? Well, because up until 1964, quarters were minted in silver, not the nickel clad versions we have today (silver just got too expensive). And because the melt value of these has for 45 years or more been worth far more than a quarter, pretty much all that still exist were pulled out by collectors and exist in coin shops and the hands of collectors, so they are not to be considered “in circulation”.

Now, to figure out how many are in circulation, you have to know the answers to the following questions:

1) How many have been destroyed?
2) How many have been pulled out of circulation by collectors?

This is what makes the question impossible to answer. My guess would be that the state quarters are more highly collected than the previously released quarters, the whole point of the program is to build interest in coin collecting, after all. I’ve also read that the interest has waned over the years, with the first few years of the state quarter progarm being most highly collected. Of course if there are errors in the striking of a coin, most of those would get pulled from circulation as collectors find them, and you could find out exactly how many “error” quarters there have been, but it’s fairly minimal, probably less than a million since 1965, so I’d say that would be time wasted. And some people would have started collecting the pre-state quarters when the state quarters came out (I collect both). I’m not aware of the mint “recalling” any quarters they way they do with bills (when old, torn and tattered bills come through the banking system, when they end up shredding the paper money and putting more in circulation to replace it). So few coins would have been destroyed.

Some however end up in old coffee cans, forgotten about…maybe grandma dies and her change she’s been collecting in a jar in her closet doesn’t get turned in for a few years…that kind of thing.

I’d say, your guess is as good as mine as to how many were destroyed or pulled out, I’m going to say the vast majority are still out there, probably less than 10% are in collections our destroyed…just a gut instinct because I know that not that many people actually collect coins…maybe a few million people are collecting the state quarters, and each collector maybe has a couple hundred on average, that’s a couple billion or so.

I’m gonna go with about 65 billion.

lapilofu's avatar

Quite possibly the best answer I have ever received on Fluther. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

fireside's avatar

I have two that were run over by a train, if that helps with the calculation.

dalepetrie's avatar

lapilofu – thank you for the props! I’m just sorry I couldn’t give you a definitive answer…but I feel good about that one nonetheless!

trumi's avatar

I swallowed a dime the other day. Which is a pretty solid investment these days….

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