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An experiment


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This thought occurred to me today as I sifted through my change drawer at work. Whenever I cashier at my job, I handle roughly $4 worth of nickels per day, which contains an average of 3-6 1964 nickels; most of them 1964-D. As I handed one back to a customer, I noticed her eyes light up a bit as she mentioned something about all 1964 coins being silver. I gave her a very brief lesson about that coin, which seemed to baffle her.

 

But, as I continued with my job, I began thinking. There are a large number of coins which the general public considers "rare" which ultimately are not. Here are some of the top that I've noticed:

 

1. Bicentennial quarters/half dollars

2. Dollar coins

3. 1964 nickels

4. 1970-S nickels

5. "Westward Journey" nickels

 

I started initially by handing out dollar coins periodically through my work. People were generally shocked and confused. What kind of idiot cashier would GIVE these things away? More recently, I have been handing out half dollars en masse. People seem to think that every one made before 1990 is 90% silver, and I have overheard many conversations along the lines of "Look honey! That stupid cashier gave me a silver half dollar!" as the husband proudly holds up a heavily battered 1972-D half dollar.

 

That got me thinking... what would happen if I did the same with coins that are not difficult to find, but are generally considered rare? If I deposited or spent two or three rolls of 1970-S nickels in very clearly marked rolls, what would come of them?

 

I don't think it would be practical to gather 40 bicentennial quarters from circulation to spend, but I think I might give it a shot with some of the more common nickels. The main question is, where do I spend them to raise maximum curiosity?

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I love when spending the dollar slugs with the Presidents mugs, the reactions that range from "why the h#ll are you giving me Canadian money?" to "wow, how could you spend this? They were selling them on QVC for $19.95 eaches..."

 

Actually I save all S mint coins I can find in circulation, it has been 30 years since they minted the Agony dollars there, and 36 years since cents. I know they are not valuable, but S is one of my favourite mints after CC.

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I don't think it would be practical to gather 40 bicentennial quarters from circulation to spend, but I think I might give it a shot with some of the more common nickels. The main question is, where do I spend them to raise maximum curiosity?

The best place? Anywhere. A couple years ago, I paid for a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons with three half dollars, only to have the casher try to give two of them back because "oh, these are two dollar coins!"

 

So I'd say you want to spend them at the places where they hire people because they're cheap, not because they actually have a skill set. :)

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I don't blame the employees for not being familiar with halves and dollar coins $2 bills etc. I blame the managers and the franchises that should educate their workers. In fact outside of a few banks that publish pamphlets for their employees, few other businesses educate their employees on circulating coinage. Oh yes I have handed halves to cashiers and had them ask if it was a dollar, but they are not coin collectors and frankly there is no way for them to even know the coins exist save the few times they turn up in circulation.

 

Today in the bank I do business with I asked if they had any large sized dollars, expecting the usual, yes we have the new presidents, but no this cashier surprised me with what I was really hoping for - Ikes - 228 of them.

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Today in the bank I do business with I asked if they had any large sized dollars, expecting the usual, yes we have the new presidents, but no this cashier surprised me with what I was really hoping for - Ikes - 228 of them.

 

I was actually thinking about that earlier today... I would love to get my hands on some Ike dollars, since I only have two very battered ones that my parents gave me when I was younger. I am going to ask if it would be possible to order Ike dollars when I take my next trip to the bank, but before I do, is it even worth it? I know they are darn near impossible to find, so they might be worth a bit more, but I also know that they would be darn near impossible to get rid of.

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Ikes are a fairly scarce find nowadays, banks won't be able to order them because the Fed doesn't stock them - only those slugs that have been made off and on since 1979, then recoloured in 2000.

 

It is a bit like hitting the lottery to find even one of them in a bank. The cool thing about these yesterday was that both of the tellers working in that branch knew what they were - and were pleased as punch to get rid of them because coins like that are a hassle when you are continually having to count them at the end of the day closing.

 

That said, I have managed to accumulate about 1000 or more of them over the past few years.

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...I paid for a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons with three half dollars, only to have the casher try to give two of them back because "oh, these are two dollar coins!"

 

AND

 

Oh yes I have handed halves to cashiers and had them ask if it was a dollar.

 

 

Sine half dollars actually say 'HALF DOLLAR' on them, you'd think it'd be a pretty big hint really.

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I don't blame the employees for not being familiar with halves and dollar coins $2 bills etc. I blame the managers and the franchises that should educate their workers. In fact outside of a few banks that publish pamphlets for their employees, few other businesses educate their employees on circulating coinage. Oh yes I have handed halves to cashiers and had them ask if it was a dollar, but they are not coin collectors and frankly there is no way for them to even know the coins exist save the few times they turn up in circulation.

True enough, but if presented with an unfamiliar coin, it seems reasonable to me to see if there's a denomination on it rather than take a stranger's word for it, or just make a guess -- especially since, having been one early in my working life, I know cashiers are responsible if the till is off at the end of the shift. I suppose I can forgive not recognizing the profile of a president nearly fifty years in the past*, but it's not like 'HALF DOLLAR' is printed on it in a non-Roman alphabet or a foreign language. It's simple common sense, not education.

 

 


* Inasmuch as I was born two weeks before the assassination, stating a time frame of that order pains me greatly... :yuk:

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Before I knew anything about US coins and when i'd only been interested in my native currency for a few months, my father gave me a tin full of old coins from all over the world. In it was a 1953 Franklin half, and you know even I (a child of 6) could work out which country it was from and what denomination it was!

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It seems like cashiers are somewhat divided into two camps, either they know right away what it is (like the postal clerk yesterday when I handed her a half and she knew exactly what it was and took out 2 quarters from her pocket to buy it for her kids), or they have no clue and seem absolutely helpless to find out, (they look at it, look at you, look at the coin again, then ask, "is this a dollar?" then I usually tell them something like "it says right on the coin what it is" then the blank stare again, then I lose patience and tell them). I think it has a lot to do with how we teach kids about money. I remember when I was a kid, and they taught you about money, and they just taught by color and size, there was never any discussion of the values being written on the coins. So you know the small brown ones are pennies, the smaller silver-colored ones are dimes, a little larger is a nickel and still a little larger is a quarter. Anything outside those 4 shape-color combos is a complete mystery...

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It seems like cashiers are somewhat divided into two camps, either they know right away what it is (like the postal clerk yesterday when I handed her a half and she knew exactly what it was and took out 2 quarters from her pocket to buy it for her kids), or they have no clue and seem absolutely helpless to find out, (they look at it, look at you, look at the coin again, then ask, "is this a dollar?" then I usually tell them something like "it says right on the coin what it is" then the blank stare again, then I lose patience and tell them). I think it has a lot to do with how we teach kids about money. I remember when I was a kid, and they taught you about money, and they just taught by color and size, there was never any discussion of the values being written on the coins. So you know the small brown ones are pennies, the smaller silver-colored ones are dimes, a little larger is a nickel and still a little larger is a quarter. Anything outside those 4 shape-color combos is a complete mystery...

I think if some cashier were to give me a blank stare after being told "it says right there on the coin", there would be two immediate follow-on events. The first would be to take my money back and my business elsewhere; the second would be to tell the manager exactly why I was doing so. I don't expect a cashier to be able to do partial differentials, but it's not too much to ask that they can read and perform basic addition and subtraction.

 

Even the math part is optional since the register will do the totting up for them and let them know that the $5.13 I just put down was not a mistake on that $4.38 sale -- three quarters will do nicely for change, thank you (I've had them push the loose change back at me, and I always push it right back and invite them to do the math, or at least to ring it up and see what the register says).

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is that same problem with many of our monitary system items. A $2 bill could end up having you arrested for trying to pass off a fake bill. I purposely try spending as many half dollars as I can get from the banks just to see the look on people's faces. Some stare at them as if they were going to explode. Others say WOW, this is really worth a lot of money. AND I've had some refuse them as no such thing. At a restaurant I left several of those baby dollars on the table for a tip. The waitress said rather loudly, "Sir, you left some of your kids play money on the table"

Where I live we use a commuter train a lot and non of the conductors want those baby dollars since thier coin changers have no place for them. Most stores also don't want them since most cash registers have no place for them and the same with half dollars. Someone I know runs a vending machine company and he hates those baby dollars since non of his machines take them but people keep on trying to use them and they just jam his machines. Many banks keep trying to ask people if they want those baby dollars and most say NO. Our government just refuses to realize what people want and don't want.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This week I bought several slightly damaged Indian cents and Buffalo nickels to spend around town. When you pay 12.5 cents each, not much to lose on the deal. Probably start giving them out in change tomorrow.

I've done that too. Yes it is really fun to watch what people say or do when they see a coin that just couldn't still be left on Earth. I used to like to spend the 1943 Lincoln Cent but got way to many people refusing them as fakes.

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Neat idea. It's always baffled me how the public has such misconceptions about coins and precious metals. I'd say a good 30% of the time when I'm talking precious metals, someone pips up with "yeah copper is so valuable!". I suppose $4/lb isn't so bad, but when I try to explain how silver is $20+ per OUNCE they seem to just dismiss that thought.

 

I suppose they are just comfortable with what they know, it does often seem to be the blue collar guys who know of people making money "acquiring" copper piping/wire and such from jobs. Silver and gold aren't even on their radar. I think it's safe to say we aren't yet at the mania phase of a silver or gold bubble :)

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  • 3 months later...

Well, I'm almost done with my ultimate goal! As of today, I have 38 1964-D nickels in a roll very clearly marked in sharpie. I showed it to some of my friends who are somewhat interested in coins, and the general reaction was roughly "Oh my gosh! Is that roll *ALL* from 1964? Where did you get them?!?!"

 

I think this will be fun.

 

Also, I have begun spreading $2 bills around through my register, in addition to the occasional half dollar and dollar coin. I've had a grand total of three customers refuse the half dollars, mostly because they didn't want to keep it or have to spend it later. Nobody has complained about the $2 bills. One customer actually requested one of each unusual denomination so that she could teach her daughter to recognize the different kinds of U.S. currency with some hands-on experience.

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What most of us all don't realize is that there is a constant increase in the ignorance of our monitary system completely. By that I mean less and less people use money at all anymore. Even back several years ago my Son in college never used cash for much at all. I paid in advance for room and tuition. His food was a thing called a something or other plan where the kids just carried a plastic card, sort of a credit type card, and got whatever they wanted in food using that card. So bsically he really didn't need cash. After college he also showed me how he became used to not using cash for anything. At gas stations, stores, restaurants, anywhere, he would just us a credit card. He mentioned he has not used more than a few dollars in cash in several years now.

Many others no longer us cash either. Cash is eventually going to fade away. Intercontinental trading will negotiate the necessity to have most transactions done via computer. This will be necessary due to the different monitary systems now in place all over the world. Think of this. If you now go to a different country, you must try to learn their monitary system. BUT if all is done by computer, all you need is a plastic card. The computers will do all the work of figuring out what you paid.

If you don't believe this, look around at how many people already only use plastic.

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What most of us all don't realize is that there is a constant increase in the ignorance of our monitary system completely. By that I mean less and less people use money at all anymore. Even back several years ago my Son in college never used cash for much at all. I paid in advance for room and tuition. His food was a thing called a something or other plan where the kids just carried a plastic card, sort of a credit type card, and got whatever they wanted in food using that card. So bsically he really didn't need cash. After college he also showed me how he became used to not using cash for anything. At gas stations, stores, restaurants, anywhere, he would just us a credit card. He mentioned he has not used more than a few dollars in cash in several years now.

Many others no longer us cash either. Cash is eventually going to fade away. Intercontinental trading will negotiate the necessity to have most transactions done via computer. This will be necessary due to the different monitary systems now in place all over the world. Think of this. If you now go to a different country, you must try to learn their monitary system. BUT if all is done by computer, all you need is a plastic card. The computers will do all the work of figuring out what you paid.

If you don't believe this, look around at how many people already only use plastic.

It's a little different in Europe. I live in Zurich -- in almost every other country than the USA, transactions of $200-$300 or less are done either with direct bank debit cards, or in cash ... mostly cash, though. People have credit cards, and use them of course, but not like they do in the USA.

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Fun topic. Working at a bank I ask all the teller to let me know when they get the Ike Dollars, then I buy them all up and put them in my friends antique store for $2 each. Sold about 100 of em so far.

 

It was similar to the OP post, I had a bagful of these and said to my friend, let me put these in your shop to see what happens. No way i thought people would buy these for $2 each, but they are. May have to raise the price :)

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As someone who first got interested in numismatics because someone spent a Morgan back when I was a cashier, I wholeheartedly support these antics. :bthumbsup:

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