In conjunction with my attendance and coverage of the 2009 Lincoln Cent Presidency design launch ceremony, I went to the U.S. Mint’s offices in Washington, D.C. While I was waiting between trips through the cent roll exchange line, I used their “bill breaker” machines to get the latest releases for the Presidential Dollar series (James Polk) and DC/Territories Quarters series (U.S. Virgin Islands).
When I returned home, I examined the coins and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were quarters from both the Philadelphia and Denver mints dispensed from the machine. Usually, only a single mint’s quarters are put in the machine. Upon further investigation, I was doubly surprised to see the coins had two different finishes.
All of the quarters from the Philadelphia mint looked like the quarters in the uncirculated Mint Set, which feature a satin finish. The quarters from the Denver mint had a shiny proof-like surface. I checked these coins against this year’s Mint Set and quarters I had previously obtained from the same dispensers during the Professional Life cent roll exchange. Sure enough, the finishes on the Philadelphia coins matched the Mint Set, and the Denver coins matched the other quarters.
I do not think the Mint intended to do this. They had been reserving the satin finish coins for the Mint Sets since their introduction in 2005, so their inclusion in the machines would potentially make their counterparts in the full set less rare. Conversely, if someone was just interested in collecting quarters, having the ability to get the satin finish quarters from a source other than buying the full Mint Set would be an attractive option.
Les Peters publishes a coin blog titled Tales of a Lifelong Coin Collector that describes his experiences related to collecting coins.