Those familiar with current American coinage know that the United States Mint in 2010 started issuing a brand new series of National Park Quarters and other site quarters through its America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. This lineup came on the heels of the extremely popular 50 State Quarters® Program and its follow-up the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarter series.
What many do not know is where to get new National Park Quarters. Finding the quarters in circulation has proven to be a challenge owing in large part to the U.S. economy which has needed for fewer new coins since the recession. To aid in that dilemma, a list of viable sources to get national park quarters is offered below. But first, a little background.
The new America the Beautiful Quarters series is operated in a fashion very similar to the previous quarters programs where several newly designed quarters are issued annually. However, where the previous programs featured reverse designs emblematic of the honored state or territory in general, the new coins contain reverse designs emblematic of a specific site within each of those jurisdictions. The chosen sites were required to be under federal control and feature locations such as national parks, national forests, and national monuments.
Authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which became Public Law 110-456 (see quarters legislation), this new series has already seen several rounds of releases by the U.S. Mint. For 2010, the debuting five quarters included the Hot Springs National Park Quarter representing Arkansas, the Yellowstone National Park Quarter representing Wyoming, the Yosemite National Park Quarter representing California, the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter representing Arizona, and the Mount Hood National Forest Quarter for Oregon. (See the quarters release schedule for a complete list of the selected sites and their year of issue.)
With the first almost two dozen coins already in circulation, one might assume that it would be easy to find them in your pocket-change. That assumption would, for the most part, be wrong. For example, the total mintage for each of the first four National Park Quarters issued averaged less than 70.3 million strikes. While that may seem like a lot, it is low in comparison to the previous programs. The average 50-State Quarters mintage stood at 695.952 million, with the lowest being 416.6 million from Oklahoma.
The Mint at one time claimed that 147 million people collected the 50-State Quarters. Given the mintages seen in the debut strikes of the new series, not even half that number would be able to assemble a complete set.
Where to Find or Get National Park Quarters
So where can collectors or coin enthusiasts obtain the new National Park Quarters? Consider one of these options:
U.S. Mint Direct Collector Purchases
The easiest (but perhaps not the cheapest) way to insure you have a complete set of the coins is to purchase them directly from the U.S. Mint. To that end, the Mint actually has several different products available to the buying public, and that does not even include their special annual Proof or Uncirculated Mint Sets produced specifically for coin collectors that also contains other denominations.
The least expensive Mint product will be the America the Beautiful Quarters Circulating Coin Set™. It contains one Denver and one Philadelphia circulation quality quarter of each of the five releases for the year, for a total of ten quarter-dollars. The set is currently listed at $5.95.
Offered as the next least expensive option is a America the Beautiful Quarters Three-Coin Set™ containing one uncirculated Denver Quarter, one uncirculated Philadelphia Quarter and one Proof San Francisco Quarter. A different set is planned for each of the National Park Quarters and currently sells for $9.95 per unit.
Those desiring a set with each of the five quarters for the year from both the Denver and Philadelphia Mint’s, but in uncirculated quality, can consider the America the Beautiful Quarters Uncirculated Coin Set™. It contains just that and sells for $12.95 currently.
Two-Roll Sets of the park quarters are available and currently sell for $32.95 per design. Each set contains one roll of forty circulation quality strikes from the U.S. Mint’s facility in Denver and one roll of forty circulation quality strikes from the U.S. Mint’s facility in Philadelphia.
In 2012, the U.S. Mint began offering single rolls of San Francisco struck National Park Quarters in circulating quality for $18.95 per design. These are made solely for coin collectors since none are made for circulation release.
Also, there are three-roll sets of Denver-, Philadelphia- and San Francisco-produced quarters in circulating quality for $46.95 per design.
Finally, the Mint offers 100-coin bags of National Park Quarters which are selling for $34.95 per design. Each bag contains the buyers choice of 100 circulation quality coins from Philadelphia or 100 circulation quality coins from Denver.
Of course, the Mint’s annual coin sets are always an option as well to obtain the coins in other qualities. This would include the U.S. Mint’s Proof Set, the Silver Proof Set or the Uncirculated Mint Set priced at $31.95, $53.95, and $27.95, respectively. The Mint also offers annual sets containing just the quarter-dollars in the America the Beautiful Quarters Proof Set for $14.95, or the America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set for $31.95. For any of the above products, visit the U.S. Mint website at http://catalog.usmint.gov/.
As a note, the U.S. Mint also offers a subscription service for each of the previously mentioned options. That enables collectors to sign up and receive the selected product automatically without having to place an order each time a new National Park Quarter is released.
National Park Quarter Launch Ceremonies
For individuals attending one of the National Park Quarter release ceremonies, an exchange is typically offered following the ceremony. This allows individuals the ability to swap cash for rolls of the new strikes, usually up to ten rolls per person. Children who attend are even given one of the new coins free of charge, just for being there.
Specific information on the release ceremonies can be obtained from the U.S. Mint usually a few weeks before they occur. Enterprising individuals have even taken the step to have those rolls postmarked following the ceremony, adding extra value to them.
U.S. Mint Coin Dispensing Locations
Several U.S. Mint locations have special coin dispensing machines which are stocked with the newest quarter issues. The coins are typically available beginning at noon on the day of the coin’s release and are offered until the next quarter dollar is issued.
U.S. Mint Bulk Purchase Program
Financially out of the reach of most collectors, but an option nonetheless is the U.S. Mint’s Bulk Purchase Program being offered for the America the Beautiful Quarters. Under the program, bags of 200,000 circulation quality quarters with a face value of $50,000 are available directly from either the U.S. Mint’s facility in Denver or the U.S. Mint’s facility in Philadelphia.
The Mint will add a processing fee of $1,500 per order. This charge does not include shipping which must be arranged and paid for by the buyer with a properly licensed commercial carrier.
While not always the cheapest option, the secondary market can always be counted on as a source for National Park Quarters. This includes coin dealers, mass marketers and online auction sites. Keep in mind that these sources undoubtedly already paid a premium of some sort to obtain the coins, and will compound that premium with an additional charge of their own.
Still, the secondary market is always a viable option and offers the buyers the flexibility of obtaining the specific coins they want in the specific quantities they desire. Plus, it is a way to catch up with quarters that have missed.
Banks and Financial Institutions
Your local bank can not be ruled out as a possible source, although they are much less likely to have them than under previous quarter programs. With the 50-State Quarters Program, these institutions were allowed to order unmixed quantities of the new quarters directly from the Federal Reserve. However, this is no longer an option under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
The new coins are shipped to meet transactional demand, and banks will not know which specific designs they will be receiving. Still, that teller may just have the coin you need.
With such a low mintage, the odds of obtaining a complete collection of the National Park Quarters in your pocket-change is extremely unlikely. However, millions of the coins are in circulation, so taking a few moments to flip through your coins is a good option. It might save you some hassle and expense!