HomeUS CoinsSensational Claims About the Bicentennial Quarter Proliferate Online

Sensational Claims About the Bicentennial Quarter Proliferate Online

Another fish story? Bicentennial quarter dollars are purportedly worth millions according to some websites.
Another fish story? Bicentennial quarter dollars are purportedly worth millions according to some websites.

By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
 

If you use Google’s mobile app and you have an active interest in coin collecting, you’ve probably seen a few articles online recently claiming that Bicentennial quarters still in circulation are worth millions–sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars–and that other circulating coins are worth nearly as much.

Sometimes, the feature image of these articles shows the correct coin, but often they present unrelated coins. In one article suggested by Google, the publisher used a stock photo of ancient gold coins. Finding a Roman solidus in change would be a newsworthy, once-in-a-lifetime event, but the Romans didn’t strike Bicentennial quarters. The United States Mint did.

Bicentennial quarters have not exploded in value in recent years, nor has the U.S. dollar suffered the fate of Zimbabwe’s hyperinflated currency. Instead, these articles are complete fabrications, likely the work of unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies or tabloid publishers looking to divert the public’s interest in finding life-altering treasure in change to some utterly unrelated offer of a good or service.

This month alone, I personally have been served articles on multi-million dollar Bicentennial quarters from websites purporting to offer bargain mortgage quotes, floral arrangements, and chiropractic(!) services. In another instance, a spurious article on a website belonging to a family restaurant made it into my Google-curated newsfeed.

These types of websites aren’t the only offenders. The tabloid news site The U.S. Sun often publishes headlines declaring that the author has made a significant discovery of some valuable rare coin. When you click on the article, you find nothing but a rehash of old news that the author has absolutely nothing to do with.

In the last month, The U.S. Sun has published articles about the Saddle Ridge Hoard, a big-ticket coin in a Heritage auction, and rare coins found in change worth tens of thousands of dollars. I contacted the publishers a week ago about the wildly misleading and uninformed headlines and await a response.

You must be careful with so much spurious content evading Google’s spam filters and spreading on social media. Expertise still matters, and not everything you read online is trustworthy.

In writing this, I’m reminded of a lesson I learned as a youngster fishing on the Chesapeake Bay with my uncle and grandfather. After a long day of pulling nothing but croakers, my uncle reeled in a large flounder. It was my first time fishing out on the bay, so I had never seen such a fish. Excitedly and intending to catch a flounder for myself, I cast my line far out into the water.

I must have overestimated the force of my cast as the rod slipped out of my hands and fell into the water below. I was embarrassed, upset, and worried that my grandfather would be so angry at me that he’d never take me fishing again. But when I explained what had happened, he and my uncle had a good laugh.

Clearly, I didn’t know what I was doing and in my exuberance I made a big mistake. I bring this up to caution you against becoming over-exuberant after reading an online article about life-changing treasures that await your imminent discovery.

Returning to numismatics, rare coins and varieties do occasionally turn up in circulation. These events are more infrequent now than they were 50 or 60 years ago, but they still happen. Typically, the coins that turn up are scarce doubled dies, scarce AM cent varieties, or the occasional mint error. Bicentennial quarters found in change are not worth more than face value, no matter what they say online, and examples in pristine Mint State condition seldom sell for more than $100.

To believe otherwise is to believe in fish stories.

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Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan is an award-winning numismatic author and the editor and publisher of CoinWeek.com. Along with co-author Hubert Walker, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the "Market Whimsy" column for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing. From 2021-2023, Charles served as Governor of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), where he was bestowed the Glenn Smedley Award. Charles is a member of numerous numismatic organizations, including the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG).

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this, Charles. I’m a retired journalist who spent 10 of my 31 years as a consumer/investigative reporter. I did many, many stories on coin and currency scams, including a couple when I was at CNN. I always appreciate a brother-in-arms doing the same.

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