by Ken Potter – NLG
Q: Would you please help with a Delaware State quarter I listed on e-bay [that appears to be a Denver Mint specimen struck in pure silver]. To the best of your knowledge, is this a fake or possible pattern?
Thank you in advance. TK of Washington.
A: Tens of thousands (if not more) States Quarters were plated with a very thin layer of platinum and sold through television promotions and other direct marketing in sets of ten coins encompassing each year’s State Quarters output from both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. These coins were sold in privately produced packaging very similar to the packaging the United States Mint used to assemble their San Francisco “S” Mintmarked proof sets.
The privately plated platinum sets were very heavily promoted as “limited editions” and with implications that they could be a great investment. Eventually many buyers went to sell their “investments” and found that the numismatic market for such items is non-existent and that in fact anybody can take quarters to a plater and have unlimited numbers of them plated in this manner with gold, silver, rhodium, platinum or whatever metal they wanted.
In effect, they learned that the coins in these sets were not officially released by the US Mint in this manner and were simply aftermarket alterations.
Because of this and because collectors considered them to have no particular value over face, and dealers would not buy them, the response of many buyers was to simply break the coins out of their holders and spend them.
There are now many thousands of these coins that have been dumped into circulation. This is now one of the most common questions error specialists get. I see that the one you refer to actually sold for $8, which means that as P. T. Barnum put it, “there’s a sucker is born every minute.” If it was a real “pattern” or an “experimental” piece it would have brought out the true die-hard specialists and sold for thousands.
Nonetheless, I must say that sight unseen I cannot be 100% sure of what you have.