Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Mind Your BQ's 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Sugar, Mr. Poon? has an interesting post about the odd phenomenon of curiously youthful-looking Bicentennial Quarters ("BQ's"):
I see them a lot. More than I see 1975 or 1977 quarters, even accounting for some availability bias or what not. As such, I'm going to assume that either or both of the following is true:

1. The U.S. Mint continues to produce BQs.
2. The U.S. Mint takes BQs out of circulation less frequently than they do quarters of surrounding years.

Seems reasonable, no? Here's the thing I just noticed, though: every time I see a BQ, it's in great condition. I just don't recall seeing a tarnished or otherwise beaten-up BQ.
My theory? I'm not sure how the mint decommissions BQ's (or P's, N's, D's and POQ's for that matter)...my suspicion is that while the Plain Old Quarters of adjacent years (the 1975's and 1977's) have been changing hands for almost three decades (and are removed from circulation as they reach increasingly poor condition), sentimental souls like myself have been hoarding BQ's in coffee cans for years at a time.

Occasionally we open the coffee cans, notice the pristine piles of BQ's, and decide sentimentality for the Spirit of '76 isn't quite what it used to be. These "sleeper" BQ's are then returned to circulation from their artificially-preserved state, looking barely older than the day they were born. Hence, a greater quantity of shinier BQ's in the currency pool than one would expect.

That's my...(cough, cough)...two bits.