Bicentennial Coin Header 2 Little Drummer Boy Coins

What Are Little Drummer Boy Quarters?

If you have seen these quarters floating around, it’s pretty obvious why they are called little drummer boy quarters. The little drummer boy quarter is the 1776 bicentennial quarter pictured below:

It is called the “Little Drummer Boy” Quarter because it has a soldier drumming on the back. The name is a joke about the Christmas song about the little drummer boy. The bicentennial quarter does not actually depict the little boy in the 1941 Christmas song.

When was the little drummer boy quarter released?

The quarter was minted from 1975 to 1976, but every coin has the 1976 date on it, even if it was minted in 1975. (That means there are no 1975 quarters!!)

Why does the quarter have 1776 on it?

Anyone asking this should have paid a little more attention in history class. 1776 was the year the US declared independence from England!

The bicentennial anniversary of independence day was celebrated with the 1976 quarter.

Was the little drummer boy quarter the only bicentennial coin?

Nope! In fact, the US mint released a bicentennial half dollar and dollar coin as well. (Unfortunately, dimes, pennies, and nickels remained the same for the year.)

Above is the half dollar coin. It depicts Independence Hall in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed!

Are Little Drummer Boy Quarters valuable?

No, not really. Since the bicentennial quarters were the only big change to the quarter design from 1932 to 1999, even non-collectors would pick the coins from circulation.

Some collectors still hoard them in hopes the value will rise in the future, personally I see so many in circulation that it is hard to imagine the prices rising much in my lifetime. If you see one in near mint condition it may be worth it to save.

Do bicentennial coins come in proof sets?

Yes! All 3 bicentennial coins come in the proof sets. The interesting thing about these proof sets is that the dollar, half dollar, and quarter were the same for 1975 and 1976!

Do people actually call them “Little Drummer Boy Quarters”?

I almost always call these bicentennial quarters, but I do occasionally see them referred to jokingly as Little Drummer Boy quarters. It’s a cute name.

Bah-rum-bah-bum-bum!


Do you keep bicentennial quarters you find? Vote in our poll and leave a comment below!

Next Year Coin Ideas Numismatics Header Image

Top 5 Things Collectors Want to See on Next Years Coins

If anyone reading this knows someone at the US Mint, please send them this list along with my resume.

1.) More Real Women (Lady Liberty does not count!)

I’ve complained about it before, and I will complain about it again. We need more real women on coins!

As much as I love all the Lady Liberty designs, she seems to be the default woman to put on coins. Any real woman that gets on a coin is put on the rarely circulating dollar coins.

Susan B Anthony Dollar Coin

Did you know the Roosevelt dime design has been the same since 1946? Maybe it’s time to retire old Roosevelt and think of an influential woman in US history.

2.) Animals

The 2020 American Samoa quarter with the two bats on it was a huge hit with the public! I even heard non-numismatists talking about how much they loved that design.

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The 2020 American Samoa Bat Quarter (Photo Courtesy of US Mint)

After the National Parks Quarter series ends, the Mint should consider doing a series on animals of the US. It would be a great way for kids and adults to learn about different animals across the country.

3.) Deeper Relief

For the past several decades, the United States Mint has been lessening the relief on coins. The lower relief is most obvious with quarters and nickels, although it is noticeable on almost all circulating coins.

This is due to changes in the way coins are minted. It is likely cheaper for the mint to produce coins with less exaggerated reliefs.

Having a high relief would mean the coins details could last longer depending on the type of wear they are under. It would also make it easier to identify coins by feel as well as sight.

4.) Continuing West Point Mint Marks

Since the West Point mint marks began in 2019, I have found only 3 West Point quarters! Adding the West Point mint mark to quarters made quarter collecting an exciting pastime for me again.

West Point Quarter Obverse Front
West Point Quarter Obverse

Finding silver in quarters has become so rare, that it feels not worth the time looking these days. Knowing that I now have a chance of finding a “W” Quarter or a silver quarter when I am coin roll hunting has really invigorated my passion for CRHing quarters. (Not familiar with coin roll hunting? Click here to learn!)

5.) Creative Proof Sets

I absolutely adore proof sets. It feels very special to have coins in pristine condition that are stored safely. However, I wish proof sets were better built for displaying.

Proof sets are much better quality now than they were several decades ago, but they are lacking some of the creativity. My favorite years of proof sets, from 1973-1982 had a built in stand for displaying.

1973 Proof Set in Display
Proof Set With Built in Stand

If you want to learn more about proof sets, head over to the “US Proof Set Buying Guide” by American Coin Stash.


I may have titled this article “Top 5 Things Collectors Want to See on Next Years Coins”, but a better name might be ” Top 5 Things I Want to See on Next Years Coins”. Anything you disagree with or want included?

Add a comment below and vote in our poll!

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Ranking of The Best Places to Sell Your Coins, Silver, and Gold

Selling coins can be difficult and tedious. After sorting through your coins and deciding which to sell there is the daunting task of deciding how to sell.

This is a ranking I would recommend, but it may depend on your circumstances and what you plan to sell. In this article I will refer mostly to ‘coins’ but I think this ranking works well for gold and silver bullion as well.

1.) A trusted coin dealer

There is a reason I differentiate between a coin dealer and a trusted coin dealer. A coin dealer is someone who makes money by buying and selling coins. They may have a brick and mortar shop, an online store, or work by word of mouth.

A trusted coin dealer is someone you know and have done business with before. You trust that they have your best interest at heart as well as their own. They can help you find deals you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get.

Even if a coin dealer can’t get you the top price for a specific purchase or sale, it may be worth it to do business with them to build rapport in hopes of better future deals. They may also alert you if a coin comes in that you are looking for.

If you have inherited a collection and do not know the value of your coins, definitely go to a coin store if you do not want to learn how to value coins yourself. There are many tiny details that can make a coin more or less valuable. If you try to sell the coins yourself online you will not know how to describe the coins in the best way to sell them.

2.) Ebay

Ebay has been my go-to for selling coins. The benefit of eBay is that there is the potential of your coin being seen by millions of people.

Auctions can drive the price of the coin up to well beyond what you thought it was worth. The problem with selling on eBay, is that you are dependent on eBay algorithms for who your post gets shown to.

You can get around this by adding descriptive keywords into your eBay post, but even that may not be enough. I have sold coins on eBay that sold for less than they were worth simply due to eBay not showing my listing to enough people.

If you plan to sell on eBay, do not start by selling valuable coins immediately. Buyers are very suspicious of buying fakes from online dealers with few reviews. Start by selling other items or low-valued coins. Watch out for eBay fees and shipping costs as they can eat into your profit!

3.) A coin dealer

Not everyone has a local coin dealer they see regularly. It is no surprise given the ease of shopping online. It is worth going into your local dealer and asking what they would offer you for your coins.

Even if you don’t think they are giving you the best deal it may be worth it to sell to them to build rapport, or avoid the hassle of selling yourself. Many people looking to sell online forget the added cost of shipping.

Some online dealers will pay your shipping costs. If you want to know more about buying and selling from large online distributors, Money Metals Exchange has a good article on it here: “Selling Gold, Silver, Platinum & Palladium to Money Metals Exchange”

If you haven’t been to a coin store much and have some anxiety about what to expect, check out “What to Know Your First Time in a Coin Store”.

4.) Reddit

Reddit has a great community of coin collectors, coin dealers, and precious metal enthusiasts. There is a dedicated subreddit called r/PMsforsale where redditors sell precious metals and r/Coins4Sale where redditors sell coins.

I have used reddit to buy coins and have a lot of trust in many of the sellers on Reddit. Here are things to be aware of if you are selling coins on Reddit.

  • Age of your account
    • Currently, neither sub has explicit rules on how old an account must be, but Redditors are less likely to trust new accounts.
  • Trustworthiness of the buyer
    • People aren’t scammed on these subs often, but it has happened. Some Redditors do not pay, or request a refund after the items are received. All of the responsibility is on the buyer and seller to complete a transaction.
  • Shipping Cost
    • You should discuss the cost of the item and shipping before you sell someone your coins or precious metals. Make sure you have an idea before you post on the maximum shipping could cost you and how much you are willing to spend.

5.) Pawn Shops

A pawn shop is my least-preferred place to sell coins. Most pawn shops know a little about coins, but not often enough to give detailed prices. Usually, pawn shops are looking to turn a profit on items as fast as possible, so a pawn shop will rarely offer above the spot price for precious metals and coins.

This isn’t true for all pawn shops however, and it may be worth it to go in and ask what they would offer you for coins or precious metals. The benefit of a pawn shop is that they are easy to find, have lots of connections, and will give you a price quickly.


What is your preferred way to sell coins, silver, gold, and copper? Vote in our poll and share a comment below!

Display Proof Set 1976 Bicentennial

Buying Guide for United States Mint Proof Sets

Proof sets were made by the US Mint specially for coin collectors to have coins in uncirculated, perfect condition. Proof coins are minted at the San Francisco mint, have a deeper strike, a mirror-like surface, and go through a more intensive quality control.

I have purchased many proof sets online, here is my guide to help you make the best purchases and get the best deals on proof sets.

Do Your Research

Proof sets made before 1999 are almost always a lot cheaper than sets made from 1999 to now. This is because 1999 was the start of the US State Quarters program.

Mint sets made from 1999 to now come with 4 more quarters than proof sets made in the decades before. Having more coins, and the desirability of the proof state quarters drove up the price of proof sets.

Building on that, proof sets minted from 2007-2016 have 4 or 5 dollar coins instead of 1. This raised the price on proof sets minted from 2007 to 2016.

Things that will increase the value of a proof set:

  • Silver Proof Sets
    • These sets include 90% silver quarters, dimes, and half dollars. They usually come in a sleek black box.
    • All quarters, dimes, and half dollars minted before 1965 are 90% silver.
  • Years With More Coins
    • 1999-Present: More quarters
    • 2009: Contains 4 Pennies, 5 dollar coins, and 6 quarters
    • 2007-2016: Presidential dollar coins
  • Reverse Proof Sets
    • A regular proof set has a mirror-like finish on the
Proof Vs. Reverse Proof Half Dollar 2018 Example
Proof Vs. Reverse Proof Half Dollar from US Mint
  • Included COA
    • COA is the Certificate of Authenticity. Helps verify the coins are genuine.
    • This is not super necessary to have, as proof coins are not often faked, but some collectors like to have it.
  • Errors!
    • Even though proof sets go through a quality control, they can still have errors. Proof set errors are usually more valuable than regular errors.
    • Look out for proof coins missing the “S” mint mark.
    • The 1952S Superbird Quarter is one of the more famous proof errors.
Superbird 1952S Quarter Close Up
1952S Superbird Quarter. Can you see the “S”?
Click Here To Read More.

Check Bulk Lots To Get Good Deals

For proof sets, eBay is one of my favorite ways to buy. You can get great deals on bulk proof sets on eBay. What is helpful about this is they are normally sold in sequential years.

For proof sets minted in 1998 or earlier I try to spend about $5-$10 each, although I have seen some sold for cheaper!

The 1964 proof set is more expensive because the dime, quarter, and half dollar included are 90% silver. The 1964 proof set currently goes for about $20-$30 online.

Check For Damage

Things to look out for:

  • Cracks in the case.
  • Toning on the coins.
  • Misaligned coins.

Cracks in the case are bad because they ruin the look of the case, and can lead to the coins toning. Some people like it when coins tone, but not all coin collectors do.

A coin can develop toning in a proof set that is not cracked, but it is good to check for signs of toning because it may mean there is a crack letting air into the case.

misaligned Proof set 1972
1972 Proof Set. Misaligned Penny and Half Dollar

Misaligned coins just don’t look as good when the set is being displayed. Not a huge deal, but can affect the value as it cannot be fixed without opening the set case.

Set A Budget And Stick To It.

I give this advice a lot because it is so important! Especially if you get caught up in the world of online coin auctions it can get very easy to slowly overspend your budget. Pick a number you are willing to spend on each proof set and stick with it.

Should you buy proof sets directly from the mint?

I received the advice to not buy proof sets directly from the mint. In general, I think this is good advice. Sets sold directly on the mint website are usually very expensive, as there is more excitement to get a mint set the year it is released.

Especially if you are not worried about having the original government packaging or the Certificate of Authenticity, you can get great deals on proof sets online!

That being said, make sure to check mintage numbers. Some specialty proof sets are released with smaller mintage numbers. These sets potentially gain value over their initial price. Reverse Proof American Silver Eagles are great examples of coins that sell out fast!

I personally love reverse proof sets and the innovation series dollar coins. I would pay a premium to have these sets as soon as possible. So it really depends on your budget and how YOU value each item!

Proof Set Colors

If you have bought older proof sets, you have probably noticed the colors of the packaging and background change through the years. Here is a breakdown of the colors used for proof sets and their packaging from 1967-1998:

  • 1967-1967: Dark blue box, dark blue background
  • 1968-1972: Blue sleeve, black background
  • 1973-1982: Black sleeve, red background (with display!)
  • 1983: Blue sleeve, dark blue background
  • 1984-1993: Purple sleeve and background
  • 1994-1998: Green sleeve and background

Great For Displaying: Proof Sets From 1973-1982

The US Mint had great packaging from 1973-1982 where the proof sets came in jet black sleeves and were in a display stand. It made proof sets very easy to show-off!

I’m giving these proof sets a special shout-out on this article because I think this was a really innovative idea from the US Mint. I would love to see more products with built in display capabilities.

American Silver Eagle Proof Coins

Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous!

The American Silver Eagle has been America’s favorite design for decades. Combined with the smooth proof finish, these coins really pop.


Share your favorite proof set in the comments below!

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Coin Collecting Mistakes Smaller White Out Avoid

Top 6 Coin Collecting Mistakes to Avoid

Coin collecting should be fun, and as long as you are having fun there are no real mistakes. That being said, there are ways to make coin collecting more enjoyable and help save money. More money = more coins!

1.) Not doing research.

Learning about coins is part of the fun of the hobby! If you aren’t learning about the coins you buy or find, then you are missing out on great learning opportunities.

Plus, doing research helps you get better prices, and learn more about the buying and selling aspect of the hobby.

By doing research, you can learn about key dates, errors, and mint marks that others may miss. This could give you a profit or help you add more rare coins to your collection.

There are many great resources online to learn about coins. You can also buy a coin collecting book. Two of the most popular coin collecting books are the Red Guide Book and the Blue Handbook, if you want to read a comparison of the two books go to “What is the Difference Between the Red and Blue Coin Collecting Books?”.

2.) Not organizing your collection.

Keeping your collection organized can be difficult at times. Especially if- like me- you enjoy taking your coins out to look at them.

Organization is important because it can help you spot if a coin is lost or stolen. Labeling coins can help you sell them or help people who may inherit your collection appropriately value the coins.

Storing coins properly will help prevent tarnishing and scratches that affect a coins value. If you want to read more about safe coin handling, check out “4 Essential Supplies to Handle and Store Coins Properly”.

3.) Focusing too much on trends.

This may be ironic coming from the person who has written articles condemning colorized coins and ranking ugly coins, but the most important part of your collection is making sure you enjoy every piece.

There are lots of things the general coin community likes to bash on, but if you enjoy them, go for it. Personally, I really like the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin and the Ozarks quarter! Fight me coin collectors!!

4.) Not checking your spare change.

There are sooooo many coins that can be found in your spare change. It is rare, but not impossible to find valuable old coins from coins you get as change.

You don’t need to check every handful of coins for minute errors, but giving a quick scan for silver, buffalo nickels, or older wheat-back pennies can be profitable.

If you get really into it, you can also start coin roll hunting! Coin roll hunting is when you get rolls of wrapped coins from the bank and search them in search of treasures. If you want to learn more about coin roll hunting, check out “What is Coin Roll Hunting?”.

5.) Focusing too much on precious metals.

Silver and gold coins are amazing. They combine precious metal collecting with coin collecting. Buying coins with a precious metal content is a good idea, because even if the numismatic value falls, they will still be worth the price of the metal.

Before you decide to focus solely on collecting coins made of silver or gold, I think it is worthwhile for any coin collector to learn about the appeal of other types of coins. Coins are also loved for their history, rarity, and intricate designs.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on only silver coins. A huge collector favorite are the large silver-dollar coins. Being a coin collector led me to becoming a silverbug ;). (If you don’t know what a silverbug is, click here!)

6.) Being too afraid to spend money.

Of course, people sometimes overpay for coins, I did not add that to this list, because I felt like it was covered by “do your research”. People who research coins before purchasing are less likely to fall for scams.

It is possible to do too much research and never feel like you are getting good deals on certain coins. Think of it this way, let’s say a coin has a current book value of $15, but you can only find it for $20. You put off buying because the coin is overvalued. Now, the price may stabilize and return to $15, but you may also be left waiting forever.

Be careful when you research coin prices to see if the prices you are seeing reflect how coins are currently being bought and sold. For this reason, I do most of my price research from the “sold” listings on eBay.


Any big mistakes you made when you started collecting? Maybe you bought a fake coin, or lost all your coins in a tragic boating accident? Share a comment below and vote in our poll below!

Why is the Susan B. Anthony Coin So Poorly Designed?

The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is without a doubt one of the most interesting pieces of US coinage. This coin is widely regarded as being one of the least attractive coins ever made by the U.S. Mint, but along the way there were many times the design could have been fixed but was not.

Size

Before the Susan B Anthony dollar, the US Mint was making large dollar coins that were 38.1mm in diameter. The Mint decided to cut costs and make the coin more usable by bringing the size down to 26.5mm in diameter.

Unfortunately, the 26.5mm diameter along with the gold coloring made the coin too easily mistaken for a 24.3mm quarter. This was one of the reasons the SBA dollar was not widely used.

Shape

Originally, to prevent the Susan B Anthony dollar coin from being mistaken for a quarter dollar, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint, Dr. Alan Goldman, planned to make the coin an 11-sided polygon.

The vending machine companies lobbied against the proposal of an 11-sided coin, however, arguing that their machines were only meant for round coins. So the mint kept the 11 sides visible on the coin, but made the coin round.

I’m not sure why the mint bothered to keep the decorative edges? I assume this was all very last minute, as the edges only clutter the coin.

Eagle Reverse

Most coins follow a theme. The person on the obverse usually has a relation to the image on the reverse of the coin. For example, Thomas Jefferson’s nickel has Monticello, his plantation. The Lincoln Penny until recently had the Lincoln memorial.

Susan B. Anthony was a woman’s rights leader who was instrumental in getting women the right to vote. Susan B Anthony died in 1906, 63 years before the moon landing.

Susan B Anthony clearly had nothing to do with the moon landing, so why is there an image of an eagle landing on the moon on the reverse of her coin?

The reverse of the eagle landing on the moon originally appeared on the Eisenhower Dollar coin from 1971-1978. As it turns out, Eisenhower was not alive during the moon landing either. He died about a year prior, and while in talk about designing an Eisenhower coin, the U.S. government decided the reverse of the coin should honor the moon landing.

Late in the design process, Utah Senator Jake Garn passed an amendment to keep the ‘Eagle has landed’ reverse. Why? I’m not sure.

Having a Woman On A Coin

Having a real woman on a U.S. coin was as controversial then as it is today. Before 1979, Lady Liberty was the only female featured on a coin. There were many different complaints about the addition of Susan B. Anthony to the dollar coin.

Some argued she wasn’t influential enough and a great many argued that she wasn’t attractive enough. (Ironic, given that Abraham Lincoln, considered one of the least attractive presidents now and in his time, is still honored on the penny and the 5$ bill.)

Granted, there was a lot of political posturing in putting a woman on a coin. Some people were in favor in order to gain more credibility with female voters.

The rush to get a female on a circulating coin paired with the rush of the U.S. Mint to produce more dollar coins is a big reason why this design is so poor. Many elements of this coin on their own are great, but as a whole the coin does not fit together.

What the designers got right:

I think the depiction of Susan B Anthony is really good, Frank Gasparro made an accurate image of Susan B Anthony. She looks regal in her portrait, and the strike is clear.

The Eagle design is also very good. The eagle landing on the moon was already in use for the much larger Eisenhower Dollar Coin, but it scaled down nicely for the SBA dollar.

I wish this had become an 11-sided coin, I am a big fan of coin shapes that deviate from the usual circle. That could have been the saving design factor that pushed the Susan B. Anthony Dollar into popularity.

What it almost was:

The original concept for the small dollar coin by Frank Gasparro is one of my favorite coin designs. I know I complain about Lady Liberty being used on a coin more than real women but I absolutely ADORE this design.

Gasparro_Liberty_obverse
Original concept for the small dollar coin by Frank Gasparro.

Lady Liberty is shown with a Phrygian Cap, a symbol of the pursuit of liberty. I like her adventurous, Grecian look in this design.

Small Dollar Coin Concept Obverse Frank Gasparro
Original concept for the small dollar coin reverse.

The obverse is a very classic design of an eagle. Although Lady Liberty and a soaring eagle are both overused symbols, in my opinion, Frank Gasparro did a fantastic job using them for this design. The design is classic and detailed without being cluttered.


Although the Susan B. Anthony coin has a lot of flaws, all of the flaws are what attract me to this coin as a coin collector. The SBA dollar is one of my favorite coins! There is so much history to just this one coin.

If you are looking to get a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, you can get change from vending machines, or ask your local bank teller. If you are still having trouble finding a Susan B. Anthony Dollar you can buy them on Amazon or eBay. (Seriously, check with your bank first though.)

Even proof coins can be bought for cheap. Here’s a SBA coin selling on Amazon:


What do you think of the Susan B Anthony Dollar coin? Share a comment and vote in our poll!

I am an Amazon Affiliate, so I earn a commission on sales made through my links. This does not increase the price of any item linked through my site. My main goal is to inform.