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.


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.

2020 american samoa bats quarter covid
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!

Superbird 1952S Quarter

What is the 1952S Superbird Quarter?

The 1952S Superbird quarter is definitely one of the strangest quarter varieties known. It is named for a small “S” on the chest of the eagle on the reverse of the coin.

The current theory is that the “S” mark was made by a U.S. Mint employee who was a fan of the Superman comic series that was popular at the time. This is still a theory, as no one has come forward to claim responsibility for this quarter.

Superbird 1952S Quarter Circled
“S” on the 1952S Superbird Quarter circled.

We will likely never know who created this interesting variety. If the employee was 21 years old working at the mint in 1952, he or she would be 90 years old today!

This variety is only found on proof coins minted in San Francisco in 1952. Not every proof quarter from 1952 is a Superbird quarter. Currently, it is estimated that about 1/5 of every proof quarter from 1952 is the Superbird variety according to PCGS.

How visible is the “S”?

It is very difficult to see with the naked eye, this is why this coin made it out of the mint in the first place. In order to get a clear view of the S, you need about 5x magnification.

Superbird 1952S Quarter Close Up of S

I recently purchased a graded 1952S superbird quarter and I was surprised to find that it was very difficult to see the S with my naked eye. I had to move the coin into different lighting to even catch a glimpse.

How much is the Superbird Quarter worth?

This is not a very well-known variety, so the price has varied wildly.

Superbird 1952S Quarter Close Up
A side angled view of the 1952S Superbird Quarter.

Recently, (early 2021), the price has fallen since I first discovered this variety. Where an MS-63 was once catching $200 on EBay, they are now selling for closer to $90. I am not sure whether this is due to a decreasing demand, or an increasing supply.

Is this a good coin to own?

I definitely think this is a worthwhile coin to purchase if you like it. It makes a great conversation piece, as even non-coin collectors are intrigued by the idea of a Superman Quarter.

Get a graded one if you wish to purchase one. The S mark is so small, that even light scratches could easily make it illegible. Plus, grading will help others know what the coin is if it gets passed down, so having a slab with the words “Superbird” on it is a plus.

Superbird 1952S Quarter Obverse NGC Slab

If you can find one still in a proof set that would be an amazing find. These coins average around $100-$200, but can reach over $1,800 for higher grades.

If you want to learn more about proof sets, check out: “Buying Guide for United States Mint Proof Sets”

Share a comment below and vote in our poll!

Nickel with Soap, Lemon, Baking Soda

Cleaning Coins is Actually Bad For Them (with pictures!)

Post on any coin forum asking how to clean your coins and you will be accosted with angry coin collectors tell you to absolutely not try to clean them. There is good reason for this.

Although a cleaned coin may look better to the human eye, it actually damages the coin.

After being exposed to oxygen, water, and other elements in circulation, coins develop a patina. The patina is a thin layer of green or brown film caused by oxidation on the surface of the metal.

Cleaning a coin involves removing the thin layer of patina on the top of the coin to expose the shiny metal below. From afar, the coin would be shinier and look newer.

In reality, the cleaned coin now has very small scratched called micro-abrasions. These small scratches hurt the coins value for most collectors. Plus, by giving the coin a more scratched surface, the coin is now more prone to oxidation.

Here are the coins I will be using to show the different cleaning methods sometimes prescribed.

1.) 196(?)D Nickel – Dish Soap, Sponge, Lemon, and Baking Soda

This coin was the worst of the bunch. I could only barely make out the first part of the year (maybe 1968 or 1969?).

Since this coin was the worst of the bunch, I decided to use the most abrasive cleaning methods on it.

First I used a sponge with Dawn Dish soap aggressively on the surface of the coin. As I ran hot water over the coin I continued to rub in circular motions.

After this, it looked a bit cleaner, but I decided to get some chemistry involved and let the coin sit in lemon and baking soda before I rubbed it with a Q-tip.

The obverse of the coin after cleaning.

The coins look ever so slightly better after being cleaned. However, the amount of long term-damage done is not worth the small increase in eye-appeal. The date was still illegible after cleaning.

2.) 1986D Penny – Lemon and Baking Soda

For the 1986D, I put the penny in a small glass ramequin with fresh lemon juice and added about half a tablespoon of baking soda. I could tell something was happening as the concoction began to fizz!

Penny soaked in lemon juice and baking soda.

After letting the coin sit in the mixture a minute, I flipped it over so it could effect the coin evenly. Once that side was done I took the coin out to rub it with a Q-tip.

The coin certainly came out much shinier! If I had been more aggressive with the Q-tip, I could have gotten it much cleaner.

The obverse before (left) and after (right).
The reverse before (left) and after (right).

Much shinier of course, but you can still see small sections where the q-tip scratched the surface of the coin.

3.) 2000D New Hampshire Quarter – Acetone and a Q-tip

This coin was pretty clean already. Just a few blemishes keeping it from looking like new. For this quarter, I decided to go for a gentler cleaning method.

I took a Q-tip, dipped it in acetone, and used gentle circular motions on the surface of the coin.


This worked effectively and quickly, removing dark spots in the corners of the coin. Here is the before and after comparison:

(Sorry! The before image is not very clear.)
Again, not very clear image. Sorry!

4.) 1995D Penny – Acetone ONLY

If I had to recommend a way to “clean” a coin, this would be it. Acetone, also known as propanone, only dissolves organic materials. It can help dissolve glue, wax, and plastic.

This penny looks to be experiencing copper rot, more formally known as bronze disease. This occurs when copper comes into contact with chloride. You can tell by the green and white spots on the surface of the coin.

(Coins can also be affected by verdigris which is very similar, but I suspect this is bronze disease because of the white spots along with the green.)

To use acetone and minimize damage to the coin, you need to use 100% pure acetone. Don’t use nail polish remover as it includes coloring and fragrances that could affect your coin.

Keep pour the acetone into a glass jar or bowl. Put the coin into the acetone and try to move the coin as little as possible. You do not want the coin to scratch across the glass.

Penny in acetone in a glass bowl.

I would lightly swish the acetone around, but not enough to move the coin. After about 5 minutes I flipped the coin over and let it soak for another 5 minutes.

When taking the coin out of the acetone make sure to let it AIR DRY. Do not pat the coin dry with any material as this can also cause small abrasions. Acetone dries very quickly.

Obverse before (left) and after (right).
Reverse before (left) and after (right).

The obverse of our 1995D penny actually looks slightly worse after the acetone bath. The acetone ate away organic material on the top layer of the coin to help reveal the zinc below.

Even acetone cannot save a damaged coin, but it doesn’t hurt the metal when done properly. (Some people claim that leaving copper in acetone for too long can damage the coin, I don’t recommend leaving a penny in acetone for longer than a half hour.)


I know that by showing coins going from dirty to clean it may look like I am promoting for people to clean their coins. On the contrary, I think it is important for collectors to know that a cleaner coin is not necessarily better.

If a coin looks suspiciously clean for its age, then look carefully! Check for small scratches on the surface that could indicate cleaning. Get a magnifying glass of some kind to check for tiny abrasions that follow similar circular patterns.

Look at all the small scratches on this quarter!

If you have a coin that is both dirty and valuable, you can submit it to a professional coin service like PCGS or NGC to have it professionally cleaned (also referred to as restoration or conservation).

Have you ever cleaned a coin? Vote in our poll or comment below!

(Interested in more polls? Check out our poll page!)

Collection of Assorted US Cents Colorful Background

What is Coin Roll Hunting?

Coin Roll Hunting for Beginners

I had not been a coin collector long before I heard of coin roll hunting, and it sounded so exciting! I imagined trekking out into a forest in search of old forgotten coins.

Coin roll hunting is not that exciting, but it is a great activity!

Coin roll hunting, abbreviated CRH, is when you get wrapped rolls of coins from the bank and open them in search of certain coins. Some people coin roll hunt to fill Whitman albums while others look for valuable and rare coins.

How to get started

First, you will want to head to the bank and ask for a few rolls of coins. I would recommend starting out with pennies as there are many varieties and a greater chance of finding something old.

Pennies come from the bank in rolls of 50 cents. 10 rolls is a good starting number, so you will ask the banker for 5 dollars in pennies. Bring something to carry them like a plastic bag or a small box! And ask the banker for some coin roll wrappers so that you can re-roll your coins after.

Set yourself up at a desk or table. You will want to have with you: a trash can, a box for discarded pennies, a magnifying glass, a bright light, and a box for pennies you want to keep.

To open the rolls will depend on the type of coin roll wrapper the banker gave you. If the tops are crimped, with a thinner paper, then those are bank wrapped rolls. You can open bank wrapped rolls by tearing them in the middle. The paper is not reusable.

If you can take the coins out simply by unfolding the top of the paper, then those are hand wrapped rolls. Hand wrapped rolls are great because you can reuse the paper. (Plus, coin wrapped rolls are more likely to be part of someones old collection.)

Make sure to look at each coin carefully. When you start coin roll hunting, you will know very little about what makes a coin valuable, but your knowledge will grow. The goal of your first round of coin roll hunting is to get comfortable with what each coin looks like so you can spot anomalies.

Set aside any coins that are old or look different so that you can research them later.

What to look for when coin roll hunting?

This will not be a comprehensive list, as there are so many different varieties or coins and errors. But in general,

Pennies minted before 1982 are all made of copper. Some collectors keep pre-1982 pennies for their copper value. If you decide to do this, make sure you have a lot of space available.

A Circulated Wheat Back Penny

Look for Wheat back pennies. These pennies were minted from 1909 to 1956. The obverse (fancy word for the front of the coin) is the same Abraham Lincoln image used today. The reverse has the words “ONE CENT” surrounded by two leaves of wheat.

As of 2020, I usually find about 1 wheat back penny for every 300 pennies.

Indian Head Pennies are more rare, but can sometimes be found. Indian Head Pennies have an image of Lady Liberty in a Native American headdress on the front, and “ONE CENT” surrounded by either a laurel or oak wreath depending on the year.

Nickels are my second favorite coin to coin roll hunt for. Since only two years of nickels have been made of silver in the last century, very few people look through nickels.

Hunt for wartime nickels. These were minted from 1942-1943. Since nickel was in high demand for artillery in World War II, the US Mint used silver instead of nickel. With a composition of about 35% silver, silver Wartime nickels are worth more than 5 cents.

Buffalo nickels were produced from 1913-1938. There are no silver in these nickels, but are regarded for their design. The buffalo nickel is one of the most iconic designs in US history. Due to poor design on the date, however, some dates are difficult to find in good condition. Look for buffalo nickels with clear dates.

Dimes are very quick to search through, but very hard to find anything rare in.

Any dime minted before 1965 is made of 90% silver. So, any dime 1964 and older is worth more than 10 cents. Unfortuntely, many of these have already been taken out of circulation. You will likely have to go through thousands of dimes before finding a silver one.

A Small Collection of Silver Dimes

From 1916 to 1945, the US Mint printed Mercury dimes. These are gorgeous silver dimes depicting lady liberty in a phrygian cap. These are worth their value in silver, and probably slightly more since they are highly regarded by coin collectors.

Quarters are great for kids, as there are so many varieties in the State and National Parks designs. You can spend hours trying to fill a coin folder. Quarters are a great way to get children interested in coins.

A 1964 Silver Quarter.

Searching through quarters for silver is a very difficult endeavor. As with dimes, any quarter before 1965 is 90% silver. Because they are worth much more in silver, most older quarters have already been taken out of circulation.

In all coins:

Check for the ‘S’ mint mark. The ‘S’ mint mark means a coin was minted in San Fransisco. This mint produced very few coins for circulation, so the ‘S’ mint mark adds to the rarity of the coin.

Proofs! Proof coins are a special strike of coin meant to be sold in proof sets. Although originally sold in hard, plastic containers, many were broken out of these containers and can be found in circulation. It can be hard to differentiate a proof coin from an uncirculated coin. Check for the ‘S’ mint mark, as all proofs are minted in San Fransisco.

Remember all proofs are minted in San Fransisco, but not every coin minted in San Fransisco is a proof.

What to do with coins you don’t want?

You will probably end your search with many more coins you want to get rid of than to keep. Coin roll hunting is a numbers game, you find more valuable coins by searching through as many as you can.

Getting rid of coins is the biggest hassle of coin roll hunting. There are two ways most coin roll hunters get rid of their coins.

Most common, is to re-roll all the coins and bring them back to the bank. This is easy for smaller amounts, but is tedious in large quantities. Plus, not all bank tellers appreciate having to give out coins that are being brought back the next day.

Another option is to take all the coins to a coin counting machine. The most common coin counting machine is a CoinStar. CoinStars are super easy to use, but if you want the money back in cash, you have to pay an 11% fee. You can get the money put on a gift-card in most locations. Check if your local CoinStar offers Amazon gift cards, as they are the most versatile.

If you are super lucky your bank will have it’s own coin counting machine. This is much better than a CoinStar because they are usually free to use. In fact, if a local bank has a coin counting machine it may be worth opening an account with them just to use the machine.

Are you a Coin Roll Hunter? Share your best finds in the comments below!

If you are looking for help getting started, check out: