coin attrition rates

Discussion in 'Coin Roll Hunting' started by coloradobryan, Apr 3, 2015.

  1. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

    This is a subject that I find interesting, how many coins of a date and mint are still out in the wild. There are many factors that would cause a coin to be taken out of circulation, such as being lost, in a hoard, in a collection, etc. What do you think are the causes of a coin being lost from circulation? What would be a good sample size to nail down the percentage of a mintage that is still out in circulation, and how could roll hunters use this info? Your thoughts...
     
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  3. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    I think, statistically, there's NO good sample size, and that it's impossible to "nail down" anything, and that the usefulness to roll hunters is zero. A roll hunter finds random coins that for all practical purposes have already been "searched" by the public at large (at least on the basis of silver vs. clad, or Wheaties vs. non-Wheaties) and this additional constraining factor precludes any statistical calculations.

    You may be able to demonstrate mathematically that the odds of finding a 1916-D Mercury in a roll are 0.000000000000037%, but I will reply by asking how long you are willing to work for 3 cents per hour...

    You also have the problem that some HUGE percentage of (U.S.) coins ever minted is no longer in circulation, thereby skewing your numbers into post-1958 or post-1964 coins. Now the grading companies can compute a Condition Census, and an average grade for submitted coins of a given date, but that has nothing to do with roll finds.

    When I buy bulk silver (most of which appears unsearched, because bullion dealers don't have time to search it), I don't try to calculate how many Barbers I expect to find; if I find one, I think "great," throw it in my mayonnaise jar of Barbers, and move on. From buying considerable numbers of silver dimes, I have put together a set of Mercuries missing only the 1916-D and 1921-D, with many AU's after the middle 1930s; but I would no more do any calculations on those two dates than I would climb our flagpole and trill Cuckoo, Cuckoo.

    Sorry, this is an idea whose time will never come.
     
  4. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

  5. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    A kind acknowledgment. It's no secret, I'm not very sympathetic to roll hunters; on the other hand, it's an almost-free country, so full speed ahead, do your thing.
     
    Burton Strauss III likes this.
  6. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

    Well, all views are welcome. Tnx for responding to my post.
     
  7. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

    This post is more along the lines of coins currently in circulation, not coins that are obsolete and not in circulation to a great extent. My main concern is how you think most coins leave circulation in the first place. For example, when do you think a coin is old enough for the general public to start pulling from circulation as being "old". It seems a lot of people who have no numismatic knowledge will pull any coin from circulation if its old, equating age with value, such as common wheat cents.
     
  8. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    I agree with @doug5353. It would be a massive waste of your time to try to build a spreadsheet of some sort for this.

    Chris
     
  9. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

    You are right, for one person to sample 1% of the total mintage of classic Jefferson nickels, they would have to look at 14 million rolls. There was a study done by, I believe, the treasury department on coin attrition, but of course they would be in a better position to do so than an individual. Maybe I should rethink this thread and repost with a clearer question. This is more theoretical than practical. There is no way to nail down the exact number of an issue still outstanding in circulation, and even if there was, you can only figure out the probability of finding x amount of any given coin in x size sample. I'm looking at more along the lines of what are the factors that cause the loss of x coin from circulation, not so much how many are left of any given coin in circulation. Maybe this is a bit clearer.
     
    paddyman98 likes this.
  10. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    The U.S. is one of the very few nations that has had a stable coinage for 150+ years. In theory, you could still get Civil War era coins in change; they are more or less the same size and weight as today's coins, and still considered legal tender.

    Go through a mental list of some of the world's largest countries, and this is not true -- Great Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, etc., etc.

    Another interesting question is, how did obsolete coins (2c, 3c, half dime, 20c, etc.) disappear from circulation? A concentrated effort by the Treasury and the big city banks?
     
  11. Hommer

    Hommer Curator of Semi Precious Coinage Supporter

    Generational change of the public has an effect on what is considered rare and collectable. I laugh sometimes and I'm sure my parents and grandparents did the same, when a youngster finds something that he considers old, rare, and collectable, but I can remember when it was made and how many there were to begin with. If it wasn't for these young guys collecting the majority of all antiques would disappear with the generation that made it.
     
  12. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    A further refinement on your theory; in these hard times, with workers losing defined pensions and health insurance, etc., etc., skyrocketing rents, and getting $QUEEZED, people have become so greedy and secretive that everything over 20 years old is perceived as being a valuable antique or collectible.

    Those of you with discretionary income to buy coins probably don't realize the desperate situation of many households - a constant search for money, always alert for free food, the latest coupon, always rushing to curb alerts for junk.

    CraigsList has lots of ads for "antiques" from the 1980s. A month ago, I saw an ad for "coins we brought back from Europe in 2002," some of them rare, $1 each, blah, blah, blah. You wouldn't have paid a dime apiece for most of them. I've seen old worn-out TYPEWRITERS offered at exotic prices, and original (huh?) hula hoops priced to the moon.

    Generational change isn't doing us any favors. I agree it's a factor.
     
  13. Hommer

    Hommer Curator of Semi Precious Coinage Supporter

    Not many people get paid at all for other forms of recreation. In fact most have to pay and some go in debt. You could watch TV instead of look through a pile of coins, and talk to your friends and coworkers for months and years about what you found instead of a couple days about a new commercial. To each his own.
     
  14. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    Yes, but on average, what's your time worth?

    I am not so concerned with roll hunters as I am with their effect on newbies, who may come to believe that roll hunting is another lucrative get-rich-quick scheme, whereas it's actually a stacked lottery.

    I watch CNN, Austin City Limits, Charlie Rose, and the PBS Newshour, and that's about it, i.e., a news junkie. Just signed up with Netflix via Roku 3, so lots of movies in my future.
     
  15. Hommer

    Hommer Curator of Semi Precious Coinage Supporter

    Watching the news is more depressing to me than finding nothing in a roll of coins.
     
  16. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    Before television, before the Internet, we didn't know how much pain, fear, greed, ignorance, and hatred there was in the world. It's VERY depressing.
     
    Hommer likes this.
  17. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    Thought provoking post, which got me to thinking, does Treasury ever withdraw coinage as they do with bills? And if so, do they keep a record of dates, etc.?
     
  18. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    For Gilbert and Hommer, I was thinking more denominations than designs, so I left out the really BIG disappearance, the half cents and large cents. I wonder if there was ever a time when large cents circulated along side 1857 Flying Eagles? If no, there would have been a monumental shortage of 1-cent coins.

    There were about 42 million Flying Eagles minted in a 2-year period, and than an unprecedented surge in copper-nickel Indianheads, almost 160 million from 1859 to 1864. The question then evolves, did large cents circulate during the Civil War, during this massive production run? Maybe Q. David Bowers discusses this in his book, I have not read a copy yet.

    The Redbook indicates that the Law of February 21, 1857 provided for the coinage of the new small cents, AND that Spanish and Mexican coins, and large cents and half cents, be "brought in" and exchanged for U.S. silver coins and the new small cents. How long did this take? The Redbook also states that by 1857, large cents and half cents were generally disliked, and circulated only in the large cities of the eastern United States, such as Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.
     
  19. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    Edit
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
  20. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    [COLOR=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.701961)]
    Interesting and thought provoking for sure. My thinking is that there probably was not a time when large cents circulated alongside 1857 Flying Eagles. Thinking back to the mid-sixties, silver coinage disappeared from circulation rapidly, even though the clad replacements 'looked' the same. Image how much faster this process would have been if the new coins were different sizes, as was the case with the new cents and large cents? So my money goes with hoarding, otherwise why are large cents and half cents so plentiful today? I bet somewhere in a basement vault of Treasury is a report giving the details on how many or what weight of large and half cents were turned in. Any Treasury historians here?[/COLOR]
     
  21. coloradobryan

    coloradobryan Well-Known Member

    Well one way to get an idea as to the extent of the amount of circulation the last of the large cents saw would be the average amount of wear on the existing coins. I'm sure some circulated side by side with the new small cents for a while and were hoarded along with most other coins till the end of the civil war, and maybe circulated till at least the 1870s.
     
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