I was on summer break from college and working as a waitress in the dining room of a local hotel. At the end of my shift, I’d check in with the cashier, who would exchange any coins I had received for paper money. One of my customers watched this transaction and then gave me some advice. “Cash in everything except the quarters. When they stop making silver quarters, they will be worth more.” It was the first investment advice that I ever received. For a week or two, I followed the advice. Then I needed cash for something and used the quarters. That was the end of saving my silver coins.
My customer’s advice was solid. Curiosity got the better of me and I tried to determine what they would have been worth today. I easily received at least ten quarters per day and worked five days per week, so I could have saved at least fifty quarters per week. Multiply that by the ten working weeks of my summer vacation and I would have had five hundred silver quarters. At 25 cents each, that’s a $125 investment. I checked online and learned that the current melt value of a quarter minted between 1936 and 1964 is a little over five dollars. Today those quarters would be worth over $2500. Do the math. Over fifty years, those coins averaged an increase of $47 per year, almost a forty percent return each year on that small investment. Not many investments do that well. If I had it to do over, I would save those quarters and buy quarters with my paper money too.
I had hardly finished my calculations, when I realized that I had only checked out the coins’ melt value. So I started looking at the collectible value. That varies with the coin, but most were over six dollars and many of them had values in the one hundred dollar range. I don’t even want to think about the 1932D and 1932S coins that can sell for up to $15,000. It made me wonder how many of those were stuffed into college vending machines or laundry facilities. Ouch!
I suppose that I could learn from my experience and start investing money in silver bars or some American Silver Eagles, but I’m still regretting my youthful foolishness.