So I deaccessioned the first installment of my grandmother’s coin collection today. This installment consisted of a red toolbox filled to the brim with quarters. Forty-eight rolls of quarters (various statehood commemoratives), plus several dozen little Ziploc bags. Three thousand quarters, plus a few Susan B. Anthonys, several Sacagaweas, and four rolls of nickels. That’s one heavy toolbox, I’ll tell you. I would’ve joked with the teller at my bank about it, except I’m sure they’ve seen it all before with little old ladies come down the hill after a bender at one of the casinos.
I wondered, as I dumped bag after bag of quarters into the coinstar, tipped that feeder and heard the sorter clangity-clang, watched as the values steadily climbed on the computer screen, what would my grandmother think? That I was being meanly unsentimental, cashing in on her carefully hoarded pile? Probably not, given that she was mean as a hornet herself and sentimental about very little except the great American songbook. That I was being unpatriotic, disposing so callously of a numismatic testament to the glory of federalism? Hardly, given I’ve got one of my own (yes, yes. It is apparently a genetic flaw which I inherited). That I was being fiscally foolish, to dispose too soon of something that would surely increase in value? Perhaps — but I am skeptical even there, given that she herself put into my hands the investment handbook that apparently guided her from the 1970s on, and which included coin collecting only as a final, and most conservative, bulwark against liquidity problems, one that was unlikely to retain value in the long term against inflation.
Or, perhaps, that I was doing precisely as she intended, and cashing in during a moment of crisis? Maybe. But what is $740 and change going to do me, especially when split halvsies with my brother? We’ll see I guess.
In case you are wondering, not a single coin was rejected by the machine. I credit the collector, given that when I take my own piggy bank in — as I do every couple of months, to add to one of the kiddos’ mad money accounts for when they’re in college and need some folding green for hookers and blow, or whatever it is they’ll be buying for themselves in the 2030s — I usually get spat back out about .05%, or $0.40 for every $80, which is about what that little porcelain porker carries).