All US coins enter common circulation through the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States.
The Federal Reserve Bank obtains coins in bulk from the United States Mint in so-called “ballistic bags” that are designed to hold several thousand pounds of coins. To make the handling and distribution of these coins to local banks a little easier, they are then sorted into standard sizes according to their denomination.
Other coins are also brought back to banks by customers trying to deposit them, and thousands of coins are also deposited from commercial shops and stores. All of these coins must be processed, stacked, and then rolled.
Why Do Banks Use Coin Rolls?
Simply put, banks continue to use coin rolls because it is an efficient way of storing large numbers of coins of a single denomination. Cataloging particular coins can also work well if you need to have an individual type of coin on hand quickly but that’s not the case for most coins.
You might have gone through several sacks of coins to find some rare ones, but most coins are going to be standard issue. One of the best ways to organize and return those unwanted coins to the bank is as a coin roll. Banks then find it easier to roll the coins for inventory and accounting purposes.
Number of Coins in a Standard Roll
Here is a quick description of the different types of coin rolls you might find in each specific denomination, including the actual number of coins that each roll usually contains, as well as the total face value that you would usually be able to get for the regular coins in each roll:
- Penny Rolls: 50 pennies, 50 cents
- Nickel Rolls: 40 nickels, $2
- Dime Rolls: 50 dimes, $5
- Quarter Rolls: 40 quarters, $10
There are also rolls of half dollars, silver dollars, certain world coins, rare coins, pedigree coins, and other uncirculated coins, but a more in-depth discussion of these coin rolls is beyond the scope of this article.
Why Are Coins Rolled by Banks?
As stated above, the coins are rolled by the banks to simplify distribution and inventory. First, the United States Mint produces coins. After the coins are struck in the coining press, the bags of coins are shipped to rolling and distribution centers to standardize the distribution of coins.
The rolls are then packed into boxes. This makes counting the coins faster and more efficient. Also, if commercial customers request any types of coins for their business, the teller does not need to count out all of the individual coins. They can simply select the number of coin rolls to satisfy the requested amount.
Other Types of Rolled Coins
You’ll find that the Canadian banking system follows the same standard roll sizes as the US banking system. However, many other foreign countries have also standardized their roll sizes based upon the specific requirements of their banking systems.
These requirements can vary from country to country, and so you’ll find a wide variety of coin rolls when you are working with foreign coins. As mentioned above, you may sometimes find rolls of coins that are not standard. For example, there are rolls of half dollars, silver dollars, certain world coins, rare coins, pedigree coins, and other uncirculated coins.
These rolls are usually created by private individuals or companies that specialize in different types of coins.
You might also find “half rolls” (containing half as many coins as a standard roll) and “double rolls” (containing twice as many coins as a standard roll). Coins distributed in these nonstandard ways do not have any additional value. Some unscrupulous companies have taken ordinary coins and packaged them into these types of nonstandard rolls.
The rolls are then placed into fancy boxes or packaging to make them look more expensive. This was quite a common practice when it came to sets of Presidential Dollar coins. These sets may even include a “Bank Vaults Certificate”, which supposedly proves that the coins are authentic.
But this is nothing more than a marketing scheme designed to make people spend money. We advise you to stay away from these gimmicky coin rolls, because they are usually not worth anything more than your regular face value.
Some Good Ways to Obtain Rolls of Coin From Your Bank
You can quite easily purchase standard coin rolls from local banks. However, some banks have a policy that only the customers of that specific bank can exchange paper money for rolls of coins (in other words, you need to have an account at that bank).
Also, some banks may charge you for exchanging rolls of coins or put a limit on the number of coin rolls you can buy. Always remember that banks are not necessarily owned by the government. They are businesses trying to make a profit.
They must employ and pay people to operate the coin rolling machines, and there are also other costs when it comes to preparing coin rolls. A good way to get coin rolls from your bank is by knowing your bank tellers or the manager.
If you have accounts and banking services all concentrated at one bank, it will be easier to obtain coin rolls on a regular basis. You’ll discover that some banks may even insist that you open up a “commercial bank account” if you are wanting access to a large number of coin rolls.
What to Search for in Rolls of Coins
These are a few of the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that will carry a premium price that is higher than their face value:
- Pennies: One cent coins dated with the year 1958 or before (Wheat Pennies)
- Nickels: Jefferson Nickels dated between 1942 and 1945 (35 percent silver) with a large mint mark letter on the reverse above the building. The 1950-D Jefferson nickel (uncirculated condition) is the key to this series.
- Dimes and quarters: any coins dated 1964 or before (90 percent silver)
Other Way to Find Rare Coins
Many coin collectors have spent many hours going through sacks of coins and coin rolls with the hope of finding valuable coins such as a Lincoln wheat penny or an Indian Head penny, a Jefferson wartime nickel, or any number of error coins.
However, although this might be a fun pastime for some coin collectors, we believe that searching through coin rolls in this way seems incredibly time-consuming compared to simply buying a rare coin outright as an investment.