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Going crazy for quarters

Quarters are king when it comes to popular U.S. coins. A new fundraising event appears to be aimed at capitalizing on that popularity. But in a different era, larger-denomination coins had their day in the sun.

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 8:21 a.m. CST

In the world of raising money for good causes, a new idea has emerged.

It’s called Quartermania.

At Quartermania fundraisers, participants bid one to four quarters on items from a variety of participating vendors.

Several Quartermania fundraising events took place recently in the Sauk Valley.

One was at the Dixon VFW on July 25, which raised money for the Dixon PADS shelter.

The other was at the Latin American Social Club on July 27, which raised money for Goodfellows and the Sterling PADS shelter.

When you think about it, the word Quartermania pretty much mirrors the popularity of quarter coins in the United States. Americans love them and use them everywhere.

Vending machines. Car washes. Laundromats. Shopping carts at Aldi. Pay phones (if you can find one anymore).

It wasn’t always that way.

Half dollars once enjoyed a strong circulation.

It was an honor to be placed on the face of such a coin.

After John F. Kennedy was slain in Dallas in 1963, grieving leaders ordered the U.S. Mint to remove Benjamin Franklin's face from the 50-cent piece and replace it with JFK's likeness for the 1964 half dollar.

Dollar coins used to be popular, too. Baby boomers and their parents can remember the thrill of receiving a silver dollar as a gift, and making plans to save it or spend it at a favorite store or shop.

Hefty coins, those half dollars and silver dollars were. When you held one in your hand, you had the feeling that the world was your oyster.

However, that “heft” eventually proved to be the coins’ undoing.

Quarters were easier to carry and easier for coin-operated machinery to be designed for.

Despite the best efforts of Congress and the U.S. Mint, coins denoting any value above 25 cents have failed to catch on, including dollar coins bearing the likenesses of Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea.

Not that the Mint doesn't still produce higher-value coins.

According to the Mint's website, 9.6 million half dollars with Kennedy's familiar profile were made last year (though none were put into circulation), and 37.1 million dollar coins were produced (split between the Native American and Presidential series).

That production pales in comparison to the 1.45 billion quarters that were minted and placed into circulation.

Yes, Quartermania is the name of a new fundraising event in the Sauk Valley.

It also describes how most people feel about their quarters.

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