The new nickel could be worth ... 5 cents

A new nickel design will begin filling change drawers on Monday, but expect the commemorative coins to disappear quickly.

When the newly designed Buffalo nickels arrived at the South Ottumwa Savings Bank this summer, the coins quickly flew out the door and into the hands of coin collectors and hobbyists.

“They make really great gifts,” said Mary Sigman, assistant manager of tellers at the bank.

And a gift is what they should be considered, because many of the nickels and commemorative quarters that the U.S. Mint has been churning out since 1999 may never find themselves worth much more than their face value.

Through the end of 2005 and beyond, the Mint is issuing many new coins, but most are specialty items, such as a current commemorative for the Marine Corps. For general circulation coins, the second of two nickels to debut this year - the Westward Journey “Ocean in View” piece that honors the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 - rolls out Monday.

Kansas will receive its quarter in September, and West Virginia’s coin will begin circulation in November.

These coins are favorites of grandparents who want to dole them out as presents to grandchildren. The Mint has obliged them by printing billions upon billions of the coins. Since the key to value in collectibles is rarity, scarcity goes out the window.

John Biondi is a coin collector from Sheldahl who said he has purposefully avoided the commemorative quarters - Iowa’s was released in 2004 - because of all the hoopla.

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Category - Informative
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