You’ve probably seen a cashier open a roll of coins when it’s out of change. Have you ever wondered how many coins are in a roll of coins? It depends on the type of room.
Coin rolls are also known as coin wrappers. They are color coded according to standards set by the American Bankers Association. Red wrappers for pennies, blue wrappers for nickels, green wrappers for dimes and orange wrappers for quarters.
Coin wrappers used to have plain colors, but machine-wrapped coin rolls today are made from white or Buff Kraft paper, with writing and end bands of the appropriate color .
Half-dollar coin wrappers are beige and smaller dollar coins like the Sacagwea and Presidential dollars have gray wrappers, but these two coins are rarely seen. Kennedy half dollars are too big and cumbersome, and dollar coins never caught on with the public.
Bank tellers and cashiers hate them even more. Modern bank drawers have no room for half dollars or dollar coins, forcing them to be piled up where rolls of coins go or tossed into one of the sections of paper money.
Image via Shutterstock
Professional coin rolling operations are moving away from 1,000 foot rolls of coin wrapping paper for coin counters, to using heavy, transparent shrink plastic. This simplifies logistics and creates rolls of coins that won’t split if you drop them. It also allows retailers to check for slugs or bad parts before opening the roll.
Take your rolls of coins to the bank
Many banks and businesses refuse to take wrapped coins for deposit or purchases. A common fraud involves filling rolls of paper coins with pucks or slugs and cashing them in. Another scam is to put one or two coins less in a roll.
Some bank branches have large coin counting machines in the lobby that are free to customers, but other banks will simply turn people away rather than pay a teller to unwrap, count, and rewrap rolls of coins. The only option for these people is to pay to use the CoinStar machine at Walmart or the local grocery store.
Coin Roll Bank Boxes
PM Company Coin Bank Boxes. Each box contains 50 rolls.
Businesses order rolls of coins from their bank. Banks in turn receive their Federal Reserve coin orders packaged in “bank boxes” of 50 rolls of coins each. These are delivered by armored car by companies such as Brinks who have a contract to transport the parts to where they are needed.
Bank coin boxes are color coded to match the coin rolls of each denomination. Not pictured above are the $500 Half Dollar Coin Bank Box (brown script) and the $1,250 Coin Bank Box (black script). Boxes of bank coins have the denomination and full face value printed on the ends for easy inventory.
US Mint Ballistic Bulk Coin Bags
Image via US Mint
Federal Reserve Banks order coins from the United States Mint in bulk ballistic fabric bags. Each US Mint bulk bag contains hundreds of thousands of coins and is strapped to heavy steel pallets. Together, a full bag and a pallet weigh more than a ton.
A Mint bulk bag of Lincoln pennies contains 400,000 pennies, for a total face value of $4,000. The bulk bag for quarters contains 200,000 coins, with a total face value of $50,000.
Coin rolls in other countries
These color codes for coin rolls only apply to US banks. Each nation has its own color codes. The European Union has moved from paper packaging to rolls of reusable hard plastic parts.
Others, such as the UK, do not use coin rolls at all. They use small plastic bags which can be used for different coin denominations, with tick boxes to mark what’s inside – one denomination per bag please.
Coin rolls in Canada
The size of the Canadian nickel, penny and quarter is close to that of the United States, at least in diameter. This is because most vending machines in Canada are made in the USA and coin acceptors are designed for US coins.
This coordination extends to coin rolls. Canadian nickel coin wrappers are blue and contain 40 coins. Canadian ten cent wrappers are green and contain 50 coins. Canadian quarter coin wrappers are orange and contain 40 coins.
Canadian currency does not have a penny or a half dollar coin. They do, however, have one dollar and two dollar coins, the famous Loonie and Toonie. Loonie coin wrappers are black, while Toonie coin wrappers are purple. Like modern US dollar coin packages, both contain 25 coins.
Coin rolls in the European Union
The European Union includes 19 countries that use the euro as their official currency. To combat waste, the EU uses color-coded hard plastic coin rolls (sometimes called coin cartridges). These plastic rolls have snap closures and are engraved with the denomination and value of the roll.
Euro coins in old style coin wrappers.
The eurozone banking system is moving away from colored coin packs in favor of clear packs, sometimes consisting of a colored band.
Some EU countries have abandoned the minting of one-cent and two-cent coins as impractical. As in the United States, they cost more to manufacture than their face value. Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and Finland have all stopped minting the minor coins. Traders in these countries still have to accept them since other EU countries still produce them.
UK coin rolls
The UK banking system does not use coin rolls at all. Clear plastic bags with places to mark denominations are used instead. The bags are supposed to contain a standard number of coins, depending on the denomination. Only one denomination is allowed per bag.
British coins are ‘counted’ by weight rather than by the piece. Meeting this standard has forced the Royal Mint to redesign the coins to be thicker when switching to a cheaper and lighter material, in order to keep the coins the same weight.
Image via Shutterstock
Pound coin bags
|a penny||100||£1||Same weight as 2p bag|
|two pence||50||£1||Same weight as 1p bag|
|five pence||100||£5||Same weight as 10p bag|
|ten pence||50||£5||Same weight as 5p bag|
|Twenty pence||50||£10||Used to be green bag|
|Fifty pence||20||£10||Used to be yellow bag|
|£1||25||£25||Used to be red bag|
|Two pounds||ten||£20||bag always been clear|
Technically, you can mix 1 pence and 2 pence coins and get the correct total face value. The same goes for 5 pence and 10 pence coins. This is strongly discouraged these days.
What does all this mean?
Knowing the color of the wrappers allows people to see at a glance the denomination of their coin rolls. This is especially useful for cashiers and retailers because they don’t have to stop and look at the end of the roll to see what coins are inside.
The colors of the coin wrapper and the amount of coins in each type of coin roll differ from country to country (EU being the big exception due to the European Monetary Union). All that “matters” is that there is a recognized standard for a country’s coin rolls.
Read more information about coins and currencies on the Gainesville Coins blog:
Who’s on every American coin?
Coin Collecting for Kids: A Beginner’s Guide
Maya Angelou Quarter Launches American Women Coin Program
How to sell your old coins
US Mint Coins Frequently Asked Questions: A Buyer’s Guide