US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for April 20, 2020: Adjusting to the new normal

The hobby is adjusting the new normal designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Great American Coin Hunt has switched from a plan to place collectible coins into circulation to a digital promotion of collecting that can award coins to winners.

Original images courtesy of Great American Coin Hunt.

All of us have experienced hardship this past month as the growing COVID-19 pandemic  spreads worldwide, infecting unknown numbers and killing more than 100,000 people. As much as we like to think that our shared hobby serves as a respite from the outside world, the coronavirus’s effects have hit the numismatic community as well.

The American Numismatic Association has canceled its annual Summer Seminar for the first time in its 50-plus-year history. The two-week educational extravaganza is held on the campus of Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. College officials announced that they would continue the closure of the campus into the summer, forcing the ANA to cancel the 2020 classes. That is a disappointment to all, because the Summer Seminar is the numismatic educational event of the season.

Government and private mints all around the world are closing or curtailing their activities.

In the United States, the San Francisco Mint and West Point Mint are both closed. The West Point facility was at first closed for three days for cleaning at the end of March, after an employee tested positive for the new coronavirus. It has since been closed again, now for an indefinite period, as is the San Francisco Mint. While these closures do not affect coinage production for circulation, the West Point Mint and San Francisco Mint closures have halted production of most numismatic and bullion products, threatening delays to the product schedule in the months ahead.

Beyond the United States, senior editor for world coins Jeff Starck tells me he has been receiving a lot fewer press releases about new coin releases. Mints in Canada and the United Kingdom have closed, and probably elsewhere. In Great Britain, the Royal Mint has switched to making protective gear for the medical profession, showing the mint’s ability to respond to the pandemic in an admirable manner.

Shows and conventions worldwide are canceled as governments order an end to large gatherings of people.

The 2020 edition of the Great American Coin Hunt set for the end of April in conjunction with the ANA’s National Coin Week has been changed into a digital promotional program.

Plans for releasing collectible coins into circulation as in the 2019 GACH have had to be curtailed.

Not all news is sour, however. Even though public auctions are also being closed, they continue online, as Steve Roach reports in his Market Analysis this issue. Much of the bidding in auctions in recent years has been done online and by telephone rather than on the auction floor, so auction houses were well prepared to shift to an all-digital platform. Results for quality numismatic material remains strong.

Similarly, we are seeing a lot of activity at online collector forums. With coin conventions and club meetings canceled, collectors are continuing to stay in touch with each other online. Many clubs have already switched to digital club newsletters, so those continue to be published from the safe confines of the homes of club officials.

At Coin World, most of the staff is working from their individual homes rather than from the Coin World offices. We continue to publish every issue and to update our website and Facebook pages.

We want to know. How has the pandemic affected your collecting enjoyment? Are you keeping in touch with other collectors or working in your collections or reading numismatic books from your library? Email me at bgibbs@amosmedia or go to our Facebook page and comment. Since I am not in the office, I cannot take telephone calls; hopefully, in the not too distant future, I can return to the office and get caught up on some voice mail.

As a numismatic community, we will get through these trying times.

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