US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for April 22, 2019

Millions of 2019-W America the Beautiful quarter dollars struck at the West Point Mint are entering circulation, just in time for National Coin Week.

Image courtesy of the United States Mint.

Although this issue is dated May, it was produced in mid-April and published just as the 2019 edition of the annual American Numismatic Association National Coin Week begins. Every year in April, the hobby promotes coin collecting to the greater population, through special exhibits in public places, and coin shows, and various other activities. This year, though, something special happened that will continue to reverberate in the hobby in the weeks and months ahead, long after the April 21 to 27 celebration ends.

First, in advance, a private coin dealer announced plans by dealers across the country to place in circulation collectible coins. Rob Oberth and Roundtable Trading, who are promoting the idea, call it the Great American Coin Hunt. As you read this, thousands of coins await your discovery, placed there by hundreds of dealers. One dealer, former ANA president Jeff Garrett, planned to release 25,000 coins into circulation. The average planned release, according to Oberth, is around 2,000 coins.

In early April, a second participant announced plans to place collectible coins into circulation, timed to begin just before National Coin Week — the federal government, through the offices of the United States Mint. As we reported in the April 22 and April 29 issues of Coin World, and on Page 16 of this issue, the U.S. Mint is releasing into circulation five different 2019-W America the Beautiful quarter dollars, each with a mintage of 2 million coins.

Seated Liberty dimesInside Coin World: Do Seated Liberty dimes sit in your collection?: Features and columns found only in the May issue of “Coin World” include studies of Seated Liberty dimes, MPCs and 1796 quarter dollars.

Collectors are finding the coins, or not. I have heard from subscribers frustrated that they have been unable to find a 2019-W coin yet, though it can take weeks or months for new coins of any kind to make their way into general circulation. With the lower mintages for these coins and the method of their distribution — the West Point Mint coins are mixed with coins from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints before being shipped to the Federal Reserve — it will take time for the special coins to make their way to local banks and stores nationwide. Releases of these coins will continue throughout the year, and many will likely remain in circulation for years, until a collector plucks them up.

However, for some of those who have already found the coins, their luck has led to quick profits. Quantities of the coins have been selling in the marketplace for prices well beyond their face value, at points topping $100, though most are now selling for prices ranging from $35 to $50. This is both good and bad. It is good for those who have found the coins and profited by them, but it is bad because some feel that the distribution of the coins is being done unfairly.

Historical precedence exists for the distribution of the 2019-W quarter dollars. Starting in 1968, the Mint began issuing Lincoln cents struck at the San Francisco Mint into circulation. For many reasons, San Francisco Mint coinage with their S Mint marks were deemed as “special,” especially for collectors living east of the Mississippi River, where few of the coins could be found. 

From 1968 to 1973, dealers snapped up bags of 1968-S, 1969-S and later cents, to sell at profits. By the end of 1973, Mint officials decided to make it more difficult for small numbers of dealers to hoard large numbers of the 1974-S cents. Instead of shipping bags of cents containing nothing but the San Francisco Mint coins, the 1974-S coins were shipped to the Denver and Philadelphia Mints and mixed with the coins of those facilities to ensure broader distribution. That is what is happening today with the West Point Mint quarter dollars.

We want to know whether you are finding any of the 2019-W quarter dollars, or any of the older coins that may be part of the release through the Great American Coin Hunt. Share your stories with us at my email address or online at our website and Facebook page. 

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