US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for April 6, 2020: Searching during a crisis

Although the Weir Farm National Historic Site quarter dollar is the second America the Beautiful quarter dollar to be issued in 2020, the 2020-W strikes are the first of the West Point Mint production for 2020 to be released.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

United States Mint officials are preparing for the release of the first circulating 2020-W quarter dollars, a move that would normally prompt collectors to start searching for the coins. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat to our lives that the coronavirus poses will undoubtedly make searching this year tougher than it was last year.

The 2020-W Weir Farm National Historic Site quarter dollar enters circulation starting April 6 in the cities on the list Mint officials provided (see Paul Gilkes’ article).

Last year, collectors found the 2019-W America the Beautiful quarter dollars by acquiring boxes of new quarters at local banks or simply by running across them in general circulation as they made everyday purchases.

Today, however, most states have ordered their residents to stay at home, except to go out to purchase groceries, prescriptions, or other essential goods and services. Many businesses are closed, and those restaurants that remain open offer take-out only, not in-house dining. Banks have closed lobbies and are conducting all business via drive-through lanes or Internet. Some authorities are even recommending contact-free payments rather than cash transactions. All these changes to commerce surely will affect the demand for coinage in circulation.

During the 2008–2009 economic crisis and recession, mintages of circulating coins fell sharply as demand for coinage plummeted. Mintages for 2009 coins in particularly reached their lowest levels in decades. Now, it appears we are entering another recession due to the pandemic; could falling mintages again result?

Nonetheless, the Mint is committed to placing the 2020-W quarter dollars into circulation. I suspect that collectors will cautiously begin searching for the coins while at the same time continuing to follow CDC recommendations about physical distancing and attention to hygiene through frequent hand cleaning.

It is comforting to have a hobby like coin collecting that one can enjoy while sequestered at home. Online auctions await your attention. Searches for the 2020-W America the Beautiful quarters can wait until it is safer to do so.

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