US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Jan. 20, 2020: Cuteness reigns

Move over, Baby Yoda, and make way for social media’s new darling creatures: Baby Bat and Mama, both found on the first America the Beautiful quarter dollar for 2020. 

Even before the 2020 American Samoa quarter dollar enters circulation (release is set for Feb. 3), social media influencers and general media outlets swooned over the American Samoa coin, which “depicts a Samoan fruit bat mother hanging in a tree with her pup,” according to the U.S. Mint narrative for the coin.

The collector community has known about the coin and its delightful design for months through reporting by Coin World and other numismatic media. However, once Mint officials issued a general press releases with images of the five 2020 America the Beautiful quarter dollars and news media outside of the collector community saw the American Samoa coin’s design, everyone sighed a collective “Aww!” at the coin’s cuteness.

The “Baby Yoda” character at the heart of the Star Wars television series The Mandalorian — actually a 50-year-old child of Yoda’s species, rather than a young version of the Jedi Master himself — occupied the top cuteness list for the past couple months, but has been replaced with the gushing over the new quarter dollar design.

The attention is wonderful, of course. Anytime the attention of noncollectors is focused on coinage is a good thing. We have not seen this kind of general interest in a numismatic theme since the Women on 20s promotion of a Harriet Tubman note and the wide interest in the State quarters program of 1999 to 2008. Subsequent quarter dollar programs have not captured the general public’s attention like the State series did, which has been a shame. It is not until the penultimate year of the America the Beautiful program that one of the coin’s designs has caught the public’s attention so widely (see contributor Chris Bulfinch’s report here).

We can hope that this translates into a mad search for the coin when it enters circulation in a few weeks, and maybe a new interest in the America the Beautiful quarter dollars already in circulation. 

I am not all that surprised that this design has captured the public attention. The design is one of the best in the entire series (and makes up, almost, for the rejection of a bunch of turtle designs submitted for a number of the coins over the years).

Let us hope that the public interest in this coin sparks something more.

Some housekeeping

Our monthly U.S. Mint Sales and Analysis column is missing for the second month in a row due to the U.S. Mint’s inability to provide weekly sales reports following the departure of the staff members formerly responsible for the report. Next month, hopefully.

Finally, we welcome David Hall as a contributor this issue. The longtime professional numismatist and co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service contributes an “Insider’s View” of the hoards of U.S. gold coins in Europe that have been making their way back to the United States. This first column appears in the digital and print editions of the February monthly issue, along with our regular “Collectors’ Clearinghouse” and “The Joys of Collecting” column. I think that you will find David’s knowledge and insights interesting. 

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