A note arrives from the U.S. Mint in your email or in your mailbox that says, “Dear Collector, We need you. We are so desperate for your business that after being jilted by silver bullion investors who won’t buy our 5-ounce coins, we have decided to create something for you that hasn’t been seen in almost 60 years.”
How would you react?
You know and I know that you will never get such a note, but the creation of the first circulation quality “S” mintmarked quarter since the 1954-S rolled off the presses can certainly be interpreted as such.
The Mint needs more of your money. Its profit position is eroding rapidly. Every cent the Mint produces costs it more money than it can be sold for to the Federal Reserve. Every nickel, ditto.
Dollar coin mintages and the profits they once generated to offset the other losses have been cut dramatically.
Demand for standard collector sets is dropping. For example, four-coin Presidential set has gone from 535,463 in 2010 to 289,202 in 2011 to 158,877 in 2012.
Where will it end?
That’s the question haunting the Mint’s accountants.
Enter the “S”mint clad quarters.
My generation certainly has felt the tug of that magical “S.” We came to feel this emotional attachment from the time we discovered that many of the holes we had trouble filling in our Whitman albums somehow more often than not were the “S” mint coins. Throw in the lore and appeal of the Gold Rush and the Old West and virtually every collector then was defenseless.
Will this prove to be so in 2012?
Two generations have passed since the heyday of circulation finds. Even more time has passed since the San Francisco Mint closed in 1955. That event both reinforced the sense of “S” mint scarcity, but it also began a period of re-education for collectors. The facility reopened during the 1960s coin shortage. It became the production site for proof sets starting with the 1968 set. “S” became a symbol for collector-only proofs, the prices of which we have often complained about.
Which impression will carry the day?
Probably some combination of both aided by the fact that the clad “S” quarters will be sold to collectors and not released into circulation for us to find for our Whitman albums.
If collectors respond to these “S” quarters in a positive way, will there be others following soon, say “S” half dollars or dimes? “S” Presidential dollars, anyone?
We are already getting more “S” silver American Eagles this year after their two-stage arrival last year (Eagles made in San Francisco without a mintmark and then with one in the anniversary set).
We seem to be in the early stages of a new trend.
If this shores up the Mint’s finances, we will deserve a thank-you note. But expecting one is going too far. We will have to be satisfied knowing we get new products when our money is needed.
More Coin Collecting Resources:
• Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition A note arrives from the U.S. Mint in your email or in your mailbox that says, “Dear Collector, We need you. We are so desperate for your business that after being jilted by silver bullion investors who won’t buy our 5-ounce coins, we have decided to create something for you that hasn’t been seen in almost 60 years.”