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Mint booth draws big ANA crowds

Making a bigger than usual splash at the American Numismatic Association World?s Fair of Money in Milwaukee, Wis., was the U.S. Mint.

IMG_5572.jpgA special exhibit of 12 gold Sacagawea dollars that were specially created, flown in a space shuttle mission and then stored away never to be seen by the public at Fort Knox, Ky., was unveiled Aug. 10. Later the same day, Mint Director Ed Moy held a coin forum at which members of the public could ask questions.

On Aug. 8, the U.S. Mint was formally awarded the 2007 Coin of the Year Award for its 2005 commemorative silver dollar honoring the founding of the Marine Corp. 230 years ago.

All this occurred in addition to the usual booth sales activities and displays.

Quite a crowd gathered and the news media were present with their cameras and video recorders as Mint Director Ed Moy and ANA Executive director Christopher Cipoletti unveiled the gold Sacagawea dollars. They were mounted in a display with the NASA logo to striking visual effect.

Experts on hand pronounced the coins as having the same reverse as that used on the rare Cheerios variety of the base-metal Sacagawea dollar of the year 2000. The variety was named after the cereal because the coins that carried the rare reverse were used as premium items and were discovered only in the cereal boxes. The gold coins were struck in June 1999 and were included on a July 1999 mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia commanded by Eileen Collins, the first woman commander of a shuttle flight.

At the forum, Moy said the Mint had $2.3 billion in revenue last year, including $1 billion in numismatic revenue.

He expects a total of 800 million to 1 billion Presidential dollars to be struck in the first year of the program.

Gloria Eskridge, the Mint?s associate director of sales and marketing, said sales of the silver proof set were set to begin Aug. 23 and the First Spouse gold coin for Thomas Jefferson on Aug. 30, but more interestingly, she showed off the new package for the upcoming uncirculated coin set. Gone is the old acrylic packets and in their place are one-piece blister packs that allow the viewer to see not only the obverse and reverse but the edge, too.

All of the coins from the Philadelphia Mint fit into one new holder. The same is true for Denver. This makes the uncirculated set more compact than the 2006 issue, which had fewer coins in it.

Don Charters asked Moy if the Mint was deliberately not striking 2007 Sacagawea dollars for circulation in hopes they would be abolished. Moy replied that the full year?s production run is scheduled for the autumn.
Moy also put in a plug for how handy it is to use a dollar coin in a vending machine on a hot day instead of a paper dollar.

Moy said the Mint was surprised at the two-hour June sellout of the first two First Spouse gold coins. Their internal surveys showed demand would be 5,000-10,000, so the fact that 40,000 went quickly is making the Mint re-evaluate the program for next year.

Presidential dollar edge errors also caught the Mint by surprise and a new automated process will be fully in place by year end to prevent them from recurring. Already new manual processing procedures have greatly reduced the rate of error, he said.

Legislation to move ?In God We Trust? off the dollar?s edge is flawed. Moy said that the penalty specified is withholding appropriated funds and the Mint does not receive appropriated funds. Also, the date and the other motto are not required to be moved.

He assured the audience that he was getting the congressional message, but he was awaiting further refinements.

Plans for a 2007 platinum reverse proof half-ounce coin are not complete at this time.

In 2009, there will be four commemorative Lincoln cents plus one in the original 1909 bronze alloy.

The Mint is exploring how the eagle will return in 2009 after the state quarter series ends. The Mint may be able to do a new eagle design rather than bring back the old one.

Fractional Buffalo gold coins is an idea the Mint is still working on. Something may happen yet this year.

A composition of plated steel for cents and nickels creates problems for the vending machine industry. The Mint is likely to open up a competition to determine the future compositions if it gets the power to change them now being sought by legislation in Congress.

Approximately 50 people attended the forum and were quite enthusiastically involved in the give and take.

Two days earlier at the Coin of the Year Awards ceremoney sponsored by World Coin News, sister paper to Numismatic News, Eskridge was called forward four times to receive awards for U.S. coins.

In addition to the top award, the Marine dollar was a category winner as Best Crown, the 2005 Bison nickel won in the Most Popular Coin category and the Oregon state quarter was Best Trade Coin.

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