Have you ever taken a 30-year vacation?
In one way, I did.
When I joined the staff of Numismatic News in 1978, one of my tasks was to write up the monthly coin production at the U.S. Mint.
Collectors used to faithfully follow numbers to guess what might prove to be scare that year.
The parlor game always seemed to be how many half dollars would be made.
But not all that many months after I commenced this duty, I gave it up.
Readers had lost interest in the information.
With mintages of cents in the billions, and other denominations registering smaller but still huge totals, monthly production swings seemed unimportant.
Besides, with silver on its way up to $50 an ounce, who cared about how many clad quarters were struck in July?
I took up the task again many years later.
This occurred during the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago.
Mintages were plummeting at the time.
And I mean plummeting.
Totals fell to half-century lows.
Mintages in 2009 were unbelievably low.
Mintages of Lincoln Bicentennial cents were so low that many collectors did not see them in change in the year of issue.
Coin hunters were challenged by the lack of 2009 Philadelphia and Denver nickels.
Philadelphia turned out fewer than 40 million pieces in the entire year, while Denver cranked out around 47 million.
For comparison, in my story about July 2017 coin output, the monthly total of 90.24 million nickels is larger than the entire 2009 nickel mintage.
Since 2009, I have been faithfully writing up monthly mintage figures.
But for how much longer?
Coin production levels have more or less returned to gargantuan quantities.
Collector interest is not what it was in 2009.
It might soon be time for me to take another 30-year vacation.
Though I suppose this next time I won’t call it a vacation.
My friends will make me call it retirement.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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