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Bad times revisited

It is nice for coins to be noticed by officialdom, even if only in an historical sort of way.

Crain’s New York Business posted a story online about all of the coins that re-entered the banking system in 2008 during the financial crisis when many people were desperately trying to pay their bills with whatever resources they had.

This phenomenon was noticed by the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System as it was happening and commented upon in the just released minutes of their meetings of 2008.

Janet Yellen pointed out that inventories of quarter and dollar coins by December 2008 were up 50 percent from 12 months before and cent supplies were up by nearly 25 percent.

This coin inflow was understandable but unusual in the experience of those who would keep track of such things.

The impact on coin collecting was more a matter of unfortunate timing than anything else.

Swelling supplies of cents meant that the Mint did not have to strike as many coins as demand by the economy was being met by these older coins coming coming back into the system.

Mintages collapsed to 50-year lows just as collectors were looking for the four new 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial designs in their change.

Many collectors never found them.

I have rarely encountered any of the four designs in my change to this day.

Even though I knew the reason why this was occurring, it was still disappointing to not be able to scratch the itch of circulation finds album filling.

Future collectors will finger 2009 as a difficult year much as the prior generation looked at issues of 1955.

Now this information makes a sort of a fun fact kind of story.

Nearly seven years ago it was a matter of desperation for people.

Who knows how many individuals who had been squirreling away rolls of state quarters as they were issued later found that these same rolls were the difference between financial survival and ruin.

We will never know, but we do know that so many quarters came back into the system that the Mint’s output is still well below the peak years from the early 2000s.

The Crain’s story is short, but by all means read it. Here is the link:

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."