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Cent output the champ of 2010

Production of the 2010 Union Shield cent passed the 3 billion mark in the month of September.

The tally of 3,185,230,000 pieces is roughly one month’s production away from exceeding the Mint’s entire output of all coin denominations in 2009 when coin production fell to 3.548 billion pieces, a pale shadow of the year 2000’s output of over 25 billion pieces.

Though nobody but collectors seem to respect the cent these days, the fact that demand from the economy is rising is a good sign.

The denomination has been called a one-shot coin. The Mint strikes it. Merchants give it out in change. It then goes home and sits in private accumulations for months or years on end. The more transactions there are, the greater the need for cents. A growing economy generates the need for additional cents.

Though coin counting machines placed in retail establishments have reduced this effect, they have not eliminated it.

Cent production comprises over 63 percent of the roughly 5 billion coins struck in 2010.

Quarter production continues to be anemic. Just 5.8 million pieces were coined in Denver in September and even fewer – 5 million pieces – tumbled off the presses in Philadelphia.

Anybody who shops with cash these days often is treated to the full array of state quarter designs in their change. I just received a blazing BU New York from 2001. I also received a surprisingly worn Mississippi piece of 2002.

Huge output for the state program is now acting to dampen demand for new quarters.