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New dollar coin series could be fun

Coin collectors are well-known skeptics.

Is a new issue or coin finish something that is truly desirable, or just another way for the Mint to try to get more out of their wallets?

This innate skepticism is manifesting itself this week in reader responses to a question about whether the American Innovators dollar coin series will be better than the Presidential set.

But while readers were responding to the question posed on Friday, I had an email this morning.

It poses a simple question. “When will the American Innovators coins be released?”

Good question.

Very basic and important.

I don’t yet have an answer.

It will be a race for the U.S. Mint to get the single 2018 coin with George Washington’s signature on it to collectors before New Years’s.

Let’s hope it succeeds.

There is a market for it.

Another portion of the short email says, “Seems like a good Xmas gift idea.”

It does, doesn’t it?

Buy a small bag and put the new coins into family Christmas stockings.

It is guaranteed that the recipients will not know what it is.

They might not care to know, but that is the battle all coin collectors fight every day with noncollectors.

A good start to the series will be a big help.

The beginning of most series generates excitement.

This excitement wears off as the years pass.

But a good launch will postpone the onset of lagging interest.

Let’s hope the Mint has something up its sleeve both this year and next.

Keep in mind that this is sort of a hybrid beginning.

State quarters, America the Beautiful quarters, and Presidential dollars all began with multiple designs in the first year.

The American Innovators series has just one.

This might deflate the proverbial first-year-of-issue interest that usually bolsters demand.

That is why the Mint should treat this series as having two first years.

Something for the 2018 coin should be followed by a bigger something for the four 2019 designs.

Another point that needs making was also contained in this email.

The writer asks, “Are they non circulating? If so, are they still legal tender?”

Veteran collectors already know the answer.

For an appeal to newcomers, we have to make plain that even though these coins will not be released through the banking system, they are fully legal tender.

If a collector buys some from the Mint and needs quick cash, they will be spendable.

That is important in times of financial stress.

The financial crisis of 10 years ago taught us the lesson of families staying afloat with the help of state quarter rolls that had been stashed away.

The author of the Red Book, R.S. Yeoman, who joined Whitman in the depths of the Great Depression in 1934, told me many years ago that the success of the firm’s coin albums was hugely influenced by the many people who viewed them as a fun way to save money.

Fun and saving money are useful concepts as the American Innovators dollar coin series gets going.

If you are having fun, there is no time for skepticism.

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."