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No time to abolish quarters

Can you believe that the America the Beautiful quarter program has reached the 35th of its planned 56 issues?

Most collectors probably wonder where the time has gone.

Most of the general public probably don’t know and don’t care.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Since the state quarter program began in 1999, five designs have been issued in each and every year now for 18 years. (There were six in 2009.)

This was supposed to inspire new collectors.

The 91st design honoring Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument) in South Carolina, officially arrived yesterday.

However, the public excitement of the state quarters has given way to indifference.

We probably shouldn’t be surprised. Who can stay excited for 17 years?

The state program had a great run, but it was losing steam in its last years.

For collectors, the rhythm of new quarter releases has become routine.

For the public, it is simply huh?

The Mint is to be congratulated and thanked for its ongoing public release ceremonies for each design.

They fan interest in the pockets of population that surround the national parks, monuments, seashores, etc.

For the bulk of the desensitized public, however, we have returned to a situation where changing quarter designs are not recognized. They fly under the radar.

An original expectation that the public would eventually notice the diminishing number of pre-1999 eagle reverse quarters and hoard them has not come to pass.

With so many designs in circulation at the same time, every single one of them can be perceived as scarce and disappearing, but no rational public is going to hoard everything.

What does all this mean? It probably means that interest in quarters has fallen to the level of general public interest in all coins.

What could change that?

I suppose we could propose abolishing quarters.

Unfortunately, that would be excitement of the wrong kind.

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

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