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Spot that first 2017 date in circulation

Have you found a 2017 coin in your change yet?

Let me know as soon as you do.

It is fun to be the first on the block to have a new date. It will give you bragging rights.

If we go by the historical track record, it will be a cent on which 2017 will be spotted first.

However it could be an America the Beautiful quarter or a nickel, depending on how long it takes for the first report to arrive.

About the only denomination that never seems to be in the running is the dime.

Because coins are released through the nation’s banking system, the stronger the economy is, the earlier the new date appears. Banks only order coins when they need them.

A strong economy is the basis of coin demand.

Is the economy powerful enough this year for an early new date find, or will we be waiting until almost February?

While public confidence might indicate an early release, I can also present a negative scenario.

I just took a look at the Mint’s final month of coin production for 2016.

It was less than 700 million coins in December.

For the entire year, coin output was down by over one billion pieces, from 17.05 billion to 16.02 billion.

That’s a six percent drop.

This is also bad news for new date hunters.

If the economy demanded fewer coins last year, it could easily do so again this year. This would delay 2017 coin releases.

The growing impact of electronic payments can also negatively influence coin demand, delaying release.

In any case, last year’s production drop ended the uptrend that had started after Mint output hit lows in 2009 not seen since the 1950s.

The record year of coin production was 2000, when 25 billion coins were made.

That was a good year to find new the new date early. The Mint was working hard to get those initial state quarters into the hands of the people.

What’s in your hands?

Check them out and tell me what you find.

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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