For many years I have written that changes to coin designs prompt people to look at their coins.
Once they do, some small fraction become coin collectors.
This theory worked in spades when the state quarter series began in 1999.
All America seemed to go wild for quarters. The Mint said nearly half the population collected quarters at the peak of interest, or 140 million.
That’s a lot of interest.
Designs changed on the Jefferson nickel in 2004 and 2005 to give collectors of that series two new reverses each year as well as a new obverse in 2005.
These new designs simply did not move the needle on the geigercounter of collector interest.
Were they overshadowed by the state quarter series?
Do people simply not care about modern nickels?
The only attention that the new designs created was in Congress when the Virginia delegation became upset that Monticello was displaced.
As a result, we now have a law mandating Monticello forever, or until a future Congress changes the law.
But with the return of Monticello in 2006, we also were treated to a new Jefferson design on the obverse.
Nobody but a very few collectors seem to have noticed.
So, we did get new designs. They are found in circulation. Average people should be exposed to them regularly.
The result is virtually nothing has changed.
Even when the price of nickel surged to well over $10 a pound almost a decade ago, making the coins worth multiples of face value, the hoarding that occurred was fairly minimal.
No new collectors seem to have sprung up from among the few who filled their basements with five-cent pieces.
Are modern nickels now so lowly that nobody cares what appears on them except the Virginia congressional delegation?
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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