American coin collectors have offered many creative suggestions to the U.S. Mint to generate new interest.
I recall several readers have suggested over the years that the Mint deliberately strike a rarity and put it into circulation for someone to find down the road.
It would be nice to get the general public to scan their change.
That is one way new collectors are born.
The America the Beautiful quarter series and the state program before it were supposed to get the public to look at their change.
Greater variety worked for a while.
But neither series has coins in it that are scarce, let alone rare.
It is the combination of variety and occasional rarity that would turbocharge circulation finds.
The British Royal Mint is doing something that will test this numismatic hypothesis.
It will issue this year 26 circulating 10-pence coin designs to highlight aspects of British life in alphabetical order.
The letter “C,” naturally enough, features cricket, the national game.
You can go on down the alphabet and imagine what might be depicted.
Interestingly enough, the World Wide Web is celebrated as British with the letter “W.”
I thought Al Gore invented the Internet.
Obivously, 26 designs are the variety.
It takes the United States nearly six years to issue this many different quarter designs.
Then the rarity aspect is handled this way.
The British are striking only 100,000 of each design for circulation.
That makes 2.6 million pieces total.
Sure, the country has a smaller population than the United States.
Its 65 million people make about 20 percent of the U.S. population.
The equivalent number for a U.S. quarter would be 500,000.
Will this work in Britain?
It will be interesting to watch it unfold.
Could America benefit and adopt the idea?
Stranger things have happened.
The state quarter program was taken from Canada’s 1992 25-cent piece program honoring the provinces and territories.
Will that mean the United States will decide to copy Britain in seven years' time?
That would be 2025.
There are worse things we can hope for.
Below is the full list of British themes:
A – Angel of the North
B – Bond... James Bond
C – Cricket
D – Double-decker bus
E – English breakfast
F – Fish and chips
G – Greenwich mean time
H – Houses of Parliament
I – Ice cream cone
J – Jubilee
K – King Arthur
L – Loch Ness Monster
M – Mackintosh
N – National Health Service
O – Oak tree
P – Post box
Q – Queuing
R – Robin
S – Stonehenge
T – Tea pot
U – Union flag
V – Village
W – World Wide Web
X – X marks the spot
Y – Yeoman
Z – Zebra crossing
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."
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