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Unbury those coins

Longtime readers of my writings know that I try to draw a conclusion about the health of the American economy by how fast coins of the current year reach collectors through ordinary circulation.

My data points, such as they are, are mixed.

In a gangbusters economic year reports should be coming to me from left, right and center in January.

That did not happen.

I asked in my Jan. 20 blog whether readers had encountered any new coins at all and received a small number of emails reporting sightings.

The earliest report could be pinned down to the week of Jan. 11-Jan. 17.

That is not particularly early, but it could signal a normal economy, which is something that would be a relief to many of us who have lived through the last seven years.

By the middle of February all of the circulating denominations had been spotted.

In the past week, the dam broke so to speak.

I have had emails in some numbers reporting sightings of 2015-dated cents in many parts of the country.

Usually, my readers reach this pitch of interest earlier in the year.

That puts me back to looking at the 2015 circulating coin experience as a big question mark as to what it signals for the economy.

It can be pointed out that cash is not as important as it once was.

It might be said that even collectors have lost interest in their current coinage, though a recent reader poll suggested a roughly 50-50 split between collectors who find change worth a look and those who don’t.

Certainly the collectors who are noticing what passes through their hands sound like the collectors of old.

This recent email demonstrates that:

“Record amounts of snow and coldest recorded months here in New England has hampered a lot of spending and traveling. I found my first 2015 coin yesterday, February 25, 2015. I have been actively searching and asking at different stores. My first coin from 2015 is the Harry S. Truman Presidential dollar coin from the Philadelphia Mint. No luck on the other denominations.”

The writer is from Worcester, Mass.

Perhaps he pinned down the reason for this nagging slowness in new coin release and why the reports to me are heavily skewed to the South and West.

Could it once again be winter weather that is slowing the economy down as it did last year?

This year's circulation finds might have been buried by the snow in Boston and other places.

Spring cannot come soon enough.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."