Vic Mason submitted these additional thoughts about the Mint's new circulating rarities. Thanks! -Editor
CONCERNS ABOUT THE ETHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF THE HIGHEST-GRADE CIRCULATING RARITIES THAT ARE NOW BEING INTENTIONALLY PRODUCED BY THE UNITED STATES MINT
I hope that when the first copies of the 2019 "W" quarters were made this year at the West Point Mint, the supervisory staff and production
staff of the United States Mint saved at least one copy each for themselves (given the historic nature of the enterprise), as "25-cent souvenirs, hot off the press," so to speak.
I say "hope" because, unless they did, there are likely to be virtually no Mint State 69 or 70 survivors of those five production runs of the Lowell, Northern Marianas, Guam, San
Antonio, and Frank Church Wilderness quarters. The only exceptions I can think of are those intentionally set aside for the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian
If they did save some for themselves, they do not realize – except for the coin collectors among them – that they are likely in possession of some of the "hottest" rare coins
that have ever been produced (inadvertently) by the United States Mint. Judging by the extraordinary four-, five- and even six-figure auction prices achieved by modern-coin
condition rarities in recent years, such innocently- saved pristine "W" quarters could, if properly handled, end up going for auction prices that make their owners' heads
spin. That's because the manner of production and distribution of the 2019 "W" quarters was to put virtually all of them directly into circulation throughout the country and
Those few carefully-handled coins that, as a matter of custom, go to the Smithsonian – two of each quarter design? – become extraordinary treasures, unbeknownst to the leaders
of the United States Mint. That's why the Mint supervisory staff, for their own sakes, need the assistance of a public- private partnership (PPP) from the numismatic industry
to provide the guidance that keeps everything in the production and distribution of these coins above-board and transparent. Leaders from the Mint and from the United States
Department of the Treasury are unlikely to understand the significance of a term like "condition rarities," as it applies to these new deliberately-created circulating rare
We know that the Mint staffers have developed plenty of experience and expertise in recent decades, using the most modern high-tech equipment, to produce perfect coins and thus
meet collector demand for specimens at the 69- and 70-grade levels. But they are unlikely to understand that it's not just the number that gives the coins their desirability
to collectors. It's the combination of the rarity of the coins and the frenzy of today's collectors putting together "registry sets" – another concept foreign to the
non-collector. The collecting community – probably unaware of that lack of sophistication among Treasury and Mint staff – could once again become cynical about the whole program,
if they thought "insiders" were operating for their own advantage.
So the Mint's leaders need the PPP to provide expert guidance in the setting of policy on the new circulating rarities – for example, those coins saved for notables and
those inserted into cereal boxes or other packages of consumer commodities for the general public to search for. Those pristine specimens will predictably be at the very top of
every collector's wish list. That is why I think the circulating rarities being sent to the Smithsonian should first be graded and encapsulated by third-party grading firms –
so that no one "in the know" could slip lightly-circulated substitutes into that collection to replace perfect but uncertified specimens.
These are just some thoughts I've mulled over recently, as policy and practice in these exciting new areas of coin collecting, grading, production and distribution
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
BENEFITS OF THE 2019-W QUARTERS PROGRAM (https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n27a16.html)
VIC MASON'S THOUGHTS ON U.S. MINT FORUM (https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n45a14.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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