Whether or not you collect coins, you might want to pay particular attention to your pocket change over the next several months as the first-ever Great American Coin Hunt is well underway.
Launched during this year’s 96th annual National Coin Week (April 21 through April 27), the event represents an effort to boost interest in coin collecting – and numismatics in general – by “seeding” general circulation monies with rare and unusual specimens. Hundreds of collectors, dealers, and organizations have joined forces to reintroduce an estimated one million Indian-head and Wheat pennies, Buffalo nickels, silver dimes and quarters, Eisenhower dollars, and other valuable coins into general circulation by exchanging them during common commercial transactions at malls, grocery stores, big-box stores, and other high-traffic venues across the nation.
In addition to unusual coins, you’ll also want to keep a look out for Silver Certificates (remember when you could exchange paper money for silver coinage?) and other old bills, while some dealers are also releasing limited numbers of common coins marked with special holographic stickers which can be redeemed for collector coins worth up to $100.
The Great American Coin Hunt website includes an interactive map that discloses both the entities participating in the event and the areas where specimens have been released. The feature is particularly valuable for those individuals in possession of metal detectors as some coins have been dropped or planted on accessible properties.
Even the U.S. Government Mint is participating in the event. For the first time in its 227-year history, the Mint will be releasing coins bearing the West Point “W” mint mark into general circulation. Though the West Point mint already produces coins for general circulation, the “W” mark has always been reserved for commemorative, proof, and bullion coins. Beginning in April, two million each of the five different “America the Beautiful” quarters will be sent to banks for general distribution. It may be difficult to believe, but the 10 million total represents approximately just one percent of the estimated total mintage of quarters in 2019, so specimens in optimal condition may be considered highly desirable.
But it’s not necessary to engage in the Hunt to satisfy particular interests. Commemorative coins have long served as reminders of important persons and events. This year the U.S. Mint honors the 100th anniversary of the American Legion and the first manned landing on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts on July 20, 1969.
Interested in learning more? Check out the resources listed below, and
Actor Finds Valuable 2019-W Quarter, Submits it to NGC (NGC) – Shawn Pyfrom
The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Coin Program (The US Mint) – Wide selection offered; limited quantities.
Check Your Pocket Change During the Great American Coin Hunt (Numismatic News) – Interesting description of event.
Great American Coin Hunt – Official site.
Mint Releases First Ever W Quarters into Circulation (The US Mint) – Includes explanation of mint marks.
Moon Landing 50th Anniversary – Apollo 11 (NISE Network) – This STEM education page has a great list of links.
Official Site of the United States Mint – Good intro to the hobby with “Collecting Basics.”
US Mint Announces W Mint Mark Circulating Quarter Collectible (US Mint) – Describes the America the Beautiful quarters offered in 2019.