Although the U.S. Mint has not formally announced it, on March 28, 2019, they will make the 2019 Explore and Discover Coin Set (Product Code 19XGB) available to the general public. It is the second of three sets to be issued this year designed to get kids interested in coins.
This set features new characters they call the Mighty Minters.™ According to the U.S. Mint, the Might Minters are “fun, diverse, and relatable ambassadors to children, parents, and gift-givers. Each character projects its own style while introducing a variety of new Mint products to kids.” Although the concept may seem cheesy to us alleged adults, those who deal with the diverse population daily understands that in order to get the younger people interested they have to be engaged on their level.
I know. I know. It was different when we grew up. Back then you could still find silver coins in pocket change. Wheatback cents were about as common as Memorial cents are today. People even tried to use Susan B. Anthony dollars in their daily lives before confusing it with a quarter.
But that was the past.
Today’s children have a much different view on things. For one, if they are 18 years old or younger, they were born after 9/11 or were an infant and do not remember what happened. They grew up with the Internet, smartphones, and computers everywhere doing nearly everything. You can get access to everything at almost any time while their parents always bought things online.
Not only is money still important but the United States government owns the world’s largest money manufacturing business. No other mint manufactures, sells, or is more profitable than the United State Mint. It is an agency that does not get enough credit for producing billions of dollars of goods that our economy thrives on.
The U.S. Mint’s products are useful and collectible. And while there have been a few design issues, it is able to produce millions of versions of the art that people carry around daily and with an error rate that should make any company envious.
Errors are a fun aspect of the hobby because the rate of the errors is low. This is likely why the U.S. Mint is including a blank one cent planchet in the set. Not only does it show what a coin looks like before it is struck, but it also introduces kids to error collecting.
The Explore and Discover Coin Set introduce kids to the full range of circulating products produced by the U.S. Mint including the longest running design in the Mint’s history: Victor D. Brenner’s Lincon cent design.
In addition to a 2019 Jefferson Nickel and Roosevelt Dime, they are introduced to the Kennedy Half-Dollar. One of the quickest coin designs ever produced, the Kennedy half-dollar is not circulated as half-dollars once were. Although there are a lot of theories as to why half-dollars stopped circulating, one was that the 1964 half-dollar, which was made using an alloy that was 90-percent silver, was saved by many in honor of the slain president coupled with the coin shortage that followed effectively ended the coin’s circulation.
Also in the set is the first 2019-issued Lowell National Historical Park Quarter and 2019 Native American $1 Coin featuring American Indians in the Space Program honoring the achievement of Native Americans dating back to Mary Golda Ross (Cherokee Nation), the first Native American engineer at NASA.
These are two coins that should help kids not only learn about the coins but also about the subjects they depict. This should not discount the dollar coin’s obverse of Sacagawea carrying her baby, Jean Paul Baptiste.
It is another opportunity for the hobby purists to weigh in on how the U.S. Mint is getting it wrong before it sells out!
Last week, the U.S. Mint reported that the sales of the Rocket Ship Set is close to being a sellout. With an announced limit of 50,000 sets, they said that 46,762 were sold.
The Rocket Ship Set is a coin product produced for kids to tie in with the space theme generated by the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin program. The set contains two coins: an uncirculated 2019 Kennedy Half Dollar an a proof Native American $1 Coin honoring American Indians in the Space Program. The coins are mounted on a card shaped like a rocket ship that glows in the dark and can be set up to stand up on a desk, shelf, or anywhere else.
The text an the card explains the significance of the coins in honoring the space program written for children.
When the set was announced, there was a lot of commentary how the U.S. Mint was wrong for doing this. I read and received emails saying that this is the wrong way to reach children that many thought this set would barely reach 15,000 units sold.
While the numismatic snobs were throwing around adjectives like “dumb” and “stupid” claiming it is “bad for the hobby” and wondering out too loud what the U.S. Mint was thinking, customers bought up 93½-percent of the available inventory in two-weeks!
Although we do not know how many of the sales are to dealers or other institutional buyers, the fact that there is that level of interest suggests the U.S. Mint might have a better idea as to what’s good for the hobby than the snobs.
As you know, I took on a project to fund a trip for the sixth grade class of Juniata Park Academy of Philadelphia so that they can visit the Philadelphia Mint and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to learn more about their money and how it plays into their everyday lives. I received a note from the DonorsChoose.org, the non-profit site the helped raise the funds, that Ms. Janas, the teacher at Juniata Park Academy, posted a note about the trip. She wrote:
We just completed our trip to the Federal Reserve and U.S. Mint on Friday. Even in the chilling temperatures, the enthusiasm was in full swing. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing all the money in both places we visited. Between coins and currency, the students were overwhelmed with how the coins originated, their artists and all the interactive activities that helped them understand how our money is made and all the safety measures that are taken to secure it. They could not believe that under the Federal Reserve Building were two vaults which each are the size of a football field.
They gave us samples of shredded currency at the Federal Reserve and we saw coins being processed in the U.S. Mint. Going through security screening was quite interesting because most of the students didn’t realize that any metal sets off the alarm and many alarms went off. It helped them understand how security works with government locations.
We will be going over our scavenger hunt that we completed at the Federal Reserve and additional information I received about the mint. Also this week one of our donors will be visiting our classroom to give us more hands on knowledge of coins. This was a great trip and we appreciate all of our donors giving us the opportunity to take this trip this year.
I am so excited for these kids and glad they got the opportunity to go to both places.
As promised, I will be visiting Juniata Park Academy. Aside from bringing pieces of my collection for them to see, I am also bringing gifts. After all, it is the holiday season! Since I will not be coming home right away, my cousin and I will be at the football game at Lincoln Financial Field (Go Big Blue!), I will report on my visit over the weekend.
UPDATE: Pictures were added to the original note at DonorsChoose.org. Go there to see them!
With many thanks to my readers and the numismatic community, the DonorsChoose.org campaign to fund the trip for Mrs. Janas of Juniata Park Academy class to visit the Philadelphia Mint and Federal Reserve has been funded!
It will be a great experience for the class to be able to visit both the Mint and Fed.
I had previously contacted Mrs. Janas and offered to travel to Philadelphia to give her students a presentation about numismatics in daily life. Now that the project is funded, I will make the arrangement to visit her class to provide a more hands on the convergence between numismatics, math, and economics. I will bring some “gifts” for the class so that they can have in-hand examples.
There aren’t the words to express how thrilled I am that this project was funded.
Last month I came across a listing on the fundraising site DonorsChoose.org to raise money for a class in Juaniata Park Academy in Philadelphia so the “students would love to expand their knowledge and be able to identify with the real world today and visit places around the area.” This would allow the class to visit the Philadelphia Mint and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank to learn more about our money.
Mrs. Janas of Juniata Park Academy in
Philadelphia, PA (Grades 6-8)
The project can be funded for a paltry sum of $512.92. With the donations matched by the Dottie Lutz Foundation, we can send underprivileged students to visit the Mint and the Fed for $256.46!
As I said in my original post, maybe a few would become interested in numismatics. Seeing the exhibits and learning how money is made can inspire these children to become collectors. And as inner-city students in a minority community, adding this diversity to the hobby is one of the best gifts we can give the hobby.
There is ONE MONTH to go on this project.
Previously, I asked to see if nine readers of the Coin Collectors Blog would step in with a $25.00 donation. Thankfully, it appears that only one person did step up. This effort now needs $413.00 to be funded meaning it will take is $206.50 in donations for this to be funded!
I am asking for everyone to give any
amount to fund this project.
It would be wonderful if the numismatic community stepped up to help fund the visits to the Mint and Fed for these students. Let’s see if we can influence some students to become numismatists.
Will you please join me?
There are no bigger heroes in daily society than teachers.
Teachers are entrusted with our children to teach them while working through the societal, social, and political issues to ensure that our future is educated. In the face of attack by people who think they know better and politicians who want them to do more with less, most teachers are dedicated individuals who are teaching for love. They cannot be doing it for the money because we misguidedly shortchange teachers who will use part of their meager salaries to buy supplies.
With the start of a new school year approaching, I would like to ask Coin Collectors Blog readers to help support a teacher in Philadelphia who is trying to raise money to take a field trip to the U.S. Mint and the Federal Reserve.
Mrs. Janas, a teacher at Juaniata Park Academy in Philadelphia, is trying to raise money to lease school busses to transport her students on these field trips. Her fundraiser says that her “students would love to expand their knowledge and be able to identify with the real world today and visit places around the area.” Visiting the Philadelphia Mint would be a great field trip!
The fundraiser is being hosted on a website called DonorsChoose.org. Those not familiar with the site, it was started in 2000 by a public school teacher without the resources to purchase books for his students. He built DonorChoose.org to bring together those who want to help with public school teachers who are trying to do their job with the little resources.
DonorsChoose.org is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation making all donation tax deductible to the maximum extent of the law. As part of the service, DonorsChoose.org has staff that vets every request and can work with the vendors to bring down prices. With some charities you worry about how much money is going to the project versus how much is being used in other fees. Not with DonorsChoose.org. On every project page they show you exactly where the money is spent. They are very transparent with their operations!
I learned about DonorsChoose.org several years ago and have tried to donate to at least one project every year.
Mrs. Janas is asking for $400 to lease the busses for the trips. Along with the other fees and a suggested 15-percent donation to DonorsChoose.org, the project can be funded for $512.92. However, donations to this project are being matched by Dottie Lutz, an advocate for education in the Philadelphia area. This project can be funded for a total of $256.46!
Aside that these children are the promise of our future, maybe a few would become interested in numismatics. Seeing the exhibits and learning how money is made can inspire these children to become collectors. And as inner-city students in a minority community, adding this diversity to the hobby is one of the best gifts we can give the hobby.
It will take at least nine readers of the Coin Collectors Blog with donations of $25.00 to fund this project after I make my donation. If my readers fund this project, I will contact Mrs. Janas and offer to travel to Philadelphia to give a presentation about numismatics in daily life to her students. Of course I will bring a few nicer items but the concentration will be on the convergence between numismatics, math, and economics.
UPDATE: I made my donation! I left a message on the page pointing to this post.
Will you please join me?
Are you a tooth fairy looking for something different to give leave that little loved under the pillow? Then the Royal Canadian Mint has an answer for you, especially if the toothless child is into coin collecting. Rather than leaving money, the RCM has produced a Tooth Fairy Gift Card with a special 25-cents Tooth Fairy coin.
Tooth Fairy legends started in Europe where it became a tradition to bury baby teeth as they fell out. Later, it became tradition to place the tooth under the pillow where the Tooth Fairy would collect the teeth, leave the children money, and give the teeth to the parents as a keepsake of their child’s growth. Whatever the tradition, the bottom line is the giving of money for the tooth. Why not make it memorable?
The card from the RCM also includes an envelop so that you can include more money than a quarter. For children in the United States, you can include other world coins if the child is a beginning collector or you can just leave some modern, legal tender alternatives. On either side of the border, an idea is to include the current Presidential $1 Coin or a few National Parks quarters. In Canada, the RCM has a animal and flower coins that would satisfy any child along with having the tooth fairy card.
Some traditions mark the sixth tooth as being special because it represents the strength in the child’s growth. For those, why not look at a large silver coin. the American Silver Eagle is a nice choice for U.S. children. In Canada, the 2011 Maple Leaf Forever silver coin with the three maple leaves is a symbol of Canada like no others.
I remember after the first few teeth how monotonous losing teeth became. This card could help a child along having those feelings.
This card is such a good idea, I wish I was playing tooth fairy for someone who could enjoy a card like this.
Images courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint.
The most popular way to collect coins is by date and mintmark, but that does not have to be the only way to build a collection. Some collections are built based on a single year, coin types, coins and tokens from a hometown, medals, transportation tokens, or the subject of the coins such as animals.
Children who are interested in collecting should start small and with manageable collections that can be collected from pocket change. By starting small with achievable goals, children can maintain their interest as they complete their collections.
Before you start a collection, sit with your child and set a goal by defining what will be collected and how it will be done. Although it is popular to collect coins from pocket change, buying coins from coin dealers, shows, or online auctions are certainly wonderful collecting ideas.
Let’s look at a few collecting ideas.
As you start to collect, you will need a few supplies to help manage the collection:
- A Magnifying Glass: Magnifying glasses come in various sizes and shapes. For children, it is best to have a handheld magnifying glass that is at least 4x or 6x power. Using a magnifying glass to examine coins allows the child to get used to closely examining coins.
- Coin Holders: Your child will need something to hold the coins collection. For these collections you have the choice of using 2×2 cardboard holders are Mylar flips.
- Cardboard holders are hinged cardboard that fold in half and measure 2-inches square. In the middle of each half are holes big enough to hold the coin. The holes are covered with a Mylar window to hold the coin. Cardboard holders come with different size holes for each type of coin. You can purchase holders that can be stapled or are self-sealing (I like self-sealing holders). The advantage of cardboard holders is that you can write information on holder.
- Mylar flips are hinged clear holders with pockets on both sides to hold the coins. Only buy flips that are made of Mylar. Plastic flips contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride) that will damage your coins over time. When folding new flips, make sure that the pocket openings are on the inside. The advantage of the flips are that they are less expensive than cardboard holders and coins can be easily changed and that the other pocket can be used to insert a paper label.
- Coin Pages: Once the coins are in a holder, you will want to arrange them to view. Coin pages are notebook-sized pages that have pockets that fit either of the holders mentioned above. You can also buy a loose-leaf binder to put the pages together. Dividers can separate multiple collections.
- Reference Book: You will need one book to learn what coins were minted for each year. Online resources are nice, but sitting at the table with the coins and holders spread out in front of you makes some online resources difficult. It is also fun to flip through the book at look at the different coin types and their prices. Two recommended books are:
- A Guide Book of United States Coins, known as the Red Book for the red cover that has been used for 65 years. A new version is issued every year with updated information and prices. It is a staple of U.S. coin collectors
- U.S. Coin Digest is a similar reference from another publisher. For ten years, this book has been good at bringing the latest information about U.S. coins. Newer editions include a CD-ROM with the contents of the book in PDF format. The PDF edition is easily searchable and portable for taking on trips using your smart phone or tablet computer.
Optional supplies include coin tubes to that fit each coin type, cotton gloves if you are going to handle uncirculated coins, and you can look into fancier albums with blank pages when the collection gets more advanced.
All of these supplies can be purchase at the your local coin store or online.
Year Sets are a type of collection that contains coins from one year. These collections can contain one coin per type or collect coins with different mintmarks. A good way to start is to collect coins from the child’s birth year. Children born 1999 and later have the added advantage of looking for State Quarters. Year sets do not have to be the child’s birth year. If the parents were born in 1965 or later, they could put together year sets of those years. We will discuss collecting coins from before 1965 later.
When collecting Year Sets, children may want to write an essay as to why that year was special. Those pages can then be inserted along with the coin pages to make the collection personal.
The State Quarter and National Park Quarter series has introduced many people to world of coin collecting. But you do not have to collect the entire series. You can collect quarters from areas the family has visited.
While on the road, challenge the children to find quarters from the state you are currently visiting. If you visit a National Park whose quarter has been issued, try to find one of those quarters while in the area of that park. The collection could always be updated when you return home.
Some travel spots sell tokens, medals, and even elongated pennies. Many are inexpensive and helps show that collecting does not have to be limited to coins.
If your travels find your family outside of the United States, collect coins from the country you are visiting. A site like Don’s World Coin Gallery could help you find more information about the coins in the country you are visiting. If you are visiting Europe, remember that the Euro is a common currency where each country designs the reverse of coins they issue.
Travel diaries or essays written when you arrive home could be inserted into the binder along with photos and other souvenirs to make it a scrapbook with coins.
Westward Journey Nickel Series
In 2004 and 2005, the U.S. Mint issued special nickels to celebrate of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 2006, the nickel was redesigned with a new portrait of President Thomas Jefferson. To collect this series, find the nickels dating back to 2003, the original design, along with the four designs issued in 2004 and 2005. Finish the collection with a 2006 nickel showing the new design.
Whitman Publishing produced a special folder for the Westward Journey Nickel Series that includes various types of Jefferson Nickels through since its first issue in 1938. The folder includes holes for other American nickels that can be filled in after visiting coin shows.
Lincoln Bicentennial Cents
Abraham Lincoln was the first presidential portrait to appear on a U.S. coin. The design by sculptor Victor D. Brenner has lasted over 100 years. On the 100-year anniversary of the coin and the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in 2009, the U.S. Mint issued four coin reverse designs representing Lincoln’s life. In 2010, the U.S. Mint issued a new permanent reverse design replacing the image of the Lincoln Memorial that had been used since 1959.
Collecting the Lincoln series can be expanded beyond just the 2009 and 2010 coins. The collection can include coins with the different reverses used. From 1909 through 1958, the reverse included two stalks of wheat surrounding the words “One Cent.” These are called “wheat ears cents” and can be found in pocket change with a little persistence.
For a bigger challenge, you can purchase the folder Whitman Publishing created to honor the Lincoln Cents. This colorful folder contains holes for older types of cents including the coins with the prominent “V.D.B.” initials on the reverse. It is a little more of an advanced collection better suited to teenagers.
Since 2007, the U.S. Mint has been issuing one-dollar coins honoring each President of the United States in the order that they served (you can find the release schedule on the U.S. Mint’s website). Aside from being a great learning tool, the coins can be used as a collectible challenge. Some of the ideas include:
- Collect the dollars of the presidents who were from your home state
- Create a collection of dollars of presidents who were once vice presidents
- Create a Mount Rushmore series by collecting the presidents whose busts are carved into Mount Rushmore. This collection will not be complete until 2013.
- Add to you travel collection by adding the dollar coin of the president whose home or library visited. This may require future planning since the practice of preserving presidential homes is a 20th century phenomena.
Coins Prior to 1965
Starting in 1965, the U.S. Mint stop making coins from silver. Over the next few years, people started saving the coins they were finding in change dated 1964 and earlier. Even though the nickel has been made from the same metals since the 19th century, they have been saved, too. While you can find coins from before 1965 in pocket change, it is a rare to see these coins in circulation.
As a challenge for teenagers, there are two ways to find older coins to create collections:
- Buy a “hoard” of coins from an online resource that sells coins by the pound. Most of these hoards are from people who grew up around the time of the Great Depression and started to save their change to have money should the economy crash again. As they pass on, their families sell the hoards to dealers who sell them by the pound. They can be fun to search, especially if you have folders nearby to fill the holes.
- Go to a coin show and visit the dealers who have “junk boxes.” Junk boxes are filled with lower grade and common coins that sell inexpensively. Dealers fill the boxes with items they bought as part of larger lots and allow collectors to hunt for what they want. The thrill is searching for the coins you are looking for in these boxes and finding them or finding something unusual. Dealers usually give children special treatment including a bigger discount on the price.
Where’s George (www.wheresgeorge.com) is not a collection but a site where you can track where your currency has been. You might have seen a one-dollar bill with a stamp that may say “Track me at www.wheresgeorge.com!” If you go to the website and enter the serial number from the front of the bill, you can find out where it has been. By entering the serial number, you can register where it is in your hands.
A fun activity would be to register on the Where’s George website and track where the bills you spend go. Before you can track your bills, you should buy a rubber stamp to let others know that the bill is registered at www.wheresgeorge.com. Stamp the bill and enter the serial number into the website. Go out and spend the bill and watch where it goes.
If you travel and are carrying a computer or smart device that can surf the Internet, take bills you receive from different areas, register it on the site, stamp it, and then take it to your next destination and spend it there. If you happen upon a registered bill, enter your find on the website and take it somewhere else before spending it.
To find a rubber stamp with the information, just do a search for “Where’s George Rubber Stamps” to find a dealer with ready made stamps.
It is with great sadness to report that Cameron Kiefer, 28, died on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 from an apparent suicide. Cameron was an accomplished numismatist who had won the 2001 CSNA Literary Award and the ANA Outstanding Young Numismatist of the Year in 2002. Subsequently he became a grader at the Independent Coin Grading Company when it was located in Colorado Springs. Cameron resigned from ICG in March 2008 to become a full-time coin dealer.
I briefly became acquainted with Cameron after I posted the story about his departure from ICG. After a few email exchanges where he seemed excitedly nervous, I wished him luck and said that I hope we can do business in the future. Running a business did not come easy for Cameron which may have lead to his unfortunate decision.
Cameron Kiefer was married and left behind two children, reported to be three and one years old. My sincere condolences go out to his family and wish for better times ahead.
UPDATE: Obituary and funeral information may be found at the Horan & McConaty Funeral Home.
A while ago, I heard from Donna Guthrie, teacher and children’s book author, who created a new website called Meet Me At the Corner. Meet Me At the Corner hosts kid-friendly videos about many topics of interest to kids. Kids are encouraged to produce a video about a topic of interest and submit them for the world to see. For those who need assistance, there is a video to explain how to make videos.
Donna wrote to me around Presidents Day to alert me about the new video about one kid’s visit to the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum located at the American Numismatic Association headquarters in Colorado Springs.
The video by Amanda tours the museum with and interviews ANA educator Rod Gillis. Amanda asks about coins, collecting, and the new Lincoln Cent issues. Amongst the tour during the video, Amanda is shown the two examples of the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel the ANA holds. Rod tells Amanda that one of the five known coins was sold last year for $4 million. Amanda does a great interview and probably does better than most adults!
Go to the site and watch the video. It is worth the time. When you are done, pass it along to a young numismatist for their enjoyment.