W is more than the 23rd letter of the Latin-based alphabet. While it is the chemical symbol for tungsten and used as an abbreviation for watt, in numismatics, it is an elusive mintmark found on only by a few dedicated hunters.
With 2 million quarters produced by for each of the five National Parks Quarters issued in 2019, it represents from 0.5 to 1-percent of the total production for each coin. Yet being in the shadows of the nation’s capital and running a business that sees a lot of cash, the only W mint quarters I have found were shown to me by a customer asking about them.
Most of the reports of W mintmark quarter finds have been from roll hunters. They buy rolls from the bank and search. But I have searched the rolls I buy for the shop and not found any W mintmark quarters.
I might offer a bounty for someone bringing one into my shop. I am not sure what I have to trade. I have a roll of 40-percent silver half-dollars I used to give to children when they come in and show an interested in coin collecting. That might be a fair trade!
How about you?
Today I was able to see a West Point Mint struck Lowell National Historical Park quarter. The problem was that it was not my coin.
One of my regular customers came into the shop to ask about the quarter. He had heard that there was a bounty issued to find the first quarter and wanted to know if I could help claim the prize.
I was surprised when he dropped five 2019-W quarters in my hands. After I explained that the first-find bounty was claimed, I asked how he found five coins. The answer was obvious: roll hunting.
My customer works in the Baltimore area and stopped in a few banks to buy a few rolls. He said that he could buy two rolls at each bank without the tellers complaining that he is not a customer. When he searched through the rolls, he found the five coins.
I do not know why I was surprised by the coin roll response. It would make sense that if the U.S. Mint were sending the bags directly to the Federal Reserve for circulation, the rolls would be at the banks rather than in circulation. Large retailers usually get their change from logistics companies who specialize in transporting large sums of money. Small retailers may have a small batch of coins that are just stored and not circulated. Both situations are not conducive to forcing coins into circulation.
Then I read that one of the PCGS $5,000 First Discover winners found the coin at the end of a roll.
When I closed the shop earlier today, I opened the five rolls of quarters I purchased from my bank on Thursday. To put it in baseball terms, I am oh-for-200 with a batting average of .000! That is definitely below the Mendoza Line!
This week, the Professional Coin Grading Service announced that they would provide a $5,000 for the first collector to send in a new 2019-W Lowell National Historical Park quarter. By Friday, PCGS announced that two people won the prize. Each will receive $2,500.
Fifty cents = $5,000: The two Quarter Quest-winning PCGS First Discovery 2019-W Lowell quarter dollars side-by-side. (Photo credit: Professional Coin Grading Service www.PCGS.com.)
During the week, I had two occasions to go to the bank and purchase rolls of quarters. Even though I asked for new rolls, most of the quarters I received were either from 2018 or non-W mint quarters from 2019. In the shop, I checked every quarter received for payment and when I received quarters in change.
The competitive side of me wanted to be the first, or amongst the first to find one of these quarters. Even after running errands earlier today, I did not find any coin struck in 2019.
PCGS is still rewarding those who find the W mint quarters with special labels and cash prizes. Even though the top prize was claimed, I want to find one in change!
And now the news…
April 8, 2019
When you rifle around in your purse for some change soon, you might be lucky enough to pull out a new 50 cent coin, launched today by the Royal Australian Mint to celebrate the International Year of Indigenous Languages. → Read more at theconversation.com
April 9, 2019
Country continues tradition of honoring icons of art and science over politicians on its currency. → Read more at soranews24.com
April 9, 2019
Australia has issued a new coin celebrating some of the country’s indigenous languages, many of which are at risk of extinction. → Read more at cnn.com
April 10, 2019
Why is gold valuable? For thousands of years, gold has functioned as a store of wealth that sees its value climb in times of economic or societal unrest. Gold jewelry has been a sought-after luxury good since before the dawn of the first civilizations. → Read more at gainesvillecoins.com
April 10, 2019
SARANAC LAKE — Stephen Krupka’s metal detector beeped and wailed as he passed it over the soft ground Tuesday afternoon. “Looks like we’ve got a nickel signal here,” he said. Kneeling down, he took out a serrated hand trowel and cut a plug of grass from Denny Park on the corner of Pine Street and Bloomingdale Avenue. → Read more at adirondackdailyenterprise.com
April 11, 2019
A treasure hunter has struck it rich after digging up a 500-year-old gold coin that could be worth more than £4,000 ($5,200), but refuses to part with his rare find. Gareth Millward unearthed the coin in a field near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and says it is the highlight of his four-year hobby. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk
April 12, 2019
(Kitco News) – Wall Street is split on the near-term direction of gold prices, while Main Street remains bullish, according to the weekly Kitco News gold survey. → Read more at kitco.com
A few weeks ago, I wrote that when the U.S. Mint issues new coins into circulation, the U.S. media does not say much. Again, other than the American Legion promoting their commemorative coin, finding news in the non-numismatic press is rare.
Imagine my surprise when perusing my search of numismatic-related news in the media comes up with an article about the upcoming “W” mint quarters! The story appears on al.com, the website of The Birmingham News dedicated to cover the news for Alabama.
For those who did not see the news, last week, the U.S. Mint announced that for the first time, they would be adding the current War in the Pacific (Northern Mariana Islands) quarter America the Beautiful Quarter Series to bags of coins in Philadelphia and Denver. It will take a few weeks before these quarters will appear in circulation.
The article was a summary of the U.S. Mint press release with additional information about the America the Beautiful Quarters.
Kudos to the reporter, Leada Gore, and al.com for publishing this story!
And now the news…
March 27, 2019
SPRINGFIELD — Heads up, artists. The United States Mint is hosting a design competition looking for artists capable of creating the obverse, or heads, side of new commemorative U.S. Coins celebrating the game of basketball and benefitting the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. → Read more at masslive.com
April 2, 2019
Often it isn’t until a recession or times of economic/financial panic occur that middle-class Americans and conservative investors truly consider the impact of gold on their portfolio. While diversifying into precious metals shouldn’t be a decision you make without research, there are opportunities to invest lightly so you can begin to understand the potential that certain metals might have for your financial future when the dollar dips, but gold and silver stay stable, perhaps even growing. → Read more at topnewsgazette.com
April 3, 2019
The U.S Mint is releasing new limited edition quarters. → Read more at al.com
April 4, 2019
Two metal detectorists who discovered an unprecedented treasure trove of coins after searching for 30 years may be wishing that finders were indeed keepers. Richard Miles, 56, and Reg Mead, 77, are at odds with officials over the valuation of their discovery in Jersey that is recognised as the world’s largest hoard of Celtic coins. → Read more at thetimes.co.uk
April 5, 2019
An amateur metal detectorist scouring the grounds of a field in Kent has discovered a perfectly preserved gold coin dating back almost 2,000 years. It is emblazoned with the face of Emperor Allectu who is being touted as the first Brexiteer after he took Britain out of the Roman Empire during his reign around 293AD. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk
April 5, 2019
The owner of a Vancouver coin shop who defrauded customers out of $1.4 million was sentenced in federal court Friday to four years in prison. → Read more at columbian.com
One of the reasons why I continue to search through my change every day is because there will always be something cool to find.
After coming home from a long day setting up my new store, I emptied my pockets so that I could wash the jeans I was wearing. As I dumped the change on my dresser there was a different but distinct sound. It is the sound that could have only been made by a silver coin.
It was a day where I made two trips to a local home improvement and office supply stores. I paid using cash for all of these trips.
As a side note for those who have not quite reached the age that you can join the AARP, some of us still use cash. Other than for security of my personal information (remember, I used to be in the information security business), it allows me to collect change that I can search for something cool.
Flipping the coins over I was looking for that distinctive gray of a worn silver coin. Then it appeared. A well-traveled 1952 Washington Quarter.
It’s worn, has some rim dings, the rim on the reverse is flattened to where it is bleeding into the letters, but it is something you usually do not find in change.
It is not worth much as a collectible but it has about $2.95 worth of silver.
I am going to drop it in the coin bank I use for some of my more interesting finds and keep it for a while.`
With so little happening in Congress regarding numismatic-related legislation, it should not be a surprise that I would become excited I am alerted that there was something to see.
The excitement wore off when I saw the bill that was introduced.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.R. 5308 with the initial title of To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.
The text of the bill is not available, yet.
The Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote. It was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. To amend the constitution, it passed the House of Representatives on May 21, 1919, the Senate on June 4, 1919, then by 36 of the 48 states on August 18, 1920.
How do you create a design to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment? Will there be one quarter per state? If so, what would be on Maryland’s quarter? Maryland rejected the amendment in 1920, the legislature ratified it in 1941, but the vote was not certified until 1958.
Then there is Mississippi that rejected the amendment in 1920 but passed it in 1984 becoming the 48th and last state to ratify the amendment (Alaska and Hawaii were not admitted to the union at the time and are ineligible to vote on the amendment).
While it is appropriate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, maybe it should be a commemorative coin with the proceeds going to an organization like the League of Women Voters.
H.R. 5308: To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 15, 2018
Although I have been writing about something other than coins, I continue to expand my collection. Most of the items I have been buying are ordinary like the uncirculated National Parks quarters struck in San Francisco. I also have been filling some of the holes in my albums. Nothing really extraordinary. I did pick up a 1915-S Barber quarter and an 1883-S Morgan dollar, both in about extra fine (XF) condition. I like the coins but these are not something to write about, until now.
A recent purchase: 1897 Barber Dime
Almost every series has at least one key coin. The one coin that is not that difficult to find but if you are trying to stay within a budget, it is something you hope to find at a good price. For these coins, I am just looking for a coin that appeals to me regardless of the grade. Sometimes, if it is a good buy, I can drop my standard just a little. After all, I love bargains.
In this case, I dropped my standard a little to pick up a coin that would only grade very good (VG) to fine (F). Not only did I get a good buy but when I received the coin it had a nice look that the online images could not convey.
My new purchase is a 1932-S Washington Quarter.
1932-S Washington Quarter (obv)
1932-S Washington Quarter (rev)
Between the 1932-D, which I own, and the 1932-S there were fewer Washington quarters struck in San Francisco (408,000) and Denver (436,800). Granted, it is easier to find higher quality quarters struck in San Francisco, but to find a decent quarter that survived from having only 408,000 minted is a very good thing.
And I paid less than the value listed in various price guides!
With this purchase, I can now say that I have a complete set of silver Washington quarters in my blue albums. Next, I will work on completing the Standing Liberty quarter set so that I can say I have every quarter of the 20th century.
As with every show I attend, I try to find something neat. Something a little different. Something to show you that you can enjoy collecting numismatics that do not have to be plugged into a blue folder, a brown album, or entombed in a plastic case by a grading service. These are great items that have meaning and, for the most part, are affordable.
My find from the Spring 2014 Whitman Baltimore Expo was not discovered while walking the bourse floor. It was an opportunity that came available during the board meeting for the Maryland State Numismatic Association. One of our Board members is Ed Craig who is also president of the Maryland Token and Medals Society. As part of the meeting, Ed showed a limited edition elongated quarter that Maryland TAMS produced to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of the poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry” by Francis Scott Key.
For a reasonable price of $10, you get an elongated 2013 Fort McHenry Quarter with a design featuring the Baltimore Battle Monument on a ribbon to be worn on Defender’s Day. An elongated quarter in a flip is also included and both are attached to a card with a brief history of the Baltimore Battle Monument.
An 1838 lithograph of the Battle Monument in Baltimore
When they rolled the quarter to create the design, it was imprinted on the obverse of the quarter. You can see the Fort McHenry quarter design through the flattened reverse.
I will be wearing the one I purchased this August at the World’s Fair of Money in Chicago.
Maryland TAMS is making a very limited number of these sets available for $10 each. If you cannot pick up your set, they will ask you to pay postage to mail it to you. If you are interested contact Maryland TAMS through their website at mdtams.org.
Cover of the Maryland Token and Medal Society souvenir card.
Cover of the Maryland Token and Medal Society souvenir card.
Closeup of the elongated quarter that is part of the Maryland Token and Medal Society souvenir card.
Back cover of the Maryland Token and Medal Society souvenir card.
Click on images to see larger versions.
Over the last few years I have been trying to come to grips with the aging process. I waited a few years before joining AARP, I spent the time to take care of health issues, and I even took to heart an article written for the AARP magazine that asks what I want to be when I grow up (which I will write about another time). Looking back, my return to my collecting interests was the beginning of what would blossom into a full blown mid-life crisis.
I decided to give into my mid-life crisis and as long as it does not affect much, my wife is letting me go.
As a teenager of the 1970s, I was entranced by the muscle cars of the day. I wanted a muscle car but I was too young and could not afford them. I remember that the three most popular cars where I grew up was the Pontiac GTO, Pontiac Trans-Am, and the Ford Mustang. My neighbor had an Oldsmobile Cutlass but only had the 350 cu. in. V8 which was nothing like the Olds 442 engine!
L-R: 1970 Dodge Challenger and a 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible are still desired American muscle
I have always had an appreciation for the cars built prior to 1980. Actually, with few exceptions, I enjoy seeing all cars built prior to 1978, about the time that cars became bland. Exceptions are the Corvettes made any time and the new Dodge muscle cars particularly a Dodge Challenger R/T Classic.
By now you are probably asking what this has to do with coins, other than it will take a lot of them to buy a car?
This past weekend I attended the annual Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show. With more than 60 cars and motorcycles, it has to be one the larges classic car show at least in this region. Anyone who loves old cars will feel like a kid on a playground when you climb over the hill into the field. This is the same show that I found the Plymouth Gold Duster brochure advertising the “Old West” Coin Collection last year. While I did not find anything this year, I did have an encounter with classic coins in a classic car.
I was looking in a 1951 Hudson Hornet (here is the information about Jay Leno’s Hornet to see what a Hornet looks like since my camera died by then) and saw change in the ashtray. I asked the owner about the coins and he said that they were found in the car when he bought it from someone’s barn over 10 years ago. After he finished restoring the car he put the change into the ashtray for effect.
After talking with the owner I told him I collected coins and his eyes lit up. He reached into the car, scooped up the change, and asked if I could identify some coins he did not know anything about. As he was searched the coins he dropped a 1905 Liberty Head “V” nickel and a 1927 Standing Liberty quarter in my hand. He was surprised that I not only knew about the coins but had some back stories on them.
This 1927 Standing Liberty Quarter is similar to the one I found in the Hornet’s ashtray.
One of the problems was that he cleaned the coins. Apparently, they were so encrusted with junk and dirt that he thought that cleaning them would be a good idea. While both coins are quite common even if they were not cleaned, whatever value they had was reduced by the harsh cleaning. The silver coins are minimally worth their value in silver.
The car’s owner asked me to write down the information and returned the coins to the ashtray. I left him with some web links including a link to this blog. He asked me not to use his name and I hope he had a good time at the show. I know I did!
If you want to see the pictures I did take at the Rockville auto show, you can see the pictures on Photobucket.
Image of the 1927 Standing Liberty Quarter courtesy of MPG Coins
. The coin is for sale on their site.
On Monday, September 12, 1814 the British invasion fleet landed at North Point in Baltimore and tried to capture Baltimore by attacking Fort McHenry. Before the attack on Baltimore, the British marched through Washington, D.C. and burned the capital building. On their march to Baltimore, the British took Dr. William Beanes as a prisoner for his role in capturing British stragglers and deserters. Beanes was imprisoned in Baltimore as the Royal Navy gathered forces for their attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor.
Word of Beanes’s capture reached Francis Scott Key, an accomplished lawyer, prosecutor, poet, and friend of Dr. Beanes. Key, who was known as a skilled negotiator and a very temperate man, was asked by the Army to accompany prisoner exchange agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner to Baltimore to secure the release of Dr. Beanes. On September 7, 1814, Key and COL Skinner dined with British officers abroad the HMS Tonnant to negotiate the release of prisoners. Although Beanes was released, the British would not let the men leave the ship because they had heard about the British plans to attack Fort McHenry.
Key, Skinner, and Beanes watched as the Royal Navy bombarded the fort and surrounding areas of Baltimore. As the smoke cleared on the morning of September 14, 1814, after 25-hours of bombardment, Key was able to see the U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry. Key was so moved by the sight that after returning home, he wrote the poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” The poem was published in the Baltimore Patriot on September 20, 1814.
Following the War of 1812, Baltimoreans celebrated the victory every year on September 12 but did not gain statewide recognition until the centennial celebration in 1914, even though the celebration was overshadowed by World War I. Celebrations waned during the Great Depression until it became an official holiday in 1957. Defenders Day would become popular again in the 1980s with the help of the National Park Service and the Fort McHenry Guard.
Obverse of the Fort McHenry Commemorative Medallion for sale at the gift shop.
Reverse of the Fort McHenry Commemorative Medallion for sale at the gift shop.
This year, Defenders Day was celebrated on Friday, September 13. With a crowd of area students, area residents, dignitaries, and members of the Maryland State Numismatic Association, the Defenders Day celebration kicked off at Fort McHenry with the launch ceremony of the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine quarter.
With Ranger Bailey as the master of ceremonies, the program features Park Superintendent Tina Cappetta, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D), Representative John Sarbanes (D) whose district includes Fort McHenry, Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D) whose district covers parts of Baltimore not in Sarbanes’ district, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), and Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios.
Speeches were interspersed with a performance from the Notre Dame Prep (Towson, MD) Choir, ceremonial drills from the Fort McHenry Guard, and the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps. Prior to end of the ceremony, Treasurer Rosie Rios presented a special plaque with examples of the Fort McHenry Quarters to Superintendent Cappetta.
The ceremony ended with the dignitaries on the stage pouring a bucket of quarters into a old ammunition box.
Following the ceremony the dignitaries handed out quarters to to the students who sat through the ceremony. These children were attentive and appreciative of the ceremony and the quarter.
Clearly, the most popular person giving out quarters was Mayor Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore. Rawlings-Blake is a native of Baltimore, mother, and younger than the other politicians in attendance. It was clear that she connected better with the students than the other politicians.
After the quarters were handed out, the students toured the park visiting the various stations setup to teach them about why Maryland celebrates Defenders Day.
Fort McHenry Quarters display folder issued by the National Park Service
On my way out of the park, I made the obligatory stop in the gift shop. Surrounded by students having fun looking at the items for sale, I found a card issued by the National Park Service with the Fort McHenry quarters commemorating the fort. The back of the card says that a portion of the proceeds are donated to the National Park Conservation Alliance. I also purchased a commemorative medal with a hologram on both sides. The images on the obverse commemorate the Star-Spangled Banner while the reverse shows the fort.
Not a bad way to spend the morning in Baltimore before having to return to work.
All images owned by the author.