In an unusual move, the San Francisco Mint is striking circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters to be sold in numismatic products or sets later this year.
While the San Francisco Mint has struck proof versions of the America the Beautiful Quarters, until this point they have never struck circulating quality versions. It has been many years since any circulating quality coins have been struck with an “S” mint mark.
To the best of my recollection, the last time the San Francisco Mint struck circulating quality coins with the “S” mint mark was the 1979-S, 1980-S, and 1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollars. The first two years were issued for circulation and within the annual mint sets. The final year was included only within mint sets.
The 2012-S ATB Quarters would not be issued for circulation, but only included within numismatic products.
Within an article for Coin Update, I have some quotes from Michael White of the US Mint Office of Public Affairs, which provide some indication of the US Mint’s motivation/intentions for the new products.
We were looking for a new numismatic product with an “S” mark. Feedback we had received from customers was that there was always great anticipation with products that had the “S” mint mark.
We felt that an “S” mint mark on America the Beautiful Quarters would bring some additional visibility to the program. A business case was developed that supported moving forward with the product. The quarters that will be produced will be circulating quality and sold as numismatic products.
While it remains to be seen how the offering will be received by collectors, so far it seems more interesting and exciting that some of the other types of newly introduced products. Early within the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, the US Mint introduced a slate of “new products” which consisted entirely of the same coins found within existing products, simply remixed or repackaged.
I recently wrote a post exploring some areas where the US Mint has the authority to alter coins or create numismatic products. One of the areas that I mentioned was “Use of Different Mint Facilities or Finishes”.
In response to my inquiries about the new offering, the US Mint indicated that information on the “products/sets” which would include the circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters would provided once the details become available.
An article published in CoinWorld indicates that the coins will be sold within 100-coin bags and 40-coin rolls. The article also indicates a maximum mintage of 1.4 million for each of the five designs. If this is true, the mintage for the given product type seems too small.
Sales for the US Mint’s “P” and “D” mint marked El Yunque National Forest Quarters within bags and rolls have already accounted for 2,386,400 coins. This makes about 1.2 million coins per mint mark. I believe demand for bags and rolls of the “S” mint marked coins would be many times greater, similar to how demand for the Chester Arthur Presidential Dollars within bags and rolls has been multiples of the demand for the previous James Garfield products.
The high demand and limited supply would create the scenario for an instant sell out. This would likely be accompanied by gridlock on the US Mint’s website, complaints from customers who could not place orders, and immediately higher secondary market prices. This seemed to be a scenario the US Mint tries to avoid (because of the complaints), so it is surprising that they would set it up once again.
Going forward, the US Mint has not yet determined whether the production of circulation strike America the Beautiful Quarters at the San Francisco Mint will continue in subsequent years.
Some oddities behind the offering of circulating quality 2012-S America the Beautiful Quarters include the fact that this occurs in the third year of the program. This expands the expected scope of a complete collection and means that some albums will be missing spaces for coins. Also, these uncirculated quarters with the “S” mint mark will not be included in the 2012 Uncirculated Coin Set that just went on sale today. While unusual, there is some precedent for this. The 1999-P and 1999-D Susan B. Anthony Dollars were not included in the annual mint set, but sold within a separate two coin set or bags and distributed for circulation.