In general, more coins are needed and produced in a good economy, while less are needed in a slower moving economy. Economic times seems to have improved at least slightly in recent months, per the evidence provided by the United States Mint regarding the higher mintages of Yosemite National Park Quarters. More Yosemite quarters were struck than either Hot Springs National Park Quarters or Yellowstone National Park Quarters.
According to the U.S. Mint’s figures, 70,000,000 Yosemite quarters were produced, compared to 68,400,000 Yellowstone and 59,600,000 Hot Springs quarters. (See all America the Beautiful Quarter mintages and how they break out per facility.) The numbers were given early in August and are still considered “preliminary production figures only,” since official mintages usually are not printed until January of the following year.
Denver struck the same number of Yosemite coins as Yellowstone quarters, which was 34,800,000. The extra 1.6 million Yosemite quarters came from the Philadelphia facility, where 35,200,000 were minted.
The new America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program started in a year with a lackluster economy, compared to the bustling economy that was happening during the extremely popular State Quarters Program from 1999 until 2008. For some perspective, the highest minted coin in that time period was in the year 2000 for the Virginia State Quarter at 1,594,616,000, and the smallest was in 2008 for Oklahoma at 416,600,000.
Production numbers really dropped off in 2009, declining with each new design of the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program®. By the time the last coin in that series was made, the Northern Mariana Islands, only 72,800,000 were struck.
Then, the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program started in 2010. Since fewer coins were needed, the Mint struck 59,600,000 Hot Springs Quarters. For now, Hot Springs holds the lowest mintage of any circulating quarter since 1955. The record could change, however, since the Mint is allowing bulk orders.
In the “Question and Answer” section of the Mint’s web site concerning its bulk purchase program, the Mint leaves open the possibility of restriking earlier designs. It states:
“Orders for previously released coins will be accepted as long as unassigned inventory exists. The United States Mint may produce additional coins to satisfy orders throughout the year for the first few designs if time and resources permit; however, there is no guarantee, and orders may be refused. As the end of the calendar year approaches, flexibility in supplying previously released quarters diminishes. Additionally, Federal Reserve Bank orders will take precedence over the bulk purchase orders, which may affect the United States Mint’s ability to fill new orders for previously released coins.”
Collectors generally do not want the Mint to restrike a design. Low mintages are desired. It can become a big factor in a coin’s value in years to come. In many cases, scarce coins are worth more.
The next coin in the America the Beautiful Quarters series will be the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter. It will be released on September 20, 2010. The final issue in 2010 will be the Mt. Hood National Forest Quarter on November 15, 2010.