US Mint makes a Mint off new programs

If you suddenly find a shiny new buffalo nickel in your pocket, don’t fret – you haven’t hit a time warp.

It’s just the U.S. Mint rolling out another special-interest coin. The new nickel that rolled into circulation in February is the third of four designs that celebrate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition (you can see the latest design below on the left side of the page).

Consider also the 50 state quarters that are still in the middle of their 10-year roll-out, and that adds up to a lot of activity for a mint that can go decades without a coin redesign.

Creating product for a hungry market of existing coin collectors – while building up a new generation of numismatists – is one of the chief goals for the mint. To that end, the state quarters comprise “the most popular coin program in U.S. history,” said Henrietta Holsman Fore, director of the U.S. Mint. More than 140 million people collect them. (Each state quarter is minted for 10 weeks only. The final state quarter is due to be issued in 2008.)

To help pump up interest among youngsters, the mint even offers educators a wide array of lesson plans and other educational materials on its Web site.

Every new coin design means a whole list of new collector items the mint can market, including proof sets and rolls or bags of uncirculated coins. Add that to items that are produced only for the collector market, such as commemorative issues and gold coins, and it all makes for a lucrative business.

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Category - Informative
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