Numismatists may not be a dime-a-dozen—pun intended—but it is not the name of a new planet. Numismatist is what you call a coin collector. The hobby of coin collecting is called numismatic.
The launch, therefore, of a new quarter last week that featured the CNMI’s American Memorial Park was catnip to many numismatists from the U.S. mainland, who came all the way to Saipan to witness the event.
One of them is Mark Miller from Pennsylvania, who said that he has witnessed 18 or 19 out of the 47 U.S. quarter design launches. “Some coin collectors that are also here have gone to way more events than me. Traveling for coin launches is not really a thing for all coin collectors but it is just something that I am able to do.”
“I have a lot of fun traveling around and I find each one of these events has its own unique flavor and character to it,” he added.
The launch last week in Garapan was the 47th quarter coin design of the U.S. Mint under its America the Beautiful Quarters program. The new coin features the park on the tail side of the U.S. quarter.
Miller got started 20 years ago when he began collecting statehood quarters. “It got sillier from there. I found the statehood quarters interesting and, when I go to the bank to get the new statehood quarter, family and friends would instantly know and I would give some to them,” he said.
“There is kind of a general statement for any ‘collecting,’ whether it is art or exotic chinaware. A lot of people think and mistake it as, ‘Ohh, I want collect this stuff because it’s going to be worth something someday.’ It’s really the wrong perspective to have,” he said.
Miller collects coins because of the “art” that goes into designing and making a coin.
“A lot of people do not think of coins as an artwork but it is absolutely art. So, while I’m collecting coins, I’m actually also collecting art,” he said. “There are actually some beautiful and intricate artwork involved in [crafting] the coins.”
According to U.S. Mint director David Ryder, who was at last week’s launch, revenue from commemorative and ceremonial coins amount to at least $200 million a year.
He said that U.S. Mint projects include partnering with allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Spain.
A joint program they did with Australia, called the Apollo men quarters project, about $50 million in revenue.
Ryder said that the U.S. Mint is vigilant in fighting counterfeiting.
“China has become a real problem as they will counterfeit anything for profit and they are very good at it and that is why we are always protecting ourselves. The metals that we use are very prevalent in a lot of countries, which is why I am considering [using] new metals,” he said.
“A simple machinist with a good machine can print out a pretty good dime. …If you counterfeit enough of them and…your net profit at the end of the day is 18 to 19 cents [for quarter], that’s not bad business.
“The U.S. Mint never had an anti-counterfeiting program… and so I have set up and spent a fairly large amount of money to get new staff and technology to try to take care of a not so simple problem…” he added.
As for Miller, his next stop after the CNMI is Guam for the “War in the Pacific National Historic Park”quarter launch that will be held on June 3, 2019. “I am looking forward to it as it is another piece to add to my collection. You see, it’s also not only the coins, but the memories that goes with it in every launch in a different place,” he said.