By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez, COINage News Editor
The West Point Mint is making news this year by producing 2 million examples of each of the five 2019 America The Beautiful Quarters and releasing them directly into circulation. News of the W-mint quarters hit the general media in April, and within weeks came the first discoveries of the Lowell National Historical Park Quarter representing Massachusetts. Top-tier grading companies offered bounties on the first W-mint quarters submitted for certification, and some coin dealers offered hundreds of dollars to buy the first W-mint quarter to walk into their shops.
Millions began searching for W-mint quarters, creating a coin collecting frenzy among the public not seen since the release of the first 50 State quarters 20 years ago in 1999. Among the first individuals to find a W-mint quarter was Desperate Housewives actor Shawn Pyfrom, who took to social media to proudly show off his numismatic find. A little star power and a lot of public enthusiasm over the W-mint quarters has helped bring millions of dollars into the hobby. Many W-mint quarters are trading for $20 to $50 apiece, and with a total of 10 million W quarters to be made by the end of year across all five of the 2019 ATB quarters, the potential collective value of these coins is tens of millions of dollars.
"I think the initial wave of money in the buying of boxes, sorting them, grading them, and selling them is in the eight-figure range," says coin dealer Kevin Josephson of Infinity Coins, a dealer who says the price of typical-quality uncirculated "W" quarters has settled around $25. "They are providing some positive energy into the sport of sorting and finding coins. The smart new coin sorters are then finding friendly dealers who, if smart, are teaching the hobby to budding collectors." He says he's seen a "sizable uptick" in people coming into his shops and those of his colleagues, with many of these customers eager to learn more about the coins in their cases.
Coin dealer Rob Oberth, owner and founder of Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers, agrees the economic impact of the W-mint quarters and the new collectors they have helped bring into the hobby is strong. But he thinks the dollar figure may be even higher than just eight figures. "Even if only a small percentage of the [W quarters] make it to the market, that could likely amount to over $100 million," he says. "On average, the W quarters can sell from $15 to hundreds of dollars for graded examples."