In the USA there’s something that unfortunately does not exist in Europe: a national week that celebrates numismatics – the National Coin Week. This year – starting on Sunday, to be precise – is already the 98th edition of the event. The sponsor and main organiser is the American Numismatic Association (ANA), which offers a series of events throughout the week. This year, the programme is somewhat limited and exclusively online due to the pandemic, but normally that’s different. In the past, dealers, collectors and institutions collaborated and made great efforts to raise public awareness for coin collecting by means of clever ideas.
The Purpose of the National Coin Week
For that is the purpose of the National Coin Week, as it was stated by the ANA as early as in 1925, one year after the first National Coin Week: “to disperse numismatic knowledge…to demonstrate that numismatics is an educational and entertaining pursuit…and to imbue other[s] with [an] enthusiasm and love for the subject”
President Reagan Was a Supporter of the National Coin Week
This mission was supported by the top of the top in 1983 when President Reagan officially established the third week of April to be celebrated as National Coin Week. His proclamation stated: “… coin collecting has educational and cultural value, promotes greater understanding of our history and heritage, and is enjoyed by millions of Americans.”
Given that so much support and effort was put into the project, it’s no surprise that coin collecting continues to be very popular in the USA. An important contribution to this is made by individuals who are extremely passionate about numismatics – dealers and collectors who want to pass on their enthusiasm for the subject. In order to do so, dealers often attract customers with special offers and discounts during that week.
2019: The Great American Coin Hunt
Let’s recall 2019, for instance, when these coin enthusiasts achieved a huge success: under the headline “The Great American Coin Hunt”, dealers across the country joined forces and put rare and old coins from their inventories into circulation. Their goal: to encourage people to take a close look at the coins they find in their change on a daily basis and thus generate enthusiasm for coin collecting. In this way, about 300 dealers put one million coins into circulation.
Even the US Mint participated in the project and put 2 million “America the Beautiful” quarter dollars into circulation, on which the mint mark W for West Point appeared for the first time in 2019 – the issue was obviously immediately a popular collector’s item. Briefly said, the attention generated by print, tv and social media made the campaign a major success.
A National Coin Week in Europe?
One can’t help but wish for such governmental support and, even more important, campaigns of the numismatic world to happen in Europe, too. Well, for obvious reasons it will not be possible to put 1916 coins into circulation in Euro countries. But I’m sure that we could do a lot more to get people interested in coins by means of creative ideas.
National Coin Week 2021
But let’s get back to the USA: The motto of this year’s National Coin Week is “Money, Big & BOLD”. Three anniversaries are the key subject of this year’s event: the reintroduction of the Morgan Dollar 100 years ago, the introduction of the Peace Dollar in the same year and the start of minting the Eisenhower Dollar 50 years ago, in 1971.
Due to the pandemic and like last year, the ANA only offers digital services for members and the public. They attract participants with webinar sessions on numismatic topics that can be attended free of charge after registration. Besides topics on American numismatics, a lecture on the coins of Caesar and Brutus will take place on 23 April.
In addition, individual coins from the ANA’s collection are featured on their website and articles published online. Trivia quizzes will be posted on the social media channels of the ANA, where coins can be won as prizes. In order to promote young numismatists, there are also special events for collectors that are younger than 17 years old. Furthermore, annual membership in the ANA can be purchased at a reduced fee during the week.
For more information on the events visit the website of the American Numismatic Association.
And here you can find out more about the Great American Coin Hunt (which does not take place this year).
If you’re passionate about original sources: You can find Reagan’s proclamation on the National Coin Week on the website of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.