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Wow, I Got a Guam
September 14, 2009

I might have said something like that when I was 10 years old, but the kid collector in me still bursts forth now and then. It did so again on Saturday.

I received a Philadelphia Guam quarter in my change at a Wal-Mart in Appleton.

This part of the country is the tail end of the coin distribution network. When something reaches me, it usually means it is pretty well distributed across the country.

Whether this is true this time is questionable, but it is interesting to be able to report that even with the reduced mintages totaling just 87,600,000, a Guam quarter has made it to me in Wisconsin. The Philly mintage total is 45,000,000. That is just 1/20th the Philadelphia total for the Virginia state quarter struck in 2000, a year of record Mint production.

Let's assume for a moment that my obtaining the coin does indeed mean supplies are pretty well spread across the country. What would that indicate?

This design is just one behind the current one, which is the American Samoa quarter that was released at the end of August.

If distribution is occurring, even at lower quantity levels, the reports of the economy bottoming out might just prove to be true.

For many years I have taken a reading on the economy in January by how soon I get a cent and other denominations with a new year on it. When the economy is really humming, cents are usually out in the major metropolitan areas within a day or two of New Year's and they make it to me by the second or third week of the month.

Of course, this year was different. Very different. We had the worst financial crisis in the United States since the Great Depression. This depressed the usual commercial demand for coins and banks trying to survive weren't ordering.

Time goes on. Conditions change. Perhaps the Professional Life Lincoln cent will be showing up in my change real soon.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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