Spring has officially sprung, and it would seem that the season of blooms and sunshine is also the season of the scavenger-type “hunt.” St. Patrick’s Day brings about the “hunt” for those lucky yet elusive four-leaf clovers; Easter calls for egg hunts enjoyed by kiddos and grown-ups alike; and this year, the season of April showers and May flowers boasts the first-ever “Great American Coin Hunt.”
While news of this nationwide event broke earlier this year, fanfare continues to climb as its kick-off draws near (even reaching “viral” status, according to some reports).
What began as a way to revive interest in numismatics has morphed into “the biggest coin drop in American history,” as program organizershave dubbed it. From April 21st through April 27th, an estimated one million collectible coins will be “dropped” back into circulation by coin dealers and collectors around the country. These hard-money enthusiasts will voluntarily use noteworthy coins from their collections to complete transactions at highly-trafficked places such as retail stores, grocery and convenience stores, airports, train stations – all with the hope of bringing about more awareness of and enthusiasm for the world of coin investing.
Levels of contribution vary by participant, and different dealers have pledged different amounts of coins to release, according to Coin World’s write-up on the event. Rob Oberth, one of the event’s leading founders, notes that most of the event’s 250-300 participating dealers will release around 2,000 coins, while others plan to contribute staggering amounts, like the former president of the American Numismatic Association, Jeff Garrett, who has pledged 25,000 pieces to the cause.
Not only does the Great American Coin Hunt work to increase interest in American coinage, but it also aims to re-infuse the U.S. circulating coin system with educational and historical pieces for the general public to enjoy. Coins such as the Indian Head and Wheat Penny, the famed Buffalo Nickel, the Ike Dollar, and others were initially introduced by the Mint not only to perpetuate the U.S. coin program at large but also as a way to educate the American population on significant milestones in our nation’s history.
In addition to popular collectibles, some dealers are releasing a limited number of specially marked common coins to be exchanged at their shops for "key date" pieces valued up to $100. These coins will be marked with hologram stickers and come with instructions for how the lucky recipients can redeem their prize.
Organizers of the Great American Coin Hunt described the event as a “grassroots campaign” born out of a one-year-long brainstorm amongst community members on how to revive interest in coin investing and perhaps even bring the lifestyle to new demographics. While the event’s website points out that “this idea is not really new,” and that “many dealers and collectors already do this on a local level,” the Great American Coin Hunt marks the first time an organized and concerted effort of this scale has been made at the national level.
Program founders lay out three main goals they hope to achieve with the event:
To “inspire a new generation of coin collectors and dealers”;
To “increase traffic to local Mom and Pop coin shops”;
To bring national attention to the coin investing sector, which to many, is not just a hobby, but a way of life.
Keeping in step with its “grassroots” crowd-sourced nature, the Great American Coin Hunt has enjoyed significant visibility on social media – by Coin World’s counts, as of late January, its Facebook campaign had already surpassed the 10,000-visitor mark. Fans can follow the conversation and get the latest updates by searching #GreatAmericanCoinHunt hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.
Organizers have also set up an interactive map where contributors can add pins indicating where they will be doing their “drops” throughout the week. Fans and participants can not only view all the release locations in their area with the click of a button but also see a holistic snapshot of all activities happening around the country.
The Great American Coin Hunt will take place the same dates as the American Numismatic Association’s annual National Coin Week. Hot off the heels of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program release, the 96th annual National Coin Week celebration honors the achievements of the human race and is appropriately titled, “Discover the Past, Envision the Future.” Over the course of the seven-day celebration, the ANA will host a variety of activities for members and the general public to get in on the fun. Such events include a design competition for an imaginary 2069 coin release commemorating breakthroughs participants envision taking place over the next 50 years; trivia challenges; and the opportunity to peruse archived materials from The Numismatist.
The Great American Coin Hunt is shaping up to what could be one of the most buzzworthy and hopefully impactful events for the coin investing world in recent memory. Head on over to the event’s website to check out what’s happening in your neck of the woods and catch up on all the latest details! See you out there on April 21st-27th!