Representatives from the U.S. Mint spoke with Oklahoma coin collectors in an open forum on the eve of the Oklahoma state quarter launch. The collectors gathered Sunday afternoon at the Oklahoma History Center to discuss the new quarter and ask questions relating to the minting of American coinage with Daniel P. Shaver, acting deputy director of the mint.
What did hobbyists learn?Shaver said that there will be between 500 and 550 million Oklahoma quarters made and that the popularity of the state quarters series has made thousands of new coin collectors. Shaver fielded questions and dispelled rumors about the proposed Ronald Reagan dime and the reasons behind the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin issued in 1979. "There actually was a need for more dollar coins in circulation at that time. Mass transportation companies were using them as tokens,” Shaver said. As far as the Reagan dime, don't expect to see it on the mint's schedule any time soon. Shaver also took the time to explain technical details about the finishing on coins that audience members brought to the forum, and about the cost and consistency of the penny. "Pennies are 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper,” Shaver said. "It costs about 1.6 cents to produce each one.” Hobbyist club members, retailers and at least one local politician were in attendance, as well as active collectors like Anu Pugalia of Oklahoma City. "I've been waiting since 1999 for this day, watching the mint's Web site and also tracking ceremonies and launches through the media.” Pugalia, 32, was introduced to numismatics, or the study of coins, by his father. "I've been collecting coins since I was 8 or 9 years old. I'm also a stamp collector,” Pugalia said. "I was here about a year ago for the launch of the Oklahoma Centennial stamp. It's been an exciting year. I'm glad I had the opportunity.” John and Marlene Highfill of Tulsa are private retailers and numismatic educators. The couple have spent their lives collecting coins. John is also the author of a book on silver dollars. "Most people don't understand how detailed and technical numismatics really is or the difference between a proof and a circulating coin. It's also a mystery to most people how you make money by selling money,” Marlene said. Nearly all the seats in the room were filled. People attending Monday's 11 a.m. launch ceremony at the History Center will be able to buy $10 rolls of the quarters, with a limit of 10 rolls per person. Only cash will be accepted. A special commemorative set may be bought for $5, with a limit of five sets per person. A free quarter will be given to each child under the age of 18 attending the ceremony, Shaver said.
The state's new quarter, left, was shown Sunday at a forum at the Oklahoma History Center.