Following the success of the five 2019 West Point national parks quarters that were limited to two million each, which helped increase interest in collecting coins from circulation, the U.S. Mint has announced that it will issue 2020 quarters with a “W” mint mark. However, this year something special is being added to those five limited-issue U.S. Mint quarters – a special privy mark on the obverse.
The privy mark, which is part of the master die for the coins, reads “V75” within an outline of the rainbow pool of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC and denotes the 75th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II. It will appear to the left of President Washington’s profile in the center of the left side of the obverse. While these are the second U.S. coins to feature a privy mark after the American Innovation dollars, they will be the first U.S. Mint quarters to sport a privy mark.
Privy marks historically have been grouped with mint marks as each has been used to specify where a particular coin was made. Although while mint marks were first used in ancient Greece to indicate under whose supervision a coin was produced, privy marks date to the 14th century. English coins made during the reign of King Edward III used secret privy marks to indicate when the coins were made.
Privy Marks on Modern Coins
In modern times privy marks have been widely used, especially by the Royal Canadian Mint and Perth Mint, among others, as part of the design of the coin used to add a symbolic aspect by connecting it to some special event or anniversary. For example, in 2017 the Royal Mint used a trident-shaped privy mark on its bullion and collector Britannia coins to mark the 20th anniversary of the debut of the silver Britannia coin. Other recent world coins with privy marks include coins in the Royal Australian Mint’s Kangaroo series, or the Somalia Elephant series from the Bavarian Mint that denote a particular major coin show such as recent ANA World’s Fair of Money shows.
Both the RCM and Perth Mint have issued special versions of their bullion coins to celebrate the 12 animals of the Chinese Lunar calendar using a privy mark for one of those animals on each year’s coin and limiting the mintage of those coins. The RCM has issued the widest range of privy marks on its coins of any major world mint. Perth’s panda-privy marked Kookaburra coins, which recently had a mintage of only 8,000 coins, have been popular with collectors.
2020 America the Beautiful quarters
The first 2020 quarters with a V75-privy mark will be the Weir Farm National Historic Site coin that is being released on April 6. In response to complaints from many collectors about the difficulty of finding the 2019-W national parks quarters in circulation, Mint officials are developing a plan to more widely distribute this year’s special national parks quarters beyond the random mixing into bags of P and D U.S. Mint quarters that was done last year. It should be noted that specific details of plans for the 2020 “W” national parks quarters have not yet been released.
The second 2020 quarters are coming on June 1 those for the Salt River Bay National Historic Park, which will be followed on August 31 by the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Historical Park coins, and on Nov. 16 by the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve coins.
The fifth and final quarter, the American Samoa coin which features a design of a mother and baby bat that is expected to be popular even outside the numismatic community because it has received a lot of attention on social media, will be released last with no release date available yet. That is because production of the P and D mint marked quarters of that design had already begin when the privy mark program was announced.
75th Anniversary of the End of World War II United States Mint Commemoratives
U.S. Mint acting director for corporate communications Todd Martin explained that these quarters are being issued as part of the mint’s overall program to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, which will also include a gold coin as well as silver and bronze medals. Mr. Martin noted that the period from May 8 to September 2 marks the 75th anniversary of those momentous events, which corresponds to the period in 1945 when the final battles of the war were fought and when the victors reached various agreements relating to Germany, war criminals, reparations and other issues.
The coin design review committees recently met to review proposed designs for those products with the CCAC recommending an obverse design with a dove in flight, while the Commission on Fine Arts recommended a design with a close-up of an eagle in flight. For the reverse design, the CCAC chose a design showing the sun shining on olive branches, while the CFA selected one with a V symbolizing victory combined with an American flag.
You can see the various designs the CCAC reviewed here. The final design selection will be made by the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
The 2018 introductory coin of the American Innovation $1 coin program was the first modern U.S. coin with a privy mark, which appeared on the coin’s reverse and depicted an eagle within a shield that features various agricultural and industrial symbols. Beginning with the 2019 American Innovation dollars, a small privy mark has appeared on the obverse below the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST,” that depicts a gear element within a gear, which incorporates part of the gear motif that was on the reverse of the 2018 coin.
Why V75 matters
The 2020 national parks quarters struck at the West Point mint and featuring a special V75 privy mark are numismatic firsts and a one-year only program to honor the 75th anniversary of one of the most important and consequential events of the second half of the 20th century.
A key element of the program’s overall success will be whether the U.S. Mint is able to deliver on its promise to distribute the coins more widely than were the 2019 W national parks quarters so that they get into the hands of more collectors who find them in change. Whether one is a young collector on a limited budget or a seasoned adult numismatist, there is something exciting about finding a coin in circulation that is worth more than its face value.