The Mint has issued the latest updates to its online calendar. On August 1, the 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Set; and on August 28, the bags and rolls of the America the Beautiful–Ellis Island quarter dollars.
The Enhanced Uncirculated Set (#17XC) consists of all the year’s denominations, in their regular compositions, but struck with specially prepared dies. The Mint has struck Enhanced Uncirculated coins on special occasions since 2013. The selective application of “enhancements” has varied, depending on the design of the coin. The 2013-W American Silver Eagles were struck with a soft, matte field and frosted devices, except where certain areas were carefully polished: on the obverse, the “blue” field behind the stars of the flag, the “red” stripes, the straps of Liberty’s sandals, the suggestion of the ground she walks on, and the date; on the reverse, the olive branch and arrows, the stripes and trim on the shield, and the ribbon in the eagle’s beak.
One of the several 50th-anniversary Kennedy half dollars of 2014 was struck with an Enhanced Uncirculated finish. In this case, however, there are no polished areas on the obverse, and the frosted devices are set off against a soft, matte field. on the reverse, the devices are frosted except for the stars and the details on the shield, which have a polished (but not mirrorlike) finish.
The obverses of the 2014-D and 2015-W Native American dollars that were included in those years’ Coin & Currency Sets had frosty fields with a smoother, Uncirculated finish in the areas of the skin and hair and in the stripes on Sacagawea’s sleeve. The reverse of the 2014-D coin has a frosty field, while the devices have a finer, matte finish. The 2015-W reverse has generally Uncirculated devices, with the flattest of these—the steel beam, the raised denomination, and the incused legend—reflecting more brightly than the detailed areas.
The coins shown on the Mint’s website appear—at least for now—to be standard Uncirculated coins, with no areas of enhancement. Perhaps the finish is too subtle to be captured in a product photo, or perhaps the coins are stand-ins until live product shots can be made. The product-information page says the coins will have “laser frosted areas and an unpolished field that accentuates design details, creating a unique contrast distinctly different from the mirror–like finish of proof coins.” This leaves a little room for interpretation—will the coins be treated exactly like Proofs, but with Uncirculated rather than mirrored fields? Or will the choices of laser-frosted areas be more individualized? The former seems likely, but here are some other possibilities:
- The Kennedy half, Roosevelt dime, and Lincoln cent could follow the precedent of the 50th-anniversary Kennedy halves, with shinier, Uncirculated reverse details (like the stars on the half, the motto on the dime, and the denomination on the cent).
- The Native American dollar’s Sequoyah reverse could have Uncirculated areas on the text, denomination, feather-quill, and circular borders.
- Regarding the five quarters, certain of the reverses offer more opportunity for polished areas than the others (e.g., the effigies on Effigy Mounds, the river on the Ozark quarter). As a set, however, the Mint will want them to present a uniform appearance. My hope would be for the entire circular border on each coin to be frosted, with an Uncirculated rim, providing five shiny rings when the lens is held up to the light.
The 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Coin Set does not yet have a price. Readers in various comment threads have reported seeing a prices of $40 or $50 that were removed shortly after the listing was first posted, but it’s unclear which, if any, of those reports are accurate.
What do you think—where will the enhanced areas be on the coins in the set? ❑
This post was updated on July 5, 2017, to do a better job of speculating what the potential finishes might be.