The U.S. Mint held a Collectors Forum on April 1, 2009 in conjunction with the launch of the Puerto Rico Territorial Quarter. The forum was hosted by U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy. The Collectors Forums are designed to be informational sessions, where the U.S. Mint provides updates to the collecting community regarding its future plans, and where the Mint can get feedback from the public about its products and services.
Participants at the Puerto Rico Collectors Forum brought up some interesting topics, which are reflected in the 20 question and answer sections below. The questions were all asked by Forum participants, and answered by Moy, and are provided in a paraphrased (rather than verbatim) form courtesy of the United States Mint. My comments and clarifications are in italtics preceded by the "Ed:" (for Editor) designator. I have also rearranged the order of the questions to group similar topics together to provide for a clearer reading experience.
Puerto Rico Quarter Questions
(1) According to my calculations, the Puerto Rico quarter has the lowest mintage of the program. Is this correct? Yes, as well as the District of Columbia quarter due to lower economic activity. We are in the lowest production cycle in about 25 years. The lower mintage will make the Puerto Rico quarter even more popular due to the rarity.
(2) How many Ps and Ds were produced for the Puerto Rico Quarter? 139 million, almost equally split. (Ed: Ps and Ds refer to the Mint mark on the coins. P stands for the Philadelphia Mint and D stands for the Denver Mint.)
(3) Normally in the United States, both Ps and Ds circulate. In Puerto Rico, we only get Ps. Will we see Ds on the island? Yes, you will but it may take awhile. (The Director then briefly explained the distribution of Philadelphia and Denver coinage.) (Ed: Coins from each of the two major Mints are distributed to banks through the Federal Reserve System. Generally speaking, banks in the West get Denver coins and banks in the East get Philadelphia coins, with the Mississippi River being a rough dividing point. Depending on mintages from each Mint and economic factors (e.g. how many new coins are needed in each area) this dividing line varies. The coins then circulate in commerce, with people carrying them from here to there, and eventually coins struck at Denver will make it into circulation in Puerto Rico. But probably not very many.)
(4) Why is the inscription, E Pluribus Unum, on the quarter? By law, we are required to include certain inscriptions on legal tender coinage.
(5) How many Puerto Rico quarters did you bring to the island? I do not know – we make to demand based on requests from the Federal Reserve and normally the honoree gets a slightly higher number in distribution.
(6) Have you discovered any errors on the Puerto Rico quarters? Our purpose is to maintain the highest quality of coins produced. I am not aware of any but I am sure the collectors will notify us if they find any.
(7) Is this the first bi-lingual U.S. coin ever issued? I am not sure and will have to get back to you on that. (Note, it has since been confirmed that this is the first time Spanish has appeared on a U. S. circulating coin!) (Ed: Interesting how everyone seems to have overlooked this remarkable first! Advanced coin collectors know that Spanish coins were the primary circulating coins in America until around the Civil War period. Because of this, our value system is roughly based on the Spanish "Pillar Dollar" worth 8 Reals, although we wisely chose a decimal system rather than the octal (base-8) system used by Spain and its New World colonies. In light of this history, it is noteworthy that the Puerto Rico quarter bears the first Spanish inscription on a U.S. Mint circulating coin.)
Puerto Rico Quarter - Product-Related Questions
(8) Will we be able to purchase the Coin and Die Sets for the Puerto Rico quarter? You will be able to purchase the First Day Coin Cover but not the die sets. We re-evaluated our product portfolio and decided to prune products that do not sell well. This allows us to focus on the more popular products for our customers and to not tie up the machinery in production.
(9) Will you sell the collector’s spoon with the Puerto Rico quarter? We discontinued the spoons when the 50 State Quarters® Program ended. We are focusing production on the millions of proof sets that are so popular with the public.
(10) When is the silver Puerto Rico quarter coming out? Also, do you produce gold and platinum coated coins? The silver Puerto Rico quarter is already available in a six coin set. We do not make coated coins with precious metals, however, some of our competitors do. The metal content of our bullion coins is inscribed on the actual coin. (Ed: I find it fascinating that the U.S. Mint considers the commercial companies who use genuine U.S. coins to produce spurious micron-plated crap to be "competitors.")
Puerto Rico Quarter Design Questions
(11) Who picked the design of the Puerto Rico quarter? The design was determined through a democratic process. The Governor worked with a commission and proposed the themes and then the designs were developed by Mint artists. The designs were then reviewed by the Governor so there was local input. The sentry box speaks to the strength and history of Puerto Rico with the flower representing the natural beauty. These quarters serve as educational tools for all Americans.
(12) Did the designer of the Puerto Rico Quarter receive an award? The designer is very proud to produce such an important and historically significant design. Please note the initials of JFM on the coin. (Ed: JFM stand for Joseph F. Menna, the U.S. Mint Sculptor/Engraver who designed and sculpted the Puerto Rico reverse ("tails" side) coin die.)
(13) Is the flower on the quarter the “flor amaga” (the Puerto Rican hibiscus/official flower) or “amapola” (subspecies of the hibiscus family)? It is a generic hibiscus. The differences in color and other details are difficult to depict on such a small coin. (Ed: Especially since U.S. coins have only one color.)