|(ARA) - With malls a frenzy of crowds and parking lots filled to capacity with cars, holiday shopping is often a punishing experience. Clothing styles change, people’s sizes change, prices change -- for holiday shopping, change is the only thing you can count on.
For this reason, unconventional gifts often make the most lasting of impressions. Coins make a great gift item -- not only because of the artistry on each one but also because they symbolize lasting worth and timeless beauty.
Since the advent of the United States Mint’s popular 50 State Quarters Program, more families are collecting coins than ever before. Grandparents sharing a family collection with their grandkids not only brings families closer together, it brings generations together.
Coins have fascinated people for thousands of years. The collecting of coins started as early as the Renaissance when princes and kings collected ancient Roman coins. In fact, prior to the 20th century, people of culture could not be considered truly refined unless they owned a variety of antiquities -- fossils, sculpture, paintings, artifacts, scientific instruments, classic literature and coins. It is in this tradition that coin collecting was known as the “hobby of kings.” As coins became more widely used in various societies, including the United States, coin collecting became a pursuit of people from all backgrounds.
Coins reflect the symbols, traditions and values of bygone eras. Moreover, they inspire us to learn. In this way, coins are little history lessons in your pocket. Many U.S. coins feature prominent 19th century American explorers -- from the Golden Dollars featuring Sacagawea to the new Jefferson nickels featuring scenes from Lewis and Clark’s historic expedition. The depiction of Monticello, Jefferson’s home, that has been on the back side of the nickel for more than 60 years will be temporarily replaced with different scenes from the Lewis and Clark expedition directed by America’s third president. Monticello will return to the flip side in 2006.
These coins would make a great addition to any collection, or as a starting point for new collectors. The United States Mint is selling a two-roll set of the current Jefferson nickels -- the last of its kind until 2006 -- for $8.95. For more robust collectors, a 1,000-coin bag of the Jefferson nickels can be purchased for $79.95. A two-roll set of Kennedy half dollars or a single roll of 25 Golden Dollars featuring Sacagawea each cost $35.50. These coins were not produced for general circulation in 2003, and make perfect stocking stuffers for fans of hard-to-find coins.
The United States Mint Proof Set is another classic gift item, featuring proof versions of circulating coins, and all five of the 2003-dated state quarters packaged in a protective display case.
As an added bonus, the United States Mint’s Web site offers a variety of family-friendly educational features for collectors of all ages. The H.I.P. Pocket Change section of the site, www.usmint.gov/kids, makes it easy for those on your list to learn more about the coins in their collection. Through the site, your whole family can learn how coins are made, what coins are used in other parts of the world, and even download coin-themed screensavers. Better yet, it is a fun way to keep children learning when school is out.
First Day Coin Covers, blending the state quarter with a handsome envelope cancelled the first day of the coin’s release to the Federal Reserve, make great gifts and are suitable for framing. For those who want not only one of the state quarters but its counterpart state stamp from the United States Postal Service, the 50 State Quarters Greetings from America Portfolio and State Card Sets are wonderful additions to any collection.
The United States Mint also sells gift certificates in a variety of denominations that can be redeemed for collectible coins and other United States Mint products. Better yet, they can all be shipped directly from the United States Mint to your home.
This year, give your family some of history’s most popular gifts -- coins. Not only are they great keepsakes and lasting reminders of holidays gone by, buying coins online will help reduce the frustration of hunting for a parking space and contending with the hordes of shoppers at the mall.
Yule be glad you did. The U.S. Mint’s Web site address is www.usmint.gov.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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