Beginner’s Corner: The Business Strike

Learn about the different conditions that exist on business strike coins in this week's Beginner's Corner column.

Learn about the different conditions that exist on business strike coins in this week’s Beginner’s Corner column.

The business strike, sometimes called the circulation strike, refers to coins produced with the intent that they will circulate in everyday commerce (as opposed to a proof coin specially made for collectors). Business strike coins are usually less valuable than proof coins because so many more of them are minted, and fewer special precautions are taken in their striking. The change in your pockets, like pennies, quarters, and dimes, are all great examples of business strikes.

Business strikes often begin as strips of sheet metal that are unwound and pressed flat before being fed into a blanking press that will cut small planchets out of the sheet metal. Before the actual striking of the blanks, they are fed into an annealing furnace that softens the metal before striking. The struck coins fall into bins before they are counted, and they are then packaged into rolls or smaller bags. The entire process can leave scratches and imperfections on the coins themselves.

While the United States Mint strives to produce perfect coins, errors can arise when mass quantities in the millions are being struck. The name of the game with business strikes is balancing efficiency and quality to produce the most coins at the cheapest cost as opposed to Proof coins that are made to be collected.  

For example, if you refer to our Beginners Guide Entry on the Proof Strike Type, you will see that Proof coins are struck using specially cleaned and polished planchets. Business strikes typically are not.

Business Strike coins are given other names depending on their condition: mint state, uncirculated, and circulated.

A mint state coin is defined as a coin in new condition that doesn’t have any signs of wear, meaning it has never circulated. The term mint state is also interchangeable with the term uncirculated, which means the same thing. In contrast, a circulated coin means that the coin entered into circulation and generally possesses visible wear. Even if a coin has never circulated, that does not mean it will not have any flaws, as Mint-produced imperfections do exist.

Due both to their method of striking and tendency to end up as pocket change, business strikes or circulating coinage are often hard to find in high Mint State grades and, when they do, can sell for thousands of dollars.

In 2020, the United States Mint released select America the Beautiful Quarters that bear the “W” mint mark of the West Point Mint and a V75 privy mark to honor the 75th anniversary of the end of allied involvement in World War II. We have select 2020-W quarters available that are great examples of certified business strikes.

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