I'm not a coin collector but when I was a kid my grandmother would give us rolls of wheat pennies and pre-1964 nickels for our birthdays. My mom told us they were more valuable than normal change because the old pennies were actually made with real copper and the old nickels contained mostly nickel.

Current coins in production contain very small amounts of precious metal. In fact, nickels and pennies cost more to make than their face value. CoinNews.net reported that a penny cost 1.76 cents to make in 2020 and a nickel cost 7.42 cents to make. Seems like a perfect example of government fiscal ineptitude, doesn't it?  Anyway, by habit, I always look at my change to see if maybe I'll score something pre-1964 or other randomly interesting coins.

I was hitting up the Pepsi machine at work the other day when an extra-shiny quarter caught my eye. At first glance, it looked like one of the coins the Mint began rolling out in 1999, during their 50 State Quarters Program. Side note: the Montana quarter was released in 2007. They minted the last one (Hawaii) in 2008.

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Thanks to my not-so-youthful vision, I had to really squint to read the back of this 2020 coin and when I did, I was somewhat shocked to see the word "BILLINGS" stamped on the top. The US Mint provides this close-up shot, where I circled the word Billings.

Credit: USMint.gov
Credit: USMint.gov

Why is BILLINGS stamped on the coin?

The coin is part of the US Mints America the Beautiful Series. We wrote about these coins last year when a bat was ironically featured on a 2020 quarter. The Marsh-Billings-Rockerfeller historic park is in Vermont and the US Mint describes it as,

The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont is the only national park dedicated to telling the story of conservation history and the evolving nature of land stewardship in America. It was the boyhood home of George Perkins Marsh, one of America’s first conservationists, and later the home of Frederick Billings. The property was given to the American people by its most recent owners, Laurance S. and Mary French Rockefeller.

Who would have ever guessed that the man responsible for the name of Montana's biggest city, would ever end up on the back of a quarter? Crazy. The latest in the America the Beautiful series is the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site quarter, released in February of 2021.


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