Four lucky collectors in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, and Mississippi were the first to submit to Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) examples of the new 2019 America the Beautiful® Program Idaho quarters with the elusive West Point mintmark.
The fortunate finder in Arkansas discovered more than 300 2019-W Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness quarters on October 29, a week before the United States Mint officially began sales of the coins on November 4.
As part of the year-long PCGS Quarter Quest program, the four submitters will split a $2,000 bounty and each receive $500. Their coins will carry the encapsulation insert pedigree of "First Discovery." The submitted coins discovered in Arkansas and Louisiana before the official release will also be labeled "Early Circulation."
Any submitted 2019-W Frank Church Wilderness quarters received within the first seven days after the PCGS First Discovery has been confirmed will automatically receive the First Week of Discovery pedigree. Qualifying coins submitted after those seven days and within 45 days of the PCGS First Discovery will automatically receive an "Early Find" pedigree.
"The Quarter Quest has been an exciting program for the last eight months, and while we are sad to see it come to a close for 2019, we are thrilled to have been able to bring the hunt back to the hobby and inspire so many new collectors," said PCGS President Brett Charville. "We look forward to creating more prize and special pedigree opportunities like this in conjunction with the Mint’s future releases."
Teacher and author Brenda T. of Arkansas told PCGS she was seeking 2019-W San Antonio quarters when she visited a local bank to purchase coins on October 29. She was told by a teller that only the Idaho coins were available, and she purchased five boxes of those quarters.
"I found a W in the third roll I opened, and I was shaking. After calming down, I started going through the next four boxes and found over 300 W quarters," said "Early Circulation" and "First Discovery" winner Brenda T.
She has been an avid collector of the 2019-W quarters since the launch of the Quarter Quest earlier this year. Adding her latest winning quarter to her set will make her the first to achieve the coveted 100% completion in the PCGS Quarter Quest category (www.PCGS.com/setregistry/composite/7203). There are currently 90 collectors competing to be the first with a 100% complete set in that category.
The other "Early Circulation" and "First Discovery" winner of 2019-W Idaho Quarter Quest is business owner David M., a long-time collector from Louisiana who told PCGS he drives into Arkansas and Mississippi to buy boxes of coins from banks in those states.
David M. said he started excitedly thinking, "Jackpot! Jackpot!," when he located several 2019-W Idaho quarters in the five boxes of coins he purchased.
The two other "First Discovery" 2019-W Idaho submitters are chemical distribution company sales representative Karl P. of Maryland and telecom company sales representative Chris C. of Mississippi.
Karl P., a newcomer to coin collecting this year who recently joined the PCGS Collectors Club, has been searching for West Point quarters since June and was both delighted and astounded when he discovered an Idaho coin.
"I was surprised because the Idaho [coin] came out of a box with W quarters of San Antonio and (Guam) American Memorial Park," he told PCGS.
"I saw the W side first and when I flipped it over, I didn’t recognize the park because the Idaho coins were supposed to come out later. At first, I thought it was a mis-strike because I was not familiar with the Idaho design. Then I felt like I hit the lottery! I did some research and saw the upcoming Idaho design, and a buddy of mine said I should send it to PCGS," explained Karl P.
Chris C. was also seeking 2019-W San Antonio coins when he purchased six rolls of quarters at a regional bank. A veteran of roll hunting during his 14 years of collecting, he learned about the PCGS Quarter Quest from a local coin club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
After finding a 2019-W quarter in one of the rolls and submitting the coin for certification, he told PCGS:
"I couldn’t believe it was there [in the roll]! I didn’t find any San Antonio W quarters, but I was surprised to find an Idaho one."
In addition to the cash bounty, these four First Discovery winners will also receive a hand-signed label from award-winning artist Emily Damstra who created the reverse design of the 2019-W Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Idaho quarter.
All First Week of Discovery submitters will also have the option to add the special signature label to their eligible coins at no charge.
For a limited time, PCGS is offering Emily Damstra hand-signed labels to all PCGS Collectors Club and Authorized Dealer submitters of 2019-W Idaho quarters and other United States coins featuring her designs. Guidelines for ordering those signature labels are online at www.PCGS.com/labels/EmilyDamstra.
PCGS has created an information page for the PCGS Quarter Quest at www.PCGS.com/2019quarterquest where coin hunters can check on updated bounties, see if a PCGS First Discovery has been graded and authenticated, and review the terms and conditions for the promotion.
For information about PCGS products and services, including how to submit your coins for authentication and grading, visit www.PCGS.com or call the PCGS customer service department at (800) 447-8848.