In just a few weeks, there’s a very good chance you’ll have fruit bats in your pocket. That’s because the United State Mint will release a quarter on Feb. 3 featuring the National Park of American Samoa, which is home to the Samoan fruit bat.
It’s one of the largest bats on earth, with a three-foot wingspan.
“It’s very exciting to have a national park series because it inspires kids to want to visit national parks,” said Chicago coin collector John Kent. Kent visits schools with his coin collection as a way to inspire young people to engage in history.
The new quarter will be the latest in the U.S. Mint’s national park series, which was introduced in 2010 and has featured five new quarters each year. While the “circulation” quarters won’t hit the streets until next month, collectors like Kent were able to order “proof sets” Tuesday. Proof coins have sharper, more detailed images, Kent says, and are often dipped in silver or gold.
The national park series was preceded by quarters featuring all 50 states and U.S. territories. Fourteen-year-old coin collector Jack Smith says that while it’s possible to buy full sets of the state quarters, he prefers what collectors call “roll hunting.”
“Basically I go to the bank and I get rolls of coins and just look through them and take them back and just keep doing that again and again,” he said.
It’s “the art of the chase” he enjoys.
Kent and Smith are both members of the Chicago Coin Club, which marked its 100th anniversary in 2019 with – what else? – a commemorative coin featuring Buckingham Fountain and the Water Tower.