I never found a 1909 VDB cent in circulation when I was looking to fill up the two Lincoln cent albums I started in 1963. I never bought one, either, or its big brother, the 1909-S VDB.
So when I received the email from Bob Fritsch that appears with this week’s letters that he had gotten the 1909 VDB in circulation, it certainly got my attention. I am delighted that he sent a photo along so I can share it with all readers.
It won’t win any plaudits from the condition-conscious collectors who now dominate our hobby. That’s too bad in a way.
Back in the 1960s when I was going at it hot and heavy to fill up my Whitman albums, it would have made my day and then some to fill the hole with the coin.
It’s not that I was unaware of grading back then. It’s not that I didn’t know the importance of top grades, but to be able to fill a hole in a coin album that had remained empty for months or years despite my best efforts was an unalloyed thrill.
That’s what this circulation find reported by Bob Fritsch reminds me of, those days and those thrills.
I did buy a 1909-S cent. This, of course, was in the days before Mint State grading. It was a brilliant uncirculated. It would be designated red today because of its original luster.
It was satisfying to buy it in 1969. I could check the coin off my list, but what I could not do was fill the hole in my album with it. The coin was in much too high a grade to risk placing in the cardboard holder with the other cents. I had to keep it in a rigid plastic holder.
That simple act of common sense that every collector must undertake if he is to advance somehow separated the coin from the set.
Yes, I knew I had it. It was off my list.
But the hole was still there.
Somehow filling those holes or not filling those holes had an effect on me that never quite left.
When I needed some money and had to sell the coin, the fact it was not in the album made it easier to do. I had never been one of those kids who took coins out of their albums when they needed money for the weekend. In a way, even though I needed the money and I sold the 1909-S, some years later, I still had not technically robbed the coin from my own set.
This probably would not make much sense to a noncollector, but I expect those of us who lived through the circulation finds era will understand.
It is a source of nostalgia. Readers still like to read what others are finding in circulation. They also like to brag a bit to other readers, because they will understand and applaud. I had a reader telephone me this week about what he was finding in his change. He had found numerous silver war nickels recently. He was excited as a kid to tell me about it, but he was so concerned about being identified that he would not put his experience into a letter. If you are willing to share, email your circulation finds experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will appreciate it. Readers will, too.