I was surprised to receive a 2009-D Professional Life Lincoln cent in my change yesterday.
Even eight years after the four special designs of that year began to be struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, I am startled when I see one.
The simple fact is I hardly ever encounter one.
Most collectors have had similar experiences.
I know the mintages demonstrate how scarce these coins are.
The collapse of the economy in late 2008 reduced new circulating coin demand to the lowest levels in 50 years in 2009.
Cent production’s decline was part of the general trend.
Congress could not have known what would happen when it authorized these markers of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
Congressional action occurred in the prosperous times of 2005 when annual cent mintage was just over 7.7 billion pieces.
Total mintage in 2009 was down by 70 percent from the 2005 level.
Further, where in 2005 this mintage was roughly divided in half between the two mints, the four designs and two mints meant the 2009 mintage was divided into eight parts.
Is it any wonder that it is difficult to find one of these coins in change?
For the Birthplace log cabin design, Philadelphia made 284,400,000 cents and Denver 250,400,000.
The Formative Years design with Lincoln sitting on a log reading had a “P” mintage of 376,000,000 and a “D” output of 363,600,000.
The Professional Life design shows Lincoln standing with the Springfield, Ill., State Capitol behind him.
The “P” production was 316,000,000 and the “D” number is 336,000,000.
The fourth and final design for 2009 was the Presidency cent with the unfinished dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia struck just 129,600,000 pieces while Denver produced 198,000,000.
The cent I received has the third highest mintage.
But I also have received the Presidency design as well.
In fact, I have seen all four designs in my change.
What I can’t say is that I have seen all of the “P” and “D” examples in this mini-set of eight coins.
Have I seen all eight?
I don’t think so, but I can’t prove it.
I did not keep a record.
I figured that even with the reduced mintages all would come my way sooner or later.
Since I can’t prove they have not, I will ask collectors who kept better track of things if they have gotten all eight pieces in their change.
Or are you still looking, too?
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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