When I was a kid working on my first Lincoln cent set, the spot for the 1955-S stayed empty for a very long time.
It was frustrating.
The 44,610,000-piece mintage made it scarcer than the other cents of that year, but not scarce enough to be truly valuable.
I eventually found one.
It turned out to be the only one I ever spotted in change in over 50 years of looking.
I felt lucky because it was the last coin needed to fill the Whitman 1941 to date album.
Whenever I get nostalgic, I can open up the completed album and take a look at it.
Modern cent collectors can point to the four designs of 2009 to be similarly frustrating.
When was the last time you got one of these in change?
In fact, have you ever gotten one of them in change?
Many collectors have not.
Feeling frustrated, some write to me to ask why they can’t find them.
Just like the 1955-S, they have much lower mintages than other issues, but not low enough to be truly scarce.
Mintages are simply low enough to keep them out of your hands on a routine basis.
The scarcest of these cents is the Presidency design struck in Philadelphia.
Mintage is 129,600,000.
That is about two and half times the 1955-S mintage, but in the 54 years between the two coins, we got used to mintages in billions, even tens of billions.
Compared to these multi-billion figures, 2009 Lincoln mintage numbers are a drop in the ocean.
All eight pieces (four designs, two mints) for 2009 together have mintages that add up to just 2,224,400,000.
That is less than half the 4,994,800,000 cents struck so far in 2018.
No wonder the 2009 Lincoln designs are hard to find in change.
The most common issue was the Philadelphia coins showing Lincoln reading on a log.
Output for this one was 376,000,000.
This is roughly three times the lowest mintage of 2009, yet it seems to be no easier to find in change.
What I do not know at this point is whether the difficulty in finding 2009 Lincoln cents in change is inspiring the next generation of collectors to look all the harder.
I hope it is.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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