When I visited my mother last week, she had just cleaned out her purse.
All of the change that had accumulated was removed.
She remarked on how much lighter her purse was when she lifted it.
Interestingly, when I had first arrived, she still had all of the coins sitting on the dining room table.
I did not add it up, or even look at it really, except to note there were cents, nickels, dimes and quarters.
As she finished her task, she whisked all of the coins away except the cents.
“Would you like to look at the pennies?” she asked.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.
Had I just been hurled back in time to 1963 when I was eagerly checking every cent in the house?
She is 83 after all.
Was this her idea of my whole career in numismatics? I check pennies.
I have no way of knowing.
I simply sat down and began looking at the coins she thought I was interested in.
There were 40 cents on the table.
I sorted them by composition.
There were 14 pre-1982 95-percent copper pieces. The other 26 were dated 1982 and later.
That works out to 35 percent copper coins and 65 percent copper-coated zinc.
I did not bother to check the composition of the 1982-dated coins, nor did I look at the dates to determine the variety. That would have taken more time than I was willing to give to the effort.
My purpose was a visit and the usual tasks that occur during one.
In figuring the percentages, I simply lumped the 1982 pieces with the zinc pieces.
The oldest cent was a 1960-D. It was a small date.
The newest cent was dated 2014, and it was the only Union Shield design she had.
There is no way to know when the cents began dropping to the bottom of her purse. It could have been months. It could have been years. She did not know.
For a few minutes, I was back as I was in 1963.
“Would I like to look at the pennies?”
I guess this is a question I have been answering in one way or another for 53 years.
In always answering yes, I have been on a great adventure.
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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