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Birthplace Lincoln mintages revealed

Final mintage numbers for the 2009 Birthplace Lincoln cent are now available.

For collectors who have been used to totals in the billions and billions, the numbers are refreshingly low. The question is, are they low enough to feed the current online trading frenzy, or will the market phenomenon begin to abate?

The Philadelphia Mint struck 284.8 million of the coins. The Denver Mint struck 350 million. The combined total is 634.8 million.

You have to go back to 1954 to find a combined annual cent output total that is lower.

If you want to look at simply the mintage of a single coin, the circulation strike 1968-S cent has a mintage of 261,311,507.

Looking at the value of the 1968-S, Coin Market lists it at $8 in MS-65. Of course, not all 1968-S cents make it to MS-65 and neither do all 2009 Birthplace cents.

Arguing the case from the other side, the scarcity factor for the 2009 is amplified because the coin is also a type coin. There will be no others like it. Every collector who wants an example of the design has to pull it from the pool of 634.8 million. Nobody has to buy a 1968-S cent to obtain the design type. Any coin struck from 1959 to 2008 will do.

As long as collectors remain anxious about obtaining specimens, the secondary market will be supported. But to make one last comparison to the 1968-S cent, it was midsummer 1968 before I saw one in change. Were we more patient then?

Before I say yes, I should point out that the secondary market frenzy that year was directed to the proof set, which also had “S” mintmarks on the coins. They were the first proof sets to feature coins with mintmarks. Eventually, that set’s price came down to earth, but it took a while.