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Cent questions have staying power

How many generations of cent emails will I get? I ask that question after nearly a year of emails relating to 2017’s newly discovered Lincoln rarities.


The Jan. 3 issue of Numismatic News reported the discovery of a 1982-D small date copper cent. Only one is known, but many people are looking for another.

Not long after that story made the front page, the next cent rarity to be found is the copper 1983-D cent. There is only one of these.

The 1982-D small date copper sold for $18,800 in August along with the copper 1983-D, which brought $17,625. Both were sold by Stack’s Bowers at the American Numismatic Association convention.

Naturally, such valuable cents found in circulation have spurred many individuals to look for wealth in their change. When they think they have something, they contact me.

I keep a handy link to a story that helps people learn the difference between large dates and small dates. Does it help? I hope so. But you wouldn’t believe the number of emails I get that just send photos of the common large date. Some ask if this is the rare one. Some don’t even bother to ask a question. Photos just pop up in my email. They even come from India.

I don’t know if it is related, but I had over 20 emailed photos from India one day. The images were of well worn and very common coins. When they kept coming one after another, I finally had to email a request that the sender stop sending them to me.

Such is the power of headlines and stories about the valuable Lincoln cents.

The next generation of emails I mentioned earlier started with India, but is not confined to it. I had an email this week where the sender sent me an image of a 1969-S cent. It simply said, “This is it.” Nothing else.

It was not a doubled-die. I replied that it looked like an ordinary 1969-S cent to me.

Another email from the sender said it weighed 3.11 grams and that’s rare, right? Wrong. Obviously, this year’s stories about cents of the wrong composition have been transformed to apply to other dates. Where that might lead, I don’t know.

However, I try to answer the questions and encourage the senders to keep hunting. I hope they will, but there is no way I will ever know for sure.

In the spring, I was not surprised about the appeal of these cent discovery stories. Now, as the year draws to a close, I have to say I am surprised by the number of emails I continue to get about cents. I hope I have the stamina to continue answering them in 2018.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

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