Skip to main content

More cents raise questions but what are they?

 This pair of images showing Lincoln cents was sent via email to editor Dave Harper.

This pair of images showing Lincoln cents was sent via email to editor Dave Harper.

The word is getting out about the rare 1982-D small date copper and the 1983-D copper cent.

Both should be known only in copper-coated zinc.

But this year, Numismatic News has reported the find of one of each in the 95-percent copper alloy.

Both were sold at auction in August at the American Numismatic Association convention.

A coated zinc cent weighs 2.5 grams.

A copper cent weighs 3.11 grams.

Here is a link to figure out weights with popsicle sticks if you don’t have a digital scale.

I hope it is helpful.

Many people, even collectors, do not have a scale to weigh cents.

But in recent weeks, as word spreads beyond coin collectors, I am finding that noncollectors have difficulty figuring out the difference between large dates and small dates even with photographs.

This morning in my email is a message from someone who did not even identify himself.

It appears he or she just set some cents on a counter and took two photos.

“Could u possibly help me with these.”

This is all that was written.

I sent the above link in reply.

I also wrote that the coins look to be common and worth just one cent each.

The good news is that people are looking at their cents.

Now, we collectors have to educate them.

Perhaps some will become coin collectors.

That is my hope.

The sender of these images obviously set them aside intentionally.

Otherwise, there would be more recent dates included in the mix.

Was the thinking of the email writer that everything dated from the 1980s and earlier would simply be sent to me?

I can’t know for sure.

How else do you explain a 1966 cent and the 1972-D?

Perhaps the sender has even heard of the Close AM 1992 cent.

That might be why there is an image of the obverse of a 1992 cent.

The rare variety is identifiable from the reverse.

It is unreasonable for me to expect someone to know these things when they clearly do not.

But is it unreasonable to expect a few more words in the question?

These words could be along the order of, “I heard there is a rare 1992 cent, is this one of them?”

Or, as I look at the other pieces, the writer might say, “I sent the 1989-D because it is from the 1980s, or because it is heavier than others.”

I just need something more to work with.

I hope the link will get the email sender on the right path.

In any case, let’s all keep looking at cents.

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."

• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.