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Cents through gold

It is back to basics week for me as I read through emails.

That is a good sign for organized numismatics.

I hope it means new individuals are arriving in the hobby to take up coin collecting.

One inquiry asked what “P&D” meant as used in regard to sets.

Veteran collectors know that those letters refer to the mintmarks on coins designating the mints of manufacture, Philadelphia and Denver.

Another email inquired about a small die break that filled in the top loop of the “9” in a 1956 Lincoln cent.

I wrote back that these sorts of die breaks were very common on the cents of the 1950s because of deficient die steel used to strike them at the time.

This is also the cause of what are called “BIE” errors on Lincoln cents.

The name refers to small die breaks that fill in the area between the letters of LIBERTY and is a literal reading of some of the coins where the filled area occurs between the “B” and “E” and looks like the letters BIE.

There are thousands of examples of this type of error and some collectors enjoy getting as many as they can.

But they don’t get rich doing this.

The cents basically have no added value other than that of curiosity.

A 1950s cent that is in a nice Mint State grade will be valued on the basis of the overall condition rather than the error.

The image of the 1956 cent sent to me shows a coin has seen quite a bit of wear.

You probably can’t get more than face value for it unless someone is paying to accumulate wheat cents.

On an unrelated note, I see gold has passed the $1,300 mark this morning.

It is beginning to look like 2015 could be a replay of 2014. That being the case, let’s check back in March and see where we are.

The peak price last year was around $1,380 in March. But then you already know I can’t possibly wait that long as I check bullion prices daily.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."