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Coin collectors gather 'secret' financial information

While Wall Street tries to figure out why the stock market tumbled from January records, coin collectors might be sitting on the answer.

We are not superior economic experts, but we do monitor something that might prove to be useful.

Collectors note when 2018-dated coins reach circulation.

Going by my email and mail, the new coins are very late this year.

That usually means the economy is not working well.

First, let’s congratulate two readers who tied for finding the first 2018 coins in their change. Their reports came to me yesterday.

As you might expect, these finds are of the one-cent denomination.

The email is from L. Smith, Perrysburg, Ohio.

It reads: “On February 6th I made a purchase at an Aldi’s store and asked for a bank-wrapped roll of cents, which I do often and they have been 2017-P mints. I didn’t open them until today and discovered they are 2018-D mints. I was just wondering if I’m the first one to report this find?"

Arriving at the same time was a handwritten note from Jeffrey Rose of Adrian, Mich.

It reads, “On 6 February I purchased my monthly box of $25 of pennies from one of my local banks.

“I found two 2018-D pennies in the rolls and there are plenty of the Wheaties still in the rolls. The oldest I’ve gotten was a 1924.”

I am grateful to both collectors.

A tie in reporting is unusual.

I do not recall the last time such a thing happened. Maybe it never did in my 40 years here.

Normally new coins spread out across America as banks absorb them for use in commerce.

Major cities on the Atlantic seaboard are often the first locations where new cents are spotted.

Not this year.

Perhaps East Coast collectors are asleep this year as an alternative explanation. I don’t believe this.

Did everyone decide to go cashless in January?

I don’t believe this either.

In January, the Mint struck 476.4 million cents in Denver and 528.4 million in Philadelphia.

So we are back to the economy perhaps not being as strong as we think it is. That would make the stock market weakness logical.

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."

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