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Copper dominates cent change

Nothing gets response from readers like typographical errors. The latest head slapper for me in the office was a statement in Numismatic News that 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the Lincoln cent, instead of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. It is the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent.

Fortunately, such a significant year as 2009 will give me many more opportunities to point out the double Lincoln anniversary and to do it correctly.

It will also give collectors a chance to scrutinize their change.

In my Saturday errands I collected change in several stopping-off points. When I got home and emptied my pockets, I checked the coins. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the larger denominations, except perhaps for how rapidly the Alaskan quarter has reached circulation in this area.

The interesting aspect was the cents. I had nine of them. Four were years after 1982 and were made of copper-plated zinc. Five were the pre-1982 95 percent copper alloy.

While it is not unknown for me to get a copper cent in change, the proportion is not usually so high. Perhaps a business got a roll from a bank full of older cents and I just happened to be in the check-out line when it was being used.

The current combination of recession and the sharply falling price of copper might result in even more of the older cents reaching circulation. People are digging deeper to keep paying their bills and a 95 percent copper cent has a metallic value now of little more than face value, removing any possible incentive to keep it.

Check your cents and see what you come up with.