I received a letter yesterday from a reader who wrote to tell me that he had found more than 130 of the 2009 Lincoln cents marking the 200th anniversary of the 16th President’s birth.
What makes the letter remarkable is that this is the first proof I have had that somewhere in the country (New York State) the 2009 cents are actually circulating.
Usually I get letters asking where the coins are and when will they circulate. Or, I get letters where the writer found a bank that had rolls and then bought some.
Actually finding the cents and collecting them one at a time, which in ordinary times many collectors would willingly do, is as rare as a hen’s tooth.
With the financial incentive to grab uncirculated rolls when they are found and then sell them on eBay, even collectors who might help spread them around find themselves contributing to the sense many people have that they are scarce.
Collectors can do this because the face value of every single example made totals just $23.54 million.
With the incentive to hoard and to trade being what it is, hobbyists have had no problem keeping many of the coins out of circulation.
When you look at the number another way to say that in 2009 2.354 billion cents were struck, you wonder how long collectors will feel that they need more than the eight coins necessary to have a full set.
That day will eventually come. The question is when. Now I routinely find Delaware quarters in change. In the months after the release of the first state quarter in 1999, there was a sense of scarcity. It has taken 11 years to dispel it.
So I guess in 2020 we can look forward to getting the 2009 cents in change.