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French speakers have found me

 Small Date 1982-D copper cent

Small Date 1982-D copper cent

What’s the French word for counterfeit? I didn’t know, either, until I looked it up on

Why did I care? For some reason this week, French speakers have discovered my email address as it relates to the unique 1982-D small date copper cent.

The story of the find of this rarity is an amazing one. Almost two years after it was posted, it continues to draw more readers than anything new that we have posted since. How’s that for staying power?

The downside is inquiries come to me from around the world. But up until now, I have not been contacted about the coin in French.

But that’s not all. As long as they are contacting me, they just have to send me images of other coins in their possession. Chinese counterfeits are a problem elsewhere as well. Hence my need to figure out what counterfeit is in French.

Foreign readers also have trouble distinguishing the difference between a large date and a small date. Many emails are sent by people who simply include images without even asking a question. But the “Bonjour” indicates the language.

I don’t know when it became standard behavior to ask a question without even bothering to write it out, so I respond with “Large date, sorry. Good luck with your hunting.” I also send the link to the photos in the story just in case they are the last people on the planet to not have seen it.

My grandmother tried to make me more observant when I was a child. She would array objects on her kitchen table. I was asked to look at them and then step out of the room for a moment. When I was called back in, I was asked which object was taken away.

I never did very well at that game, but I knew it was always followed by ginger snap cookies (sometimes sugar cookies) and milk, so I was always happy to play.

For many people, dates on a coin are like my grandmother’s kitchen table. No matter what’s there, it all looks the same. The differences just are not perceived when they look at them. Unfortunately, I have no cookies to offer the unsuccessful.

What I can say about this experience is there seems to be a definite uptick in the number of people looking at their cents.

That is a healthy development for the hobby. The impulse to find a rare coin in circulation is one that most collectors have experienced. It is a part of our hobby DNA.

Knowing that there are others who are starting down this circulation finds road is gratifying. But this particular influx is developing among adults rather than kids. Could it be that we as organized numismatics have got our outreach priorities exactly backwards all these years?

Adults have already learned the value of a dollar – and a rare cent, too. That might be the essential element in the next crop of budding collectors.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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