My mail lately has included a lot of letters that begin with, “I don’t have a computer ...”
They then end with, can you help me?
More and more, I cannot.
We are no longer equipped to deal with mail.
Everything nowadays boils down to emails and photographs sent to me by email.
That is both a shame and a sign of progress.
It is faster. No question.
For the most part, answers can be given without real coins actually passing through my hands.
As I said, it is a shame, too.
It is contact with coins that all collectors desire.
The fewer coins I see, the less readily available is my ability to work with them.
Skills, as well as eyesight, deteriorate.
But fortunately for me, the latest wave of snail mail has had to do with regular and error Lincoln cents.
What current coin collector doesn’t have tons of experience with them?
Fewer than you think.
Writers claim to be longtime readers or just long-term collectors.
But then they ask me a question like what is the value of their 1990 cent without a mintmark.
They do not ask me what their proof 1990 cent without a mintmark is worth.
That is a critical distinction.
Philadelphia cents have no mintmark on them.
In 1990, the Mother Mint turned out almost 6.9 billion cents without a mintmark on them.
It’s what was intended.
These coins are numerous and have no value beyond face value.
Yet it is dreams of making $10,000 that seem to make longtime collectors forget all about the fact that Philadelphia does not put mintmarks on its cents.
There is, of course, one exception.
The 2017-P mintmarked cent celebrates the Mint’s 225th anniversary.
In 2018, it will be back to no mintmark.
Perhaps by then the present wave of mailed inquiries will have subsided.
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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