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Heads or tails, we win

I started this week on the topic of the cent and I see no reason not to continue it today from another angle.

A question is frequently asked in collector circles whether hobbyists can support abolishing a coin denomination.

After all, that would take away a collectible coin. Surely that is not something a collector would advocate, would he?

There is certainly wide support among collectors for retaining the cent, but there is a growing minority position to get rid of the cent.

Which course of action would be most beneficial to the hobby?

To answer that question, I would like to look at collector patterns in history.

The two actions that are most likely to gain public attention and thereby increase public participation in coin matters is to either introduce a new coin like the Presidential dollar, state quarters and like, or to take an old one away.

It is well known in hobby circles that coins from the first year of issue are often saved in large numbers and they come down to us as more common dates. That is not always true, but it certainly was true in spades for the Presidential dollars, state quarters and Sacagawea dollars.

All of the interest generated by the introduction of these coins was a help to the hobby.

As examples of taking something away, I can cite the elimination of the half cent in 1857, or a change in design like the change from the wheat cent to the Memorial, or the removal of silver from coins in 1965.

When something is eliminated, there is an influx of public attention as people want to acquire examples of what is passing into history.

This month’s Twinkie rush is another example of this.

So, whether you are for saving the cent with a new alloy or getting rid of it, either outcome will likely benefit the hobby.

That’s what I call a great situation.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."