In tough economic times, it’s hard to give away $10,000 – in cents.
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth in 1809 and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent first issued in 1909, rare coin dealer Paul Hollis of Mandeville, La., will give away a million Lincoln cents in public places throughout Louisiana between Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, and Feb. 24 at the Argus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.
But it’s been harder than anticipated, and not just because the million one-cent denomination coins weigh about 5,500 pounds.
“I’ve been trying for weeks to arrange for delivery of a million of the new, 2009-dated Lincoln cents that are scheduled to be released on Feb. 12,” said Hollis.
“Local bankers and the Federal Reserve Bank told me they don’t expect delivery of the new pennies for weeks or even months later until the current inventory of earlier-dated one-cent coins is reduced in Southern states,” he said. “So, I’ve made arrangements to get at least some bags of the new coins from banks in another part of the country, and ship them by armored car to the New Orleans area.”
The four new reverse designs are the first major change in the cent since the Lincoln Memorial design was introduced in 1959.
In addition to those with new designs, some of the million cents will be 50- to 90-year-old collectors’ coins with the original wheat stalks design on the reverse.
Hollis will give away the approximately 2.7 tons of coins a handful at a time with specially-made cloth coin purses that will be accompanied by an illustrated, educational brochure he produced that explains the history of the Lincoln cent.
“Abraham Lincoln has always been one of my favorite Presidents and this is my small way of remembering his extraordinary legacy,” he explained.
Hollis, 36, became a collector when he was 6 years old after receiving an old coin from his grandmother.
“How many people can say they gave away ‘tons of money’ and really mean it? I think this is great.”
For more information or to receive a complimentary brochure, visit Paul Hollis Rare Coins online at www.PaulHollis.com or call (800) 994-0689.