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It takes an income

Remember the year 1966?

For me, what pops immediately to mind is that it was the year I got a paper route.

My independent income expanded my reach. I used it to go all in for numismatics.

No, I did not spend every cent I earned on coins, but I bought more Whitman albums up the denominational scale, and searched more coins obtained by the bag or by the roll from a local bank.

Naturally, when I collected what my customers owed me every Saturday morning, the change I got was eagerly searched. I had a lot of change. Then the newspaper I delivered cost 35 cents a week.

Most customers paid me with coins. They had them. They used them. Sure, some had paper money and asked for change, which I provided. Naturally, the change I gave were the coins I did not need for my collection.

It was not my peak year for circulation finds, but it was the year I began to learn the real ropes of the hobby.

Mercury dimes came my way. A few slick Standing Liberty quarters passed through my hands. I never collected the design because virtually all of them were dateless. Over time I did save the coins with even partial dates on them, but there were not many.

I daydreamed over a few dateless Standing Liberty quarters of the type without the stars under the eagle on the reverse and wondered how I would feel if I ever would receive a 1916 in my weekly collections.

I knew getting the 1966 was improbable. The 52,000 mintage printed in the Red Book and memorized by me told me so, but it was possible.

The range of coins available for Mercury dimes was much wider. I never received a 1916-D, but there were coins from the Teens that were worn pretty slick but still had dates on them. At the other end of the preservation spectrum many of the World War II dates hardly had any wear at all.

The occasional half dollar came my way, as people had not completely given up on the denomination. They were not common. Those I did receive ranged from Walking Liberty halves to Benjamin Franklin halves but most were the then new John F. Kennedy half.

Half dollars for me were more a story for the years 1967 and 1968 than 1966 because I needed to have some accumulated savings to put aside a half a buck at one go.

My income was about $5 each week, so my focus on dimes and quarters made more sense.

I did not forget the Franklin D. Roosevelt dimes nor the Washington quarters.

I was disappointed I could never find any of the three 1955 dime issues. I finally had to buy them from a coin dealer, but that was not something I learned how to do in 1966. It was still in my future.

So the year 1966 was the year of more numismatic doors opening for me and I was moved to walk through them by a sense of wonder.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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