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Lincolns charge ahead

Collectors should be grateful that the new Lincoln cent is so hard to get. Sure it might be frustrating not to have something virtually instantaneously, or having to pay far more than face value to be the first one on the block to own one, but numismatics cannot buy this kind of interest-raising phenomenon.

Nothing seems to make people want something more than to be told that they cannot have it.

Response to the Numismatic News poll question this week has been quite high. We asked rather ambiguously whether respondents would buy rolls of the new coins.

Some interpreted the question as a willingness to buy directly from the Mint, which since last week has been offering two-roll sets for $8.95 plus shipping.

Some interpreted the question as a willingness to buy from their favorite coin dealer.

Some interpreted it as a willingness to bid for the rolls on eBay.

Others that it meant buying rolls from their local banks.

The high level of response and the varieties of responses simply proves an old hobby truism that Lincoln cents are the most widely collected coins. Morgan dollars might give them a run for the money, but everyone who is fond of Lincolns is now having his turn in the limelight. This is good for the hobby. It generates enthusiasm and attracts newcomers. All of this is healthy.

Perhaps as a benefit, perhaps as an accident, the number of women who have been responding with e-mailed messages to me has been far higher than for any poll question in my memory.

Fluke? Perhaps. But anybody who wants to see more women in the hobby cannot help but be gratified. The American Numismatic Association board of governors was asked at the Portland, Ore., convention this past weekend how the hobby can attract more women.

Perhaps it is simply a matter of offering a topic that is of interest to them. Lincolns might be it and that makes them typical collectors.

In the meantime, the banking system seems to be functioning somewhat in that I am getting more reports of the new cents found in change in California, Colorado, Virginia and Ohio. Perhaps those collectors waiting to buy the rolls from their banks at face value will turn out to be the smart ones.