The Holy Grail of Lincoln cent collectors was to find a 1909-S VDB in change.
The circulation finds generation had the 484,000 mintage memorized.
But what if the 484,000 1909-S VDB coins did not have the “S” mintmark on them?
What if the only way to know that a cent was produced in San Francisco and not in Philadelphia was to buy it in a plastic slab that gave you the mint information?
How would collectors have reacted?
We might find out.
The Professional Coin Grading Service is now able to identify where silver American Eagle bullion coins that are struck without mintmarks originated.
To do that, the coins must still be in the Mint-sealed boxes they came in in 2014-2017.
PCGS says the box number, which is written in black marker, can be used to determine the mint.
These coins can be submitted for slabbing.
Some of these coins are quite scarce.
While San Francisco struck 7,025,000 in 2014, 4,650,000 in 2016 and 3 million so far in 2017, Philadelphia struck 79,640 in 2015, 1,151,500 in 2016 and 1 million so far in 2017.
West Point figures are 23,450,000 in 2014, 46,920,500 in 2015, 31,900,000 in 2016 and 5,425,000 so far in 2017.
Will the 2015 Philadelphia coin now take on the prestige and price of a key date in the series?
We will soon find out.
It is in the interest of a grading company to create another revenue stream.
Whether this pans out, depends on the level of collector interest.
Marketers can proclaim that the only way to get complete sets of silver Eagles will be to get all 10 pieces struck 2014-2017 in slabs.
Most will be forever common, as you can see by the mintages.
But the 2015 Philadelphia at 79,640 might shine.
The 1,151,500 2016 might make the cut.
However, in this day and age 1 million of anything doesn’t seem to be particularly scarce anymore.
If every a million coins can be made significant, it will happen in the silver Eagle set.
Let’s see what marketing will do for this newly discovered service.
Grading services once again prove they are on the cutting edge of numismatics.
(Editor's Note: Since this was posted PCGS has said it is seeking from the U.S. Mint clarification of the 2015 Philadelphia issue)
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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