Generational shifts are awkward things.
Common knowledge to one set of people ceases to become common knowledge.
One topic area I am noticing this shift in more and more regards the addition of the Philadelphia “P” mintmark to American coins.
Disregarding war nickels that we don’t see in change anymore, the “P” arrived in 1979 on the Susan B. Anthony dollar.
It was put on every other denomination in 1980 except the cent.
The Philadelphia cent stayed without a mintmark until this year when the “P” appears even there.
Use of the “P” on the cent this year is to indicate the celebration of the 225th anniversary of the founding of the United States Mint in 1792.
Using it is a good idea.
It is supposed to disappear come 2018.
It might be better to leave it on all Philadelphia cents going forward.
This would be easier to explain.
I received an inquiry in my morning email.
“I have one dime 1975 no s proof. All photos from one maneta.”
The name in the email sounds Russian.
I assume maneta means coin.
Moneda is coin in Spanish.
What was sent was a number of photographs of what looks to me to be a very ordinary Philadelphia dime of 1975 without a mintmark above the date.
It is not a proof, though it looks like someone tried to shine it up.
But of course the whole question hinges on the lack of the mintmark.
I do not expect someone from Russia to know American numismatic history of the last 40 years.
I tried to explain it briefly in my reply.
But more and more Americans are getting in on this act too.
Whenever the topic of an error coin without a mintmark comes up, I get emails from people asking about their coins.
Invariably, they are all Philadelphia products from before the 1979-1980 changeover.
In the case of the cent, any Philadelphia product from before 2017 will do.
It is a shame to have to disappoint people who jump to the conclusion that any coin without a mintmark is somehow valuable.
What is very peculiar is the number of emails I get from people who do not even ask a question.
Images are sent to me with a basic message of “I have this.” Nothing else.
Then I have to guess what the question might be.
Sometimes I can figure it out.
But there are times I have no idea.
I had a conversation with Tom Michael, a colleague in the Standard Catalog department.
He also has noticed an uptick in emails to him that do not get to the point of asking a question.
But with the changing generations, I am going to get more and more emails about coins without a mintmark.
With the addition of the “P” mintmark to the 2017 cent I sure hope we do not encounter an error coin this year where a cent turns up without a mintmark.
Or maybe I do.
It would certainly bring huge attention to coin collecting.
That would be a good thing.
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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