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Plan for 125 years of Lincoln cent?

There’s life in the old Lincoln cent yet.


Our front page story this weeks shows that collectors are hot on the trail of the Small-Date 1982-D copper cent.

Only one is presently known and that was just reported in the Jan. 3, 2017, issue, 35 years after it was produced.

It is still amazing to me in the modern numismatic age that something can elude us for so long.

But where there is one, the hope is there are more. That is why we report on the possibility of a second 1982-D Small Date on the cover.

It could very well be a sloppy fake. But if nobody cared about cents at all, there would be no attempts to come up with such deceptions.

So hobby life goes on with the cent continuing to play an important part.

Another demonstration of this is the poll question this week asking whether cents and nickels should be abolished. As you can see by the two pages of comments, collectors have strong feelings pro and con.

This would not happen if the coin has reached its “sell by” date.

What is gratifying to me is this feeds my sense of nostalgia. I began with cents more than a half century ago. I know this is true for many readers as well.

However, collectors who are either younger and/or more intrepid than I am continue to look for rarities in the circulating cent supply. I wish I could do that.

My last serious attempt to check circulating cents for something significant occurred in 1995 when I was looking for the doubled-die that excited collectors that year.

I did not find one, but I looked. That is the job of every collector. Sometimes there is no reward. But the search itself is rewarding in its own right. I expect most collectors wouldn’t be collectors if they didn’t enjoy that kind of chase.

As my eyes age, I am less and less enthused about checking any cents beyond those that come directly into my hands as change.

The fact that I am willing to leave the task to younger collectors might be because I have no choice. However, it is gratifying that there is a new generation taking up the challenge.

How long the Lincoln cent will continue to be struck is anybody’s guess. I thought its days were numbered back in 2006 when its cost began to exceed its face value. That’s what killed off the half cent in 1857. It is why the small cent replaced the large cent and why cents are now made of copper-plated zinc.

But economics alone do not have the final say.

So the Lincoln cent is now 108 years old. That is phenomenal. A 108-year run from the founding of the Mint in 1792 would take us to 1900, which seems almost like yesterday.

Even though the cost of the cent remains above face value (1.5 cents each) we collectors can probably confidently begin planning for the 125th anniversary in 2034. Keep searching through those cents. Good luck to one and all.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2018 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.