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Reader finds show way to future

There is nothing like circulation finds to get a collector’s blood pumping. This week, the Viewpoint and a couple of letters offer results of coin searches.

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I couldn’t be happier about it. Finds from circulation have provided a basis for coin collecting throughout my life.

Quite frankly, I am surprised by what readers are still finding in change. One thoughtful reader provided excellent photographs of his recent good fortune. I could not ask for better. – well, yes I can. I can hope that other readers searching change will come up with some interesting pieces, photograph them and send them to me also.

Most coin collectors have a penchant for statistics, and a letter on Page 8 offers a statistical incidence rate for finding silver dimes. I had no idea there is still so much silver in change. I guess that is what happens when non-collectors no longer have an idea what a silver coin looks like, so no mental alarm goes off when one passes through their hands.

As other readers have pointed out from time to time, coin counting machines nowadays tend to reject silver. That leads to good fortune for those who check rejection chutes.

But I must say I am also surprised by non-collector reactions to reports of finds of rare cent errors in change. It has been a year and a half since a 1982-D small date cent made of copper has been reported in Numismatic News. The online story still attracts more readers each week than almost any other. Often, it leads. Go figure.

Anyone who thinks the next generation has no interest in coins should read my emails – or perhaps look at the pictures. I am amazed by the number of people who send just a photo without writing a word. I guess I am just supposed to write back that they have won the lottery. Ding, ding, ding.

So the question for all of us collectors is how do we convert this obvious interest in making a fortune with rare coin finds into new lifelong collectors?

I know it is not easy. I know many want to give up and simply walk away, but we all need to remember that until the great merchandisers built this hobby into what it is today, people with interest in coins 80 or 90 years ago were just as unfocused as the present-day public.

Thank you, B. Max Mehl, Whitman Publishing, Maynard Sundman, Chet Krause, Clifford Mishler, Q. David Bowers and many other hobbyists and companies for promoting numismatics steadily over many years. Their systematic approaches and unfailing optimism were rewarded. We are all the current beneficiaries. Readers who report their circulation finds show the same unfailing optimism as the hobby greats.

If another copper small-date 1982-D cent is found, I will bet it will be discovered by a Numismatic News reader.

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

More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.

• Error coins can bring big money. Learn to detect them and how to cash in on them with Strike It Rich With Pocket Change.