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'Strike it Rich' Spurs Rare Cent Find

Editor's Note: This article refers to an older version of Strike It Rich With Pocket Change. Links to the book have been updated to feature the current edition.

IOLA, Wis. (June 18, 2012) -- A 1983 copper-alloy cent has been found by a Pennsylvania collector who had purchased a copy of Strike it Rich with Pocket Change that was co-authored by Dr. Brian Allen and Ken Potter.

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It is the second one known to exist. All cents made in 1983 should be of copper-coated zinc. The collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, made her discovery several weeks after acquiring the book.

She reports that she found the copper cent after reading Potter and Allen's account of how Billy Crawford of South Carolina found one by setting all the 1983 cents to the side, while looking for doubled dies and other varieties in circulated rolls, so that he could weigh them all later.

The cents struck from 1963 through about mid 1982 are of a solid brass composition made up of 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. They weigh 3.11 grams. The cents struck from about mid 1982 to date are struck on planchets made up of a solid zinc core (with a trace of copper) that are barrel plated with pure copper and weigh 2.5 grams.

Crawford hoped that his efforts would result in him finding a transitional error of a 1983 cent struck on a planchet left over from the early part of 1982 before the copper plated zinc cents were introduced later in that same year. Eventually he found one and the authors detailed his story on the find on Page 64 of the second edition and on Page 75 in the third edition of the book.

In Strike it Rich, the authors placed a possible value of $15,000 on an AU/Unc. example but it was just a guess. The owner now has this coin slated for sale in an upcoming Heritage auction.

This story has been unfolding for a while. The finder of this second example first contacted Potter Aug. 6, 2010.

He took it with him to the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money last summer in Chicago where noted error coin expert and dealer Fred Weinberg of Encino, Calif., inspected it and stated it weighed within tolerance of a solid copper alloy cent and bore the correct surface characteristics.

Weinberg suggested it be sent in to the Professional Coin Grading Service for authentication and encapsulation. PCGS attributed it as genuine – not gradable and mentioned on the holder that it was a "Transitional Error." The coin had a dark area on the lower reverse.

Nonetheless, it is only one of two examples of this error that Potter knows of for sure and a fantastic find no matter what the grade.

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