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This week’s letters (04/09/13)

In my penny search I have recently found two pennies. One is a 1943 copper-coated steel cent. At first sight I thought I had hit the jackpot. Then I put the magnet test to it, and bingo, it snapped off my counter. What a letdown.
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Did Mint make copper plated steel cents?
In my penny search I have recently found two pennies. One is a 1943 copper-coated steel cent. At first sight I thought I had hit the jackpot. Then I put the magnet test to it, and bingo, it snapped off my counter. What a letdown.
Did the U.S. Mint ever make steelies clad in copper or did someone have it electroplated. If so, why in the world would it have been in circulation?
My second coin is a 1996-D penny plain zinc with no clad, apparently an error. Is it worth any more than 1 cent?
Dave Olsen
Iola, Wis

Editor’s note: The Mint never issued copper-plated steel cents. Plating steel cents with copper could have been done as a science experiment or by someone for kicks. We will never know.
Cents struck on unplated zinc planchets trade online for the price of a dinner. The risk is that someone used chemicals to strip the copper coating from the coin, in which case it would not be bright and shiny. In any case, it should be examined by a third-party grading service for authentication.

Key indicators trigger counterfeit concerns
The purpose of this letter is to do a bit of damage control concerning the letter sent to you “Get more opinions before saying coin is fake” by Mike Pegahi. My response to his letter is this.
It is a well know fact that the 1909-S Lincoln cent has nine different “S” mintmark positions. If the coin in question has a mintmark that falls outside these positions, it is to be considered a probable counterfeit.
Yes, there are other indicators that can collaborate the authenticity of this certain coin, but in this case, the mintmark position is paramount indicator of authenticity. This also holds true for the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent which has four different “S” mintmark positions. Once again, if the mintmark falls out of position on this key date, it should be considered a counterfeit coin. This also holds true for many key and semi-key coins in other denominations with mintmarks in different positions. The position of the mintmark is a very valid key for authenticity.
I do know Mr. Fazzari and I do value his opinion on counterfeit detection. Letters that question his ability in detecting counterfeits only tend to muddy the waters in this extremely valued service. So, before refuting a certain finding, make sure that you have all the facts straight.
B.J. Neff
Address withheld

Not enough lower priced coins for sale
I am interested in grabbing the attention of new collectors, but the problem is that many online coin sites have a very limited selection of lower priced coins. Dealers want the hobby to continue and grow, but shove away a huge field of potential new customers who are not capable of buying high dollar coins.
I mean let’s face it, even $20 to some folks is a substantial amount of money week after week. But by offering much lower priced coins and grabbing these lower income people will obviously generate a future profit for all area’s of the hobby.
I realize most coin dealers are in the business end of the market and not the collector/hobby end, but if some dealers are willing to offer a broader array of lower priced coins to the Average Joe, in a relatively short time period I am positive that the coin market would benefit across the board.
There are lots of collectors out there that are tight with their cash and without knowledge of the pluses that the hobby has to offer are not going to take the plunge to buy an expensive coin. Most coin sites are going to scare a potential collector with deep pockets away with only high dollar coins in front of him.
Buy a nice looking affordable coin. That is probably the best hook to grab his interest for future business. Then maybe he would like to share his interest with some close friends. The same goes for getting children into the hobby.
Ryan Caudill
Address withheld

Photo of Obama needs to be updated
On the front page of the March 12 issue, you run a picture of the President that is years old. He looks young and benign, and he is neither.
Has Numismatic News joined the rest of the media in the unending scam to make this man appear to be something he isn’t? I am hoping at least one publication is still free of Washington’s tentacles.
Peter Keefe
Ashburn, Va.

Eliminating cent won’t usher in fiat money
I received my latest copy of Numismatic News (March 12) and would like to make a couple quick words about the “Letters” writer Jeffry Byer and what I received in change March 5.
First, Mr. Byer, the U.S. government and, perhaps all the world governments, have been producing fiat money, both in coin and paper or polymer, since silver and gold have been taken out circulating coins.
The removal of the lowest denomination coin does not mean fiat money is next to come, because it’s already here. The elimination of the cent (in the U.S. not quite yet, or Canada) just means that the denomination has no buying power and is basically a nuisance in the “real” world.
Like seeing the first snowflake to fall signals Winter is coming, getting the first coin of the year, signals in the new year. On March 5 I received a 2013 Shield cent in change at my local grocery store on the east side of Cleveland. Now, I can celebrate the year of 2013 and continue to look for nickels, dimes and quarters for 2013. Well, maybe nickels and dimes; I still have yet to get an America the Beautiful quarter in change. (Like the Indians and the Browns, maybe THIS year!)
Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Some more information on OPA tokens
This is in response to the letter in the Feb. 19 issue of Numismatic News from James Henson on Office of Price Administration (OPA) tokens.
The OPA first issued ration stamps in 1942 and continued until 1945.
The ration stamps were issued for use to purchase rationed goods in the quantities and at the times designated by OPA. They came in red, blue, green, black and brown.
The red and blue were for food. Red was for meats and blue for processed food. The stamps had a value of 10 points and the tokens were 1 point and given in change. I don’t think the other colors of stamps had tokens for change.
There were 30 red tokens with two letters on each token and the red is more common than the blue. The value of most of the red is 40 cents except XC and YC are $2 and MM is $5.
The blue has 24 different with two letters on each. The value of most blue tokens are 80 cents except CT, CV, HX and WU at $2 each and CX and WW @ $4 and WH at $8.
There is on rare red token with the letters MV that is valued at $225.
I don’t know the reason for the letter on the tokens, but I hope this information will help some.
David Bauers
Fremont, Neb.

Roll searchers enjoy their hobby
I’m writing in reference to the guy from Illinois who wrote the wonderful rebuttal to my 2012 cent total. I am so pleased to know that he can read and has the ability to be able to put together such a wonderful letter on roll searching.
He should keep eyes open and ready to comment on all the other roll searchers throughout this land with his lovely opinion about their finds. He said that he used to work for a bank, and I repeat, he used to work for a bank.
I believe that this guy is jealous because he thinks we should read a book, do puzzles or play Solitaire like him.
In this day and time, we who search rolls have the right to keep what we want to when we want to. It’s our money.
Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.

Copper cents harder to find in circulation
I searched my first $500 bank box of half dollars. Not one coin was older than 1971. But I was at the bank at the right time and purchased $170 in halves that someone turned in aftering receving them from their grandfather who had passed.
I found 30 40 percent halves and two 90 percent (1952 and 1964).
Then I went through a box of cents and found 333 coppers dated 1959-1981. Thirty out of 50 1982 cents were copper, 22 wheats with 17 from the 1940s and five from the 1950s and four Canadian cents.
As I have been reading, the copper cents are slowly going away.
J.D. Higginbotham
Phoenix, Ariz.

He’ll make elongated cents as long as he can
It has come up on the elongated coin group that Disney is considering going to tokens to be smashed instead of cents, pretty much if they are just blanks. Many are against it and say they might as well just have them for sale already rolled since they could not actually roll their own coins.
While I can see dimes as being an acceptable substitute if we have no cents to smash, nickels are harder to roll than quarters, dimes or cents, unless they should change the composition of the nickel to something softer and not steel.
Before there was this great influx of penny elongating machines they were few and far between to find a self-serve one. I remember in a penny arcade probably early 1960s seeing an electric machine that would roll the Lord’s Prayer on a cent. There was a sign taped on the machine not to use steel cents, so I started collecting elongated coins around 1961 or 1962, when I was 9 or 10 years old and knew what steel cents were. That is why I noticed the machine, but I don’t remember rolling from it.
Later, when I found out about coin shows, I saw some elongated coins but did not actively collect them. I got interested in them after Frank Brazzell bought an elongated penny machine when I was in seventhth or eighth grade. I graduated in 1970.
I bought a lot of older French coins from Carol Plante in Canada and thought these really worth my money and became hooked on French coins, I still collected others, but concentrated on the French ones, mostly after the French Revolution. I was trying to put together a type set.
If you did not count the coins of Napoleon I, I had all except three types at that time. Napoleon had issued many coin types and some were more expensive than I could afford.
I then started on older French, mainly back to Louis XIII and have a haphazard set of different types from that period. This is where I was when Frank got me hooked on elongateds.
I never sold any of my French coin collection. If I moved to a different time period I kept what I had and would occasionally add to it.
So at the same time I was in the middle of this I got interested in elongated coins. I have very few early ones, but many by engraver or person issuing them.
I bought my first penny machine, one Frank had obtained when purchasing dies and machines from the House of Elongateds. I still have it and have now purchased others along the way. I even have the first machine Frank bought now along with both newer and older ones.
Along the way I learned to engrave dies and Frank got me started but I have added to that through the years. I make more dies than I roll out.
Collectors do like it when I bring elongateds to a meeting to give away. I started a few years back making an elongated for the CICF because I liked to so much. Sometimes they put it in Numismatic News and I would get a few dollars to put toward expenses.
This started out to be just about the possibility of doing away with cents and what would happen to all to elongated machines out there.
For many years most elongateds were either issued for special events or privately issued. Maybe it will go back to that. I know if they start taking our cents away I will be hoarding them in hopes to make elongated cents as long as I can.
As Frank said, it is as close as he could get to making his own money. I may not be able in the future to roll quantities so cheaply, but I will make them as long as I can.
Brad Ream
VP of the Elongated Collectors
Rockville, Ind.

Any value to cent with fuzzy ‘L’ in Liberty?
A 2013-D penny was in my change for a recent purchase. The letter “L” in “Liberty” is not clear and is too close to the edge of the coin. Is this a defect or it it OK. Is it worth more than 1 cent?
Ron Adams
Parker, Colo.

Editor’s note: From the black and white photocopy image that you sent, it would appear the cent has a minor defect and it would not be worth more than face value.

Collector has fun with ugly Buffalo nickels
I am writing this letter in rsponse to Bob Hays of Phoenix, Ariz., in the Feb. 19 issue in respect to Nic-A-Date Buffalo nickels. Nic-A-Date is a way of re-establishing an unknown on a very collectible coins. The collector’s objective is to accumulate rare and difficult items, in this case coins, and make it an enjoyable hobby.
I for one do not have a great deal of money, but enjoy the challenge in accumulating that hard-to-find item. I have begun a collection of Buffalo nickels and call it my ugly Indian/Buffalo collection.
I am attempting to accumulate the most ugly Buffalo coin of each and every date for as little as possible in respect to cost. This is very intersting and enjoyable addition to an expert serious collector.
One can find the average to above average Buffalo nickel that is needed to complete a collction, but in many instances can’t afford to purchase it. The challenge in the ugly nickel collection is to accumulate the hard-to-find items at the least expensive cost possible.
So far, I have many dates of ugly nickels. As a child I went through paper route change and collected as many coins as possible. Due to the change in economics it is not as enjoyable to collect modern coins like years past. Therefore, my ugly Buffalo collection is shock and awe.
When I visit the local coin dealer and inquire about the ugliest Buffalo nickel he or she may have, many have looked at me like I am out of my mind.
Danny Biddle
Wolf Lake, Ind.

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