Publish date:

Unusual way to ask question

Some days I get the strangest questions in my email.

This morning one called the “1976-D off-metal cent” was sitting in my inbox.

The sender wrote this:

“I recently got this coin from a non-collector at an antique market. It was in a bag with a question mark on it. I didn’t ask where they got it. A magnet didn’t stick. I posted a few pics for you to see. To the left there is a replated steel cent of 1943 in two pics. In another, there’s a mint state 1943 cent to the left for comparison as well. Is it worth grading? What should i do? I plan on taking it to a few dealers eventually. The pics don’t really exhibit it’s silver color, but in person it indeed is the color of a dime or something silver. It doesn’t give me the impression like replated 1943 cents do, but maybe i haven’t seen enough or don’t know what to look for. I don’t have a scale either. What are your impressions? Thanks for your time, hope to hear back from experts.”

It was signed “Joe – Tustin, Calif."

To me the coin looked like someone had scrubbed it with something a little bit softer than a Brillo pad. The lighter color is probably the result of whatever cleaner was used on it.

But what was more interesting was his setting the coin next to a copper-colored 1943-S cent in his photograph.

Am I supposed to infer from what he wrote that he used the magnet on both and jump to the conclusion that he had somehow found a copper 1943-S cent? That he somehow doesn't know he might have a valuable rarity?

Why would you use a magnet on a 1976-D cent? Why would you photograph these two coins together?

I will respond, but I will direct my comments solely to the 1976-D cent. After all, "copper" 1943-S cents are a dime a dozen.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."