Some 3,000 to 4,000 people made their way to the Lincoln Amphitheatre in Lincoln City, Ind., yesterday for the ceremony officially introducing the second 2009 Lincoln cent design.
They mostly ignored the actual ceremony. My contact, Don Mark, a hobbyist from Johnston, Iowa, who drove over with Mark Olson estimated the capacity of the theatre at 1,500 and of that only about 10 percent was used.
He said that people going to the ceremony would lose their place in line to get the rolls of the new coins for face value.
So Mint Director Ed Moy and other dignitaries basically talked to an empty house.
The six-roll per person restriction was in effect all day, unlike the event at Kentucky in February when at the end remaining boxes of the cents were available to anyone who wanted them.
However, participants could go through the line more than once – and they did.
Don and his fellow collector went through the line three times, each gaining 18 rolls for their effort.
The first time, he said, it took 30-45 minutes to get to the head of the line to get coins, but he pointed out that he arrived on site at 8 a.m. for a 10 a.m. ceremony and coins weren’t distributed until after the ceremony’s conclusion.
For the second time, Don said the line was 1,500-2,000 people long and it took an hour and a half to reach the coin distribution point.
The third time, he estimated, the time required was almost as long, at one and a quarter to perhaps one and a half hours.
Don said he witnessed the wheeling out of the last five boxes of cents from the Brink's truck, so he said all the available supply was distributed.
Don also said he talked to someone who had been at the Feb. 12 Kentucky ceremony and was told that the crowd in Indiana was about four times the size of the Kentucky crowd.
An interesting tidbit was that leaflets were distributed telling people that it was illegal to buy and sell in the park.
If everybody rushed home to offer the coins on eBay, the odds are that the wider distribution will help hold prices below those that prevailed for the first design.
However, if the bulk of the people were there solely to acquire coins for their collections, that would be another matter. The greater publicity might also help push prices higher as individuals who missed the first issue try to catch up with the second.