Have you ever watched one of television’s many confession shows? Human weakness seems to get very high ratings.
What would the coin collector version of such a show entail? I am sure you can come up with your own most shocking ideas that would garner higher ratings than anything I can come up with.
However, I will throw a suggestion out there anyway.
What might be most startling if we all look in the mirror to confront reality is how few of us actually still collect Lincoln cents.
We are immersed in Lincoln cents, but do we still collect them?
Every few months we engage in another round of the cent abolition debate. It comes to the expected conclusion and then it goes quiet again.
Is that collecting?
We have hobbyists who have decided that the current 2-cent value of 1982 and earlier 95 percent copper cents is a potential profit worth going after. They save all they can find.
I do the same, but I do not look through bank rolls and my day-to-day experience of copper Lincolns is quite limited in number.
Is saving copper cents collecting?
Lincoln cents were once the universal collectible. Everybody put sets together. It was our common bond.
But if I look at my own hobby history, I have not worked to fill a hobby album with Lincoln cents with any kind of energy since 1966.
Sure, I have done things like join former staffers Bob Wilhite and David Kranz to search through a bag of 1995 cents to see if we could find a doubled die. Kranz found one. I did not.
Is that collecting or just a work assignment?
I still look at the dates of the cents in my change. I even pick up the strays off the street. Is that collecting?
I have never purchased the key and semi-key dates that I did not find in circulation. I never have sent one in to a grading service or bought or sold one on eBay.
Is that collecting?
Numismatic News still gets letters from individuals who continue to actively screen large numbers of cents. Some look for the older dates that might still be out there. Others focus on the modern minting varieties and errors.
That is collecting.
But in reality, how many of us are still trying to build a Lincoln cent set either out of change or as the result of a series of careful purchases?
I would venture a guess that in percentage terms, it is no longer a very high number and certainly it would not even be close to the number that collected Lincoln cents 50 years ago.
Our memories are filled by Lincoln cents. Our experiences began with them. We continue to immerse ourselves in some aspect of almost daily, but do we still collect them? For most of us, I think we would confess that we do not, but that is not a bad thing, because we went on to collect something we like better.
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