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Errors still spark dreams of riches

The Small Date 1982-D copper cent (above) shows the “2” quite a bit further from the rim than the Large Date version. (For visual comparison to the Large Date, click the link to images of the large and small date below.)

If a local coin show wants to generate huge traffic, all it will have to do is set up a table to evaluate 1982-D small date cents. Are they the rare copper (just one known) or are they the common copper-coated zinc?

Ever since I have been running stories about this rarity, as well as the 1983-D copper cent rarity, I have been receiving emails from readers who send me images of their 1982 and 1983 cents.

This morning I had one where the writer said he had one 1982 and two 1982-D cents. They all weighed 3.11, indicating they are the 95-percent copper composition.

His question stemmed from the fact he could not tell a large date from small. I sent him a link to images of the large and small date. He thanked me in reply. A short while later, another email from him arrived. He said he had found that he had two more cents from that year, one from each mint. The image showed that both were large dates. I told him this.

I expect he is not a regular reader.

Other emails contain questions that have some form of question about not the error in the story that they had just read but something else they have that looked like an error.

Is it rare and valuable? It usually isn’t.

Being editor of Numismatic News has turned into always having to say you’re sorry. At least that is how I have been closing many recent emails. I write, “I’m sorry I don’t have better news.”

While these individuals did not strike it rich today, I hope they keep looking.

When I was a kid, I thought I had a fortune after I read a comic book ad that proclaimed the proprietor bought certain pre-1940 cents for, as I recall, $100.

I looked at all the cents in the house, mine and my parents. I left my brother’s alone because that could have started a fight over what belonged to each of us.

In any case, I had a number of pre-1940 cents which I multiplied by $100 – and boy I thought I was rich.

My parents were skeptical, but my mother took me to the hobby shop to get a Whitman album before my enthusiasm cooled. I quickly learned that the valuable cents had letters, lots of letters, like 1909-S VDB, before they were worth $100.

But I was hooked. I did not become rich on the spot, but instead I was enriched slowly. It was a day-by-day process that turned into a career and has stretched over 54 years.

I have even had inquiries in Spanish, which I assume is due to online translators. I duly answer in Spanish using my rudimentary knowledge combined with a computer translator.

Errors inspire dreams of riches like no other coins do – unless it is fake 1804 dollars. Some writers have dozens.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.


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