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Viewpoint: Yesterday’s silver is today’s copper


By John Daino
I enjoyed reading the letter from Tom Magielnicki in the Jan. 8 issue. He had told us about his finds while pulling out copper cents over the past seven years. I have also been searching and saving copper cents.

Here is my theory. I am 48 years old and was born in 1964. Since 1964 was the last year of the circulating 90 percent silver coins, I feel like I missed out. I’ve heard of all the great stories of collectors finding silver coins from circulation in the late 1960s. Unfortunately, I was 3 years old at this time and unable to do so.

I kind of feel that yesterday’s silver is today’s copper. I have collected U.S. coins all of my life and have enjoyed this hobby thoroughly. But, the last year has surprised me with some really neat and rewarding finds along the way.

In the past years I have put away about $700 in copper cents. I usually do this a few times a week, mostly at the end of the day while watching TV or a movie. Sometimes more often, and sometimes less often. I do this only in my spare time. It hasn’t taken over my life.

How to detect errors, what to look for and how to cash in on them!

How to detect errors, what to look for and how to cash in on them!

About 25 to 30 percent of the coins I searched are copper. Here are some of my finds over the past year: $16 in wheat cents 1940-1958, 200 pre-1940 wheat cents including one 1909 and two 1909 VDB, lots of copper Canadian cents, lots of miscellaneous foreign coins, three Indian cents (1904, 1905 and 1906) and two error cents with rim clips. There were also many minor errors, RPMs, filled dies and doubled dies. One rainy day I will go through them.

My best finds to date are two 1995 doubled die cents and a 1945-P error wheat cent that is a flipover double struck in collar. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realized what I found. It’s a pretty interesting coin. You can see some of the detail from the first strike on both sides, including wheat ears on the obverse.

I feel this is a great time to search through cent rolls. I believe due to the economy people are emptying out those piggy banks, coin jars and loose coins that were saved for a rainy day. I believe the rainy day is here. Why else would I find Indian cents in rolls? I currently look for 1983 copper, 1943 copper, 1972 doubled dies and 1922 plain cents. Who knows, maybe I will find a 1955 doubled die or a 1959 wheat cent! Time will tell.

Here is how I do it. I use two different bank accounts. A larger national bank to get most of my cents and another bank that has a machine in each branch to deposit my loose coins at no charge. I only roll the copper cents that I’m saving. This helps out a lot. Whenever I pass a branch of either bank, I stop in and get a box of cents.

While searching for copper cents, I also pull out the 1982 and 1983 cents. I have a small scale and I weigh them. I save the 1982 copper and return the zinc cents. I also weigh the 1983 cents. After reading the article in Numismatic News about someone finding a copper 1983 cent, I now look for them. I want one so bad!

Yes, I missed out on the late 1960s silver search. But now, 45 years later, it’s the copper search. Although my main goal of doing this is to someday have $5,000, $10,000 or maybe $25,000 in copper cents. I would hopefully be able to double, triple or more, my investment from face value. I realize that it is not currently legal to melt copper cents. I believe that we will have the cent for another five years or so before they eliminate it. Then several years later, they will change the law and make it legal to melt the copper cents. Just as they did with silver coins.

My final thoughts. There are a great deal of people saving copper cents. I would like to see more letters to the editor about their finds. Maybe a doubled die/variety expert can guide us in what to look for while pulling out the copper cents. I currently look for the 1995 doubled die and pull out wheats and oddities. I do have books on double dies/varieties. But there are so many of them, I cannot look for all of them. Maybe an expert can let us know the top 10 or 15 cents that are valuable enough to look for without slowing down my progress. Reading more about cent finds helps me feel a bit more normal. My friends and family think I’m crazy. Other roll searchers, please email me at erakoinz@optonline.net.

This “Viewpoint” was written by John Daino of Islip, N.Y. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

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2 Responses to Viewpoint: Yesterday’s silver is today’s copper

  1. mfransene says:

    i am retired and search thru 3-4 rolls a day looking for copper! so far i have about 1000 rolls worth $1.23 @ roll! i get the $25 boxes of pennies from my bank! a $500 investment thats now worth $1230 i think is not bad for a hobbie, i have 8 rolls of wheaties and no great rarities! but i keep looking!

  2. John Daino says:

    Hi mfransene, Keep up the good work. You must have been doing this for quite a while. What more can you ask for. You enjoy what your doing and it will be profitable!!
    Thanks and enjoy!!
    John Daino

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