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Viewpoint: 1979-D cents showing up everywhere

I read Dave Harper’s “Buzz” column today regarding finding a BU Pennsylvania quarter in your change. That reminded me of something strange that I’ve been finding all over Southern Illinois the past couple of months or so. That item is uncirculated 1979-D pennies. They’ve been popping up all over the place!

I’m the accountant here at work, and as such I’m the keeper of the “petty cash” box. A co-worker brought in a paper roll of pennies wanting two quarters one day, and after he had left I opened the roll (as usual) to look for any goodies that might be hiding inside. That was the day I found the first three of what has turned out to be a growing number of 1979-D pennies that look almost brand new.

At the time, I figured they were just three long-since forgotten pennies that someone had found in a drawer or something, giving them a new home at a local fast food restaurant. The individual who had included them in the roll eats out for nearly every meal, and the pennies he brings in to trade out every week or so pretty much exclusively come from the restaurants he visits.

A few days later, while visiting at my parent’s house, I found another one hiding in the loose change my father always has sitting on the counter (It’s an old habit of mine to pick through his change. I’ve done it since I was a little kid.) I thought it was weird to find another 1979-D penny in like-new condition in 2007, but figured it was just a coincidence.

Not long after, I was walking out of a local Wal-Mart store and spotted a shiny penny on the floor, tails side up. Never one to pass up free money (no matter how small), I expended the effort to lean down and pick it up. Lo and behold, yet another 1979-D penny in uncirculated condition.

A short time later, my wife and I were eating at a local favorite restaurant of ours, Larry’s Pit Bar-BQ. When I went up to pay, I spotted another of the 1979-D uncirculated pennies in the little bowl that serves as their “take-a-penny, leave-a-penny” tray. I switched it out for a replacement penny.

One night after work, I stopped to buy a gallon of milk from the Farm Fresh milk store. When at the counter, I saw a shiny penny tails side up in their “take-a-penny, leave-a-penny” tray. I could tell it was made of copper, and I knew what year and mintmark it was going to be before I even picked it up. Yes, yet another 1979-D penny in uncirculated condition. Of course I switched this one out, too.

What is going on with this? They’re so widespread around here, it occurred to me that they might have come from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank to achieve this kind of distribution. I wonder where the stash originated? I sure would like to find some full rolls of those pennies! I know they’re not worth much, but I’m having a lot of fun finding them. I’ve even started putting them in cardboard coin holders, labeling them with the date and place where I found them. That probably sounds dumb, but part of the fun I glean from coin collecting is pondering the history of where my coins have been and what kind of life they’ve led. I wonder where these pennies had been hiding for all these years before they mysteriously showed up in circulation?

Keep up the good work! I really enjoy your “Buzz” columns!

Bradley R. Hutson resides in Sesser, Ill.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to david.harper@fwpubs.com.

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