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Wheat reverse 1959 cent a puzzler

 (Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

Is there such a thing as a 1959 Wheat Reverse Lincoln cent?

A lot of people would like the answer to that question. One 1959-D example that might be real is known. It was first declared genuine by the Secret Service, but in 1993 Professional Coin Grading Service said the coin was produced using fabricated dies using spark erosion. Others have since examined the coin. Its owner threatening a lawsuit against anyone disparaging the coin. In 2002, convicted forger and murderer Mark Hofmann claimed he made the coin using electroplating, but a second Secret Service study determined the coin to be genuine. In 2010, Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins and Collectibles sold the coin for $31,050.

Is there a 1910 VDB Lincoln cent?

Dr. Sol Taylor indicated in a 2008 article that four examples were known, all showing only part of the initials. None had been verified by a third-party certification service. According to David Lange in The Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents, “Vestigal traces of the letters V.D.B. may yet turn up from leftover 1909 V.D.B. reverse dies which were only partly effaced…[1910] Specimens have been reported having vestigal traces of the letters V.D.B. It’s not clear whether these letters remained on the working die or the working hub, but the former is more likely.”

No matter how you see it, coins certified by third-party services are examined by humans, not by machines. Just how consistent is grading by third-party services?

Each of the major third-party services has their own published grading guide as well as set of coins assigned grades that are identical to the standards set by that service. Each service is aware fatigue can become a problem for each of their graders, but by setting a standard the consistency with which coins are being graded should be even.

If grades assigned by third-party services are supposed to be consistent, why are coins encapsulated during a certain time period by some of these services priced higher by coin dealers?

Third-party grading services have occasionally tightened or loosened their grading standards based on current knowledge and possibly by market pressures. Changing these standards is not always a good thing, which is why you need to examine the coin, not its encapsulation.

A reader asked if there were ever any “forever coins” like the USPS forever stamps.

Technically any coin issued by a government is a forever coin regardless of the date. The exception would be when that government demonetizes that coin or currency. However all U.S. coins could be considered forever coins since our government never demonetizes its coins. In the U.S. our forever stamps are valid at whatever the cost of postage for mailing a first class letter is at that time. The stamps are not denominated. A U.S. coin might still be legal tender, but inflation erodes its value over time. A forever stamp is a better hedge against inflation as long as people want mail delivered. But the question is how long will there still be mail?

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

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