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Coin Finds: Finding the First Coins of the Year

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Send your "Coin Finds" to numismatics@aimmedia.com and we'll get them in.

Please include your name, city and state. Names and addresses will be withheld from publication upon request. The editor reserves the right to to edit for content, style and length.

I, like a lot of readers, always start by reading the coin finds section and look forward to it every month. I started CRH in the 70’s as a kid getting 2 rolls of cents a week. I managed to fill most all of the common dates in my blue folders this way. As I grew my interest changed and coin folders were put aside, now many years later I am happy to say I have completed many series of US coins and some Canadian. I look back on those early days of CRH very fondly, the thrill of finding a coin I needed to fill a spot in those old blue folders will always be cherished.

Robert Harding
Address withheld

Just a day ago, I found a “W” mint mark Tallgrass Prairie quarter in my mother’s spare change. The coin was in almost MS-65 condition, so it is probably worth around $20-25. Previously, I had found a couple wheat pennies in other spare change, so these finds, as well as a few others, have taught me never to pass up a chance to look through pocket change.

Dominic Michalski
Pennsylvania

This morning (January 31) I received a shiny dime in change that caught my eye. It was a 2021-D! I'm glad Randy's Restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ still is "Cash Only."

Jim Chudd
Fort Collins, Colorado

I got two 2021 D pennies in change here in Angleton Texas.

Mary Jackson
Address withheld

Received in the mail today was a request for a donation to a cause I support. They enclosed a nickel like some groups do. To my surprise it was a 2006 S proof nickel with some smudging in the field. Sometimes it pays to look at the enclosed coins.

R J White
Bensalem PA

I’ve never been lucky enough to find a hoard of Walkers or a handful of Indian head cents, but I did have a few goodies when I was a young collector.

In elementary school I somehow convinced the cafeteria staff to let me search the lunchtime “take” for a couple of months. Most days were pretty mundane. Then within a week I found all three 1932 Washington quarters: the (P) was at least F while the D and S were at best VG, but I was happy to get them in any condition.

Shortly after that the top coin of my search showed up. Among the Roosevelt dimes was a shiny-new Merc. I grabbed it and saw 1916, then excitedly turned it over. Unfortunately, there was a blank where I’d fantasized about a “D” but who’s going to complain about a nearly 50-year-old Merc in XF?

Even with all that there was one more surprise. One weekend my parents took us kids to a nearby department store. We all wanted a treat, so we went to the bakery. The cashier started to make change, then stopped and said, “wait a minute, I somehow got a big old foreign coin in my drawer, so you won’t want that”. I took a quick glance and immediately said “OH YES I DO!!”

I still have that 1849-O Seated Liberty half.

Jeff K
King of Prussia, PA

As a long-time subscriber, I always enjoy articles and comments from regular collectors. Always seeing major articles about multi-million dollar collections is frankly a waste of my reading time. Those are coins and collections most of us "real collectors" will never be able to own, so why should we bother reading about them?

However, since I received my first coin in 1959, but it took me years to truly "find" what I had, I give thanks I did not know about wealthy collectors back then. I never would have started collecting. The coin was my great aunt’s test of my integrity. For years after receiving the coin I was always instructed via letter that I was to have it available for her inspection upon any upcoming visit. Aunt Mardo was a western pioneer who traveled West to Wyoming to homestead in the 1920's. She was also a true numismatist.

1. The coin she gave to me was an old 1937-D Buffalo nickel. What I didn't know was it only had three legs. I didn't figure that out till about 1975, which was when I "found" the coin and discovered why it was so important. When I told her what it really was she just chuckled and told me it took long enough. The next year she asked my father and I to evaluate her coin collection. We were surprised at all the coins she had accumulated. She passed away years later and we discovered she had left her coins to Dad and me. So, my "find" that took me about 26 years to find resulted in her decision as to who was worthy of her collection. It took me a couple more decades to finally have it certified. That was quite a find that she set me up to discover!

Since that time, I have had many interesting finds, such as:

2. Finding a 1909-S vdb in an old gray yard sale change box that my parents used only for weekly "penny poker" with the neighbors.

While visiting my mother a few years after my father had passed away, I found the box in the basement and decided to just spread them out to see what was there. They were all wheat cents because they had stopped playing poker for pennies years ago. They had graduated to nickels, dimes and quarters. Nothing larger though.

When I first found the 1909-S I was thrilled. Great date! But, what might be on the reverse at the bottom near the rim? I turned the cent over and with my young eyes I could see the three letters of the Holy Grail of Lincoln Wheat Cents; the 1909-S vdb. It took me about 20 minutes to believe what I had found. Mom was thrilled and said Dad was sending me a little extra cash, which he always got a kick out of doing. I think she was right.

3. A good friend of mine and I were offered 2000 Buffalo Nickels as a bulk purchase, all or none. The price asked was just slightly higher than jewelry grade nickels, so we bought all the small bags, little cigar boxes, coffee cans and loose Buffalo's offered. We just decided to separate them by year, not mints, and split them up so we each got about half of each year. Close enough we both figured. He passed away without ever looking through his. He just liked having them. I had learned my lesson from my Aunt Mardo so I got out my loupe and went through all of them. I found a lot of better dates, a lot of full horns and also one very special find; a 1936-D 3 1/2 leg Buffalo that at the time, if my grading skills were as good as my ANA High Honors in Grading said they were, indicated it was within the condition census and at that time worth about $1500.00. I sold it to a dealer friend of mine who had been looking for one for a client. Not bad for a coin that cost about 25 cents! I did take a photo or five of it with the phone I had at the time; just before I dropped it and ran over it with my truck. Bummer.

4. Sometimes the "finds" are closer than you think. During the depression Dad told me times were tight. His Mom wanted a new lamp, but they were prohibitively expensive. So, she made one using an old rewired lamp that she covered with pottery clay and then took baubles of all kinds and stuck them into the clay. There are buttons, beads, costume jewelry jewels, some of Dad's Track and Field Medals and a bunch of other fun stuff just stuck to the lamp forever. After my parents had both passed away I found that same lamp in a box in the garage attic. As I once again looked at the lamp that I remembered from Gramma's house I noticed a U.S. Cent stuck into the clay, not on the front in a place of honor but on the back where the electrical cord goes inside the lamp. Now, the fun part. What did I find? It is a 1909-S Lincoln Cent. Could it be another "found vdb"? I will never know because it is not going to be cracked out ruining the lamp. So this find must remain at least partially a dream.

5. This one was a fun find because it was right under the noses of about 25 other people at a regular, local dealer, Saturday bid board auction. There were the usual groupings of common Morgan Dollars that no one looked at unless they were uncirculated or a better date. I looked at all of them armed with my knowledge gained from my VAM book. One of the dollars was listed as a regular 1888-O. I saw something more; doubled lips, chin, eye, etc. It was indeed a "Hot Lips". I bid slightly lower than the circulated value for the grade. My bid was in line with typical common date bidding. No one else bid on this boring common Morgan. I won the coin. When it was my turn to pay I said "wow, a hot lips". This caused quite a stir with other bidders and with the dealer who put it on the board and hadn't noticed it either. Another fun "find".

6. I will stop with this "find" because at the time I’m writing this, it has yet to be certified. I know what it is because the obverse and reverse match the VAM book description and more so, it matches a certified piece that I own. This "find" is my most embarrassing in that it came from one of my own albums of Morgan Dollars. I decided to attribute all of my dollars using the VAM book. I had barely begun when I "found" a super VAM known as the King of Morgan VAM's; the 1878 7/8 TF Triple Die Obverse VAM-44, and a nice respectable grade as well.

Since then I have discovered in my own dollars E-reverses, other Hot Lips, O/S types, large CC over small CC, and a lot more with dollars, cents and all others in between. Also fun finds in foreign coins. Even gold.

I guess the point of all of this is, to change a quote of Yogi Berra, if you are a numismatist "you can see a lot just by looking"! Knowledge truly is power and in the case of numismatics it can equal money and more importantly FUN!

Doug Thom
Utah