This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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I wrote this essay as an assignment for the Senior Citizen Memoir-Writing class that I attend at the Weymouth, Mass., Senior Center.
In my lifetime, I have written one, and only one, poem of which I feel justly proud. Allow me to tell you about it, write it out for your and garner your opinion.
In order for you to understand my poem, you must know a little bit about coin collecting.
In the period 1950 to 1964, I was an enthusiastic coin collector. Being of a limited income, I collected my coins out of circulation, but occasionally I would purchase a specimen. I organized my collection in the popular, but inexpensive, blue folders that Whitman Publishing Company marketed. The success of Whitman Publishing Company’s coin books and coin folders helped popularized the coin collecting hobby, almost to a frenzy.
In the 1960s, marriage, mortgage and five children diverted my attention away from coin collecting to postcard collecting. Postcard collecting at that time was quite inexpensive. I never returned to coin collecting, but I am still an ardent postcard collector.
In the 1950s, the era in which I wrote this poem, United States coins were minted in Denver, San Francisco and Philadelphia. The Denver mint imprinted the coins it manufactured with a “D” mintmark. The San Francisco mint imprinted the coins it manufactured with an “S” mintmark. Coins minted in Philadelphia bore no mintmark. In the early 1950s, on the East Coast, where I live, coins with the “S” mintmark were noticeably less common than coins from the other two mints.
In 1909, the United States Treasury used the Lincoln design on cents for the first time. The original design of the Lincoln cent bore the initials of Victor D. Brenner (VDB), the designer of the coin. Later in the year, the U.S. Treasury had the initials dropped from the coin.
In 1909, the first year of issue of the Lincoln design, cents without mintmarks circulated freely. It was a reasonable ambition for a young collector of the mid-1950s to acquire from circulation a 1909 no-mintmark cent with or without the VDB imprint. In 1909, the Denver mint did not manufacture any one cent coins. The 1909 cents with the “S” mintmark have become rarities.
When I was attending college, I was an enthusiastic coin collector. In those days, peer pressure dictated that it wasn’t masculine for a male to write poetry. Nevertheless, I wrote a poem about coin collecting. I enjoyed the poem well enough to submit it to the Numismatic News, a popular coin collector’s newspaper. I was so embarrassed about writing a poem that I submitted it using the pen name Alan F. Townsend. The Numismatic News printed the poem in the spring of 1955.
My concept of good poetry is rhymes. That doesn’t mean that other forms of poetry are inferior; that means that my poetical skills haven’t developed beyond rhyming; nor do I intend to develop my poetical skills beyond rhyming. Please, read and enjoy my one and only poem.
In Colorado’s Denver mint,
My finished shape I took.
I left there with a shiny tint.
You’ve seen how fine I look.
I travelled to an Eastern Bank,
One of a roll of fifty
And found my way to a boy named Frank,
Who thought I was so nifty.
“Look, Dad, a penny, shiny bright,”
He said so merrily.
“In my collection this very night,
For all the world to see.”
So here am I, in a blue folder,
With so much company.
Some of them are much, much older,
And one says VDB.
This Viewpoint was written by William J. Pepe, a hobbyist from Weymouth, Mass. 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 email@example.com.