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Hidden Gem: Blazing Silver 1943 penny

One morning in April 2018 I went to a nearby store and checked the Coinstar machine to see what I could find. A couple of coins on the floor near the machine got my attention. When I looked into the reject slot, my curiosity turned into shock when I saw the reverse of a Walking Liberty Half Dollar!

As I scooped everything up (including two dimes and three pennies) and walked away, I turned over the half dollar to see the year. 1920. I walked through the store processing what had just happened.

I never dreamed that I would find one in circulation, but it happened. It just goes to show that you never know when, where, or what the next find will be.

Tyler, Texas

I walked into the fast-food emporium where I always have lunch during workdays. I ignored the menu which I know by heart and gave my order to the same man who has taken it for ten years. Afterward, things got interesting!

He told me that he had just opened a new roll of 2019 pennies for change when he noticed a silver-colored penny at the very end of the roll. Knowing that I had an interest in coins, he held onto it for me. At first, I thought it was just an old steel coin mixed into the roll, but he assured me it was brand new and straight from the bank. It was a blazing silver 1943 penny, seemingly in proof condition.

A thought occurred to me and I told him about the program that the Mint had to try to interest people in coin collecting. I explained how they were adding collectible coins to regular rolls so that people will find them, perhaps turning them onto numismatics!

He told me that he had saved it for me. I offered him the five-dollar bill I had in my pocket, but he refused it. He also said he would bring in some older bills for me to look at. Two days later I found a 1947 Roosevelt dime in AU condition in the Coinstar machine, making my coin collecting week complete!

Joseph Kacoyannakis
Hudson, Mass.

As a coin collector, I had the opportunity to buy 11,000 wheat pennies. As I began the task of searching through the mound of ‘wheats,’ I found a slightly smaller coin. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a well-worn 1838-O Liberty Seated dime! You just never know. The search continues.

Thomas Quirk
Greensboro, Ga.

I’ve been checking the return/reject chutes of the Coinstar machines (and the area around them as well) for over a decade now. I’ve retrieved some very interesting and unique items, from common modern US and foreign coins to old, ‘obsolete’ coins.

The oldest ‘obsolete’ coin I’ve found is a “Trime” (silver 3 Cent piece) of 1853 (Variety I). When I first saw it, I thought someone trimed a dime for some reason. Obsolete foreign coins have been mostly “national currency” (pre-Euro issues) of France (Francs) and West Germany (Pfennigs and Marks).I would consider Australia as the farthest country found in and around a Coinstar. Of course, living in Cleveland, Ohio the “closest” foreign country would be Canada--right across Lake Erie. Most of my Canadians are the nickel or nickel bonded steel coins post 1968.

All that said, I would like to put up a challenge to all those who “hunt” coins in the Coinstars: “Beat” or match your finds to mine.

Happy hunting, fellow collectors!

Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

There is an element of ancestral intrigue associated with coin collecting. My father left quite a diverse US denominational series assortment to us which includes: Indian Head cents, rare Lincoln wheat ear pennies, Barber dimes, quarter dollars, half dollars, and other silver varieties.

What remains a mystery to me is where and when some of these coins were acquired. Perhaps I forgot to ask. Albeit, it is fascinating to speculate whether my paternal grandfathers may have carried around uncirculated coins in pocket change. The 1892-S Barber half dollar I own in “Fine” condition comes to mind. Great-grandfather Walik and Grandfather Paul were Slavic anthracite coal miners in northeastern Pennsylvania. Being in possession of currency or a half dollar during the later 19th and early 20th century would have been hard to come by when making their purchases at the company store.

Coin collecting remains an avid pastime for me, as does genealogical research for the hereditary detective work it uncovers. Recently I found a 1914 Lincoln cent outside a coffee bistro drive-thru in southeast Michigan. Its circulation value at VG certainly fills a hole. But it also gets me thinking about a tribute to a heritage that earned it.

Happy collecting!

Mark A. Sleboda
Redford Twp., Mich.