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Letters to the Editor (Feb. 6, 2018)

Copper 1943 cents make headlines, but hard to find

I was sorting through some of my older pennies/cents, and I happened to look at a 1943 penny/cent, and it appears to be be copper, at least copper coated.

Upon looking through Numismatic News, December 5 Edition, I noticed that such a coin may be worth a lot, as it is rare.

How is the best way to verify that this is indeed a error, and a rare coin.??

Duane. K. Enger
Address withheld

Editor’s note: Copper (bronze) 1943 cents are very rare. Nearly all of them were made of steel. Sometimes you find coins that are deliberately plated with copper to deceive. A plated steel cent will be attracted to a magnet. See if yours is. Another ruse is to scrape away part of the “8” on 1948 cents. You will have to have your coin checked out by an expert. See a local coin dealer or contact a third-party grading service.

Lost purchasing power leads to throw-away cents


A few weeks ago the e-question was raised: “Is the U.S. cent under serious threat of abolition?”

I would like to add that the paper dollar bill is too, but that’ll be another letter. All of those who responded to the question seem to agree it is.

Many readers cited the practice of many world countries eliminating their “cents” (lowest denomination coin) in years past, mostly because those countries realized it was illogical to produce a coin at a price over its face value. One reader, like me, makes a trip to the car wash and finds mostly cents on the ground tossed out. (I once found a pile of cents equaling 20 cents on the island of two self-serve vacuums.) It seems no one wants the lowly cent. I also pick cents from the reject chute of Coinstar counting machines. Most prevalent are cents along with foreign and/or an occasional U.S. silver coin. (When I get 50 cents together, I’ll roll them up and take them to the bank. As Ben “Poor Richard” Franklin would say, “A [cent] found is a [cent] earned.”)

In 1792, the us cent had some purchasing power. But today, 226 years later, ask yourself, “What can I buy with a single “penny?” – Not even a “wad” of bubble gum! For all intents and purposes, the U.S. cent is a worthless coin, even if it cost about two cents to produce. The government is looking to save money and cut costs. They should look at the cent, Costing about double face, they produce billions of cents from each operating mint every year. Abolish the cent and there’s millions – maybe billions – of dollars saved each year. (The cent could still exist, but only “electronically” like the mill [$0.001] has since its conception.)

I hear a distant death-tolling bell. Could it be for the cent? Perhaps.

Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Fate of stamps might point to coin hobby future

Like most old guys who have collected coins my entire life, I wonder what will become of my collection. I am thinking about a similar story, one that could also play out in our hobby. as anyone ever heard of stamp collecting? Stamps were those government issued interesting little printed paper vouchers for prepaying the delivery of letters. Letters? Well, those were the ancient predecessors of emails and tweets and other modern Internet based communication.

I met a bright young man the other day and showed him a small stamp collection I had inherited. He had never heard of such a thing! Stamp collections, in mint condition, in nice folders, even new and unused still good for mailing, now sell for less than half their face value. Of course there are a few old rarities still being bought by investors. But the normal collection, those our fathers and grandpas spent evenings pouring over, are now pretty much oddities. Much like antique furniture, Hummel figurines and cut glass.

Might stamp or even coin collecting come back? Sure, but I wager it will be in 20 years and for six weeks. But we agree coin values certainly can’t drop below face value, because one can always spend them. Right? Oh, but are we not going to a cashless society? What about melt value? Oh my, that makes me feel ill.

See what I mean? The lesson is repeatedly clear, and applies to so much of life: we should collect for our own fun and curiosity, not rationalizing some great future, no matter what we might tell our wives.

Mark Parsons
Berthoud, Colo.

Eagle totals don’t add up on Mint’s website

Any reason why the Mint’s totals for January Eagle sales are not matching the cumulative totals at the bottom? For example the chart is showing 20,500 one- ounce gold eagles sold for January, but the total at the bottom reads 19,500. For the half ounce it’s 10,000 for January vs. 9000 at the bottom total, etc. I wonder if the January total represents 2017 and 2018-dated coins and the total at the bottom represents 2018-dated coins only?

Thomas Michels
Address withheld

Editor’s note: The Mint said its spreadsheet formula was in error Jan. 10.

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

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2018 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.