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Frenzy over 2009 cents
By Al Doyle

Rather than wait for banks to obtain a supply of the first of four commemorative 2009 Lincoln cents, impatient collectors are bidding prices on today's modest supply to incredible levels.

EBay became the source for numerous 50-piece Brilliant Uncirculated rolls shortly after the Feb. 12 ceremony honoring Lincoln's 200th birthday and a limited release of the new cents. Prices varied widely from lot to lot, but even buyers at the lower end of the spectrum paid dearly for their coins.

Winning bids for 25 rolls sold on Feb. 16 and 17 ranged from $26.99 to $52.99 per roll. The total realized of $914.21 averages $36.57 per roll. Five of the 25 winning bidders paid less than $30. Three lots sold for more than $50 each. Free shipping was offered on most of these sales, which is a small consolation when paying an average price of 73 cents per coin.

Even dealers and wholesalers who have extensive contacts with banks and armored car firms have been unable to obtain any new cents. Coin merchants who have well-deserved reputations as Lincoln cent suppliers are receiving dozens of calls a day from customers who are left disappointed.

The Federal Reserve has ordered 150 million Childhood (Log Cabin) reverse cents. That is a small amount by 21st century standards, and the Fed has not provided a precise release date for the coins. If that number remains unchanged, it's quite possible that the majority of these one-year commemorative design cents will be hoarded by hobbyists and never enter circulation.

So where could prices go in the future? Even with uncertainty about when the general public will be able to obtain new cents, the recent eBay prices appear to be unsustainable. Once dealers are able to obtain a supply of the new 2009 Lincoln, Childhood cents, prices should retreat to a more reasonable range.

It's safe to say that collectors will have to spend more for 2009 Lincoln cents than they have paid for new cents in recent years. Even at $10 a roll – a sum that would have been considered outrageous in 2007 or 2008 – patient buyers who wait a few weeks should do far better than overly anxious eBay bidders.


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