cents in spotlight
By Mark Ferguson
collectors will be examining pocket change as
2009 progresses, since four different Lincoln
cents will be issued in sequence during the
year. The issues commemorate the 200th
anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.
Their release coincides with the 100th
anniversary of the longest-running series of
circulating U.S. coins.
In previous years, Lincoln cents were typically
the first new coins of the year to appear in
circulation. According to one well-known source
for small cents, it may take longer than normal
for the first 2009 edition of the Lincoln cent
to enter commerce in large numbers.
"The Federal Reserve has made it pretty clear
that they have lots of older coinage in stock,
so they won't be playing favorites on new
stuff," he said. "There is a glut of coinage
Collectors have anticipated the new designs for
some time, and that has led to greater demand
and higher prices for Lincoln cents. Key dates
such as the 1909-S Lincoln, v.d.b. cent and
1914-D cent have soared in recent years, while
semi-key dates have also posted healthy
increases in value.
The market for more common and newer cents is
also witnessing plenty of action.
Some hobbyists go well beyond acquiring one
example of each date and Mint mark combination.
Instead, they "super size" their holdings and
obtain 50-piece Brilliant Uncirculated rolls
whenever they can be found.
Mass-market promoters are also buying large
numbers of lower-cost Lincoln cents to sell to
novices at inflated prices.
All of this activity has driven up prices and
depleted supplies of both the Wheat reverse era
cents of 1934 to 1958 and the Lincoln Memorial
reverse cents of 1959 to 2008.
Some of the newer dates in the series could be
among the better values.
The Lincoln cent has been made with a thin layer
of copper over a mostly zinc planchet since
1982. However, it took until 1988 for the Mint
to perfect the plating process. Many of the
Uncirculated cents of that era turned black or
corroded in storage. Pristine, problem-free
rolls struck from 1983 into the 1990s may be
tougher to locate than large original mintages
suggest, and those cents are a low-risk buy at
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