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By Jef Rietsma

The current state of the economy may imply otherwise, but David Binder said 2009 will be a good year for money — at least for those who collect it.

Binder is a numismatist, a coin collector, whose fondness ranges from rare pieces to complete and uncirculated sets of coins.

While Binder, 46, isn’t alone in his love for money, his passion for collectible pieces puts him in a class by itself.

When the Three Rivers resident was a kid and his friends were collecting baseball cards and comic books, Binder was sorting through rolls of pennies, organizing them by date, mint or wheat-backs from Lincoln Memorial-backs.

When the United States Mint during 1999 unveiled the five quarters in the initial batch of its 50 State Quarters program, Binder correctly predicted a new generation of numismatists would emerge.

2009 will see the release of six new quarter, four new penny back designs, and four presidents featured on new gold dollar coins. Binder said he expects the appeal to younger prospective collectors will continue.

“There are varying opinions about so many designs coming out in one year, but most collectors agree if it introduces a new audience to the hobb, then it’s not a bad thing,” Binder said, going out of his way to note the U.S. Mint is marketing the gold presidential dollars incorrectly.

Failing dollar

A member of the Kalamazoo Numismatic Club and organizer of a twice-a-year coin show in Three Rivers, Binder said until the U.S. Mint stops making $1 bills, any type of dollar coin in the United States will fail to gain mainstream acceptance.

He said Canada eliminated the paper dollar in 1986 and its residents had no choice but to accept $1 and $2 coins in the same manner they handle quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.

According to Binder, U.S. retailers oppose $1 coins because most cash register drawers don’t have a compartment for them, but taking pennies out of circulation, he suggests, would eliminate that problem.

“As long as we’re given a choice, the $1 coin will never catch on in the United States,” he said.
Mint fresh

The popular 50 State Quarters program concluded this year with the release of the final five states admitted to the United States.

In 2009, backs of six newly designed quarters will feature the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

On deck for the third year of the presidential gold dollar coins are the busts of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk and Zachary Taylor.

The back of the penny in 2009 will have four different designs to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Abraham Lincoln appearing on the one-cent piece and the 200th anniversary of his birth. Binder said the reverse side of the penny starting in 2010 will be redesigned again with a new, permanent design.

Binder, who assembles industrial saws for a living, said there’s talk about continuing the commemorative quarter concept for 11 years starting in 2010 by featuring U.S. National Parks.
He speculated that the appeal of the 50 State Quarters program to children stemmed in part from the fact the quarters could be obtained at an even exchange rate, contain information of a geographic nature that most children are familiar with and they have been collected just as enthusiastically by adults.

A penny saved

His introduction into coin collecting started as a 9-year-old, when a neighbor whose lawn he mowed offered him a $20 bill or a 1931 penny featuring an “S” for its San Francisco minting. The penny at the time was worth about $30.

Binder said he remembered his neighbor putting both currencies on the table and asking the young man to make a choice. A price guide the neighbor shared with Binder verified the value of the penny.

“I was 9 and didn’t feel I needed the bill so I took the penny,” he said. “The old penny was something that excited me … I don’t know if the redesigned pennies in 2009 will be received with the same intrigue.”

The highest-priced coin he had on display at the Three Rivers show earlier this month was a 1914 Denver-minted penny, rare because 1914 was the third-lowest year of mintage of the penny in Denver, he said. The asking price: $695.

The next show Binder plans to organize in Three Rivers will be the third Saturday in May at Three Rivers Middle Schoool.

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