Monday, January 18, 2010

Hunting the Copper Mine

If you have winter cabin fever like I do, here is an easy way to do some treasure hunting at your kitchen table.  Take $5 to the bank and ask for pennies. All banks have rolls of pennies. This is an easy and inexpensive way to get your family or kids into coin collecting or treasure hunting. 

There are several ways to approach the hunt.  You can buy a penny book at Walmart and see how many slots you can fill. Or you can look for rare coins.  Yes, there are still some pretty valuable pennies out there, and some recent ones too. Go to the Professional Coin Grading Service website, click on Price Guide, and then scroll down to Lincoln cents. You can see what the prices are for coins by grade. There are several error varieties out there. The 1999 with wide AM on the reverse is worth a couple hundred, and there are doubled dies listed from the 90's, 80's, 70's and 60's that are worth quite a bit in excellent condition. The 1969-S is worth about $60,000. That would certainly make my day! I keep a list of the potential valuable pennies and put them aside while hunting, then come back with a magnifying glass and check closely at the end.  The rest I toss into a bowl.

You can also just collect up wheat-back pennies.  You probably haven't seen any in circulation in a while (they changed to Memorial backs in 1959). However, they are still out there.  Hey, there's one right now, see?

I only found the one wheat, a 1958-D, out of this lot of 500 pennies.  But I was able to come up with three of the new 2009 Abe Lincoln pennies pictured below. You may not have seen any of these yet, but the Memorial back pennies that have been the design for most of our lifetimes are now also a thing of the past.  The 2009's have four different reverse sides with scenes from Lincoln's life, since 2009 is the 200th anniversary of his birth in 1809. (The Lincoln cent was introduced in 1909 for his 100th birthday).

The US Mint will introduce a new reverse design on the 2010 pennies that will have a union shield.  The first of these pennies was released on February 11, 2010, Lincoln's birthday.  Some people also collect pre-1982 cents since they were made of pure copper back then, making each copper penny worth more than 1 cent based on just the copper content.  (Now they are made of zinc plated with copper). So you can see there are lots of treasure hunting options.  I wonder if we'll be hunting for Memorial-back pennies in ten years?  Somehow I doubt it, but you never know!

1 comment:

  1. I did the coin hunting through the bank a long time ago and wish that I never gave it up. It's a great idea, and especially one for a family to get into. It's a great learning tool for young kids. We finally pulled our first wheatie out of the ground. Check out the video when you get some time (lincolnpennyproject). My 9 year old son actually detected it. Thanks for sharing your post. We will definitely go out and get some rolls.

    Take care,
    Steve from Seattle