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'Penny' Starts My Thoughts
July 24, 2012

I had lunch with former Krause Publications colleagues Clifford Mishler and Fred Borgmann yesterday at the Crystal Cafe here in Iola, Wis.

At the table, Clifford slid a clipping from USA Today my way that reports on the scheduled Aug. 6 landing of the Mars rover Curiosity.

He thought I would be interested because one little tidbit of information related to coinage.

The rover has what is called the Mars Hand Lens Imager instrument. To properly focus it, aboard is a 1909 cent.

The photograph showed a well preserved cent. Though from a tiny photo on newsprint, it could be anywhere from AU-58 to MS-65. It was hard to judge.

I have to admit I have not been paying attention to the new rover mission.

There is something sad about the necessity of needing a coin aboard a spacecraft to Mars to garner my attention.

I read Ray Bradbury when I was a kid, including the Martian Chronicles. When I was even younger I had read the many adventures of Tom Corbett, space cadet. I watched space launches from John Glenn in 1962 to the landing on the moon July 20, 1969.

Space then began a long slide down the ladder of my interests. Where it rates now exactly I cannot even say.

I checked out the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology website. While marveling at how much information is at our fingertips nowadays, I felt another pang of sadness that even on this website there has to be a button for kids labeled “Fun.”

How far we have come from the days when I would have considered any information about space to be fun.

Fortunately for me, my interest in all things numismatic has not diminished over the years. I guess that makes me a numismatic rover.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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