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Four Not So Fantastic?
December 04, 2008

Call me puzzled. Collectors as a group have strong opinions. One current opinion somewhat mystifies me. Let me explain.

I received a response to last week's poll question about whether collectors would be buying Abraham Lincoln commemorative silver dollars next year, but the writer went on to comment about the upcoming four cent designs that will be released to circulation next year, too.

"If my money holds out, I will probably buy the Lincoln silver dollar. It makes a lot more sense than four different versions of the Lincoln cents. What a total waste of the productive capacity of the Mint."

The swipe at the four cents is a related topic, but I have received a fairly large number of similarly expressed sentiments in other e-mails and letters to the editor in recent weeks.

As I said, I don't get it.

When legislative proposals arrive in Congress to abolish the cent, a majority of collectors rise up to defend it.

When the numbers of commemorative coins, special collector sets and special precious metal issues get expensively out of hand for the average collector to buy, I receive numerous complaints.

So why is there what seems to be a significant number of collectors who take a swing at something that will make the cent relevant to the rest of the country for the 12 months of 2009 as we observe the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln?

We will get them for face value in our change, so the price is certainly not excessive. They will be incorporated in the standard mint sets and proof sets, so everyone will have an opportunity to buy collector versions if they so choose in sets that they would normally buy anyway.

So why the bashing of the four cents? Unless it means collectors really do want to see the cent abolished and more and more expensive gold and silver coins offered to collectors instead.

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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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