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Will Public Save 2009 Cents?
January 16, 2009

Final mintage figures for 2008 show that the U.S. Mint struck 5,419,200,000 cents. That is down from 7,401,200,000 in 2007 and 8,234,000,000 in 2006.

The two-year decline in percentage terms is around 34 percent. Interestingly, the two-year decline for overall coin production is almost the same, at 35 percent, and much of this seeming difference is simply due to rounding conventions for expressing those figures.

Cents make up over half of U.S. Mint production at 53 percent. Total coin production in 2008 was 10,141,580,000 coins.

Economic conditions play the single largest role in the demand for the one-cent coin. Everybody can see that the economy is sinking badly. Cent demand sinks with it.

However, the economy is not the only factor. 2009 will prove or disprove this assertion. Will the four new designs honoring the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth spur production to the point that it will be a larger overall share of annual production? In other words, will the share of 53 percent in 2008 rise to some higher figure? That is something we will just have to wait and see.

Collectors can be counted on to save cents in large numbers, but for collectors, large numbers are millions rather than billions. It will take a huge public engagement with the new cent designs to push demand up high enough to register on overall 2009 Mint production figures when they are compiled.

Let's watch and see what happens.

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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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