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What's in Your Hand is Important
February 07, 2008

Circulation finds have been a popular topic for the 45 years I have been a collector. In my early years, they formed the core of my collection.

The introduction of clad coinage in late 1965 was the beginning of the end of this pastime as the backbone of the hobby and by 1969 about all you could find in change were coins from the prior 10 years. In the case of the formerly silver coins, the variety was even less.

However, the urge to look at my change has never left me. I still do it. Actual finds are few and far between. However I note the introduction patterns of new coins. I keenly wait for my first look at a 2008-dated coin. Readers began reporting finds of 2008 cents and nickels in late January.

People worrying about the state of the economy can have one more thing to worry about. In a boom, the new dates come out practically as the nation puts away its New Year's party hats. In slow times, the coins come out later.

This year's release seems to be coming somewhere between the two extremes, but somewhat closer to the bust side of the continuum than the boom side.

While in Germany I noticed the pull of circulation finds. There was a long line at the booth that offered to sell for face value the 2-euro circulating commemorative for Hamburg. To get an example of the coin from each of the five mints, the public was asked to pay 10 euros, or face value.

I probably should have joined the line, but I did not.

It is nice to witness the appeal that basic circulation coinage still has on people. It is too easy to get wound up about chopmarked Buffalo gold pieces or 2007-W American Eagles. I am not saying these precious metal coins are bad issues. They are not. But to better appreciate the special coins, maintaining roots to circulation coinage is important.

Some of the 2-euros given out might have been MS-70, but I expect that there wasn't a single person in that line who was thinking about American grading precision. It was just the collector impulse to get the coins that form a complete set at a great price. There is no more important collector impulse than that.

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Recent Comments
On February 7, 2008 M B said
Yes, indeed circulation finds are nice. I have been looking in my change since 1998, when I first moved to the US. In 2007, I got my best two finds: a 1914-D Lincoln cent that I found on the ground and a 1932-D Washington quarter that was given back to me in change from a grocery shopping trip.

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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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