I discovered the world’s greatest hobby (numismatics, of course!)
in 1952 at the age of 13.
With a supply of Whitman folders I set about filling in the holes.
At the time it was theoretically possible to find Lincoln cents dating
back to 1909, including the prized 1909-S Lincoln, V.D.B. cent (I was
never so lucky), lots of Indian Head and some stray Liberty Head
5-cent coins, all silver series from 1916 onward plus the occasional
Barber issue, and, by going to banks, all Morgan and Peace dollars,
except the 1895 dollar from the Philadelphia Mint.
Now to the present time. On the January day I am writing this, I
have never received an Anthony, Sacagawea, Presidential or other mini
dollar in circulation. Lincoln cents in pocket change mainly date back
A 1957 Lincoln cent with Wheat reverse would be “rare.” Five-cent
coins mostly date from the 1960s onward, and dimes and quarter dollars
have dates from 1965 onward. Half dollars may as well not exist. I
haven’t received one in change in years.
Unlike 1952 when everything was of standard design, today it is
possible to get an album or folder and from pocket change complete the
50 State quarter dollars set and to acquire District of Columbia and
U.S. Territories and America the Beautiful quarters.
We have four different reverses on 2009 Lincoln cents — plus the
new reverse introduced in 2010. At first I did not like the last
design, but since then I have come to think it was a good change.
The 5-cent coin series offers interesting types from the Lewis and
Clark bicentennial years — my favorite being the Ocean in View design.
Roosevelt dimes stand alone as being unchanged in design since
1946. This reminds me to mention that for Whitman Publishing LLC I
will be creating books to be published next year on Winged Liberty
Head dimes, Roosevelt dimes, Standing Liberty quarter dollars and
those half dollars in which Miss Liberty is striding (per the Mint
description). Today, the latter series is variously known as Liberty
Walking (traditional usage) and Walking Liberty (seemingly more often
While rare dates and Mint marks are no longer to be found in
pocket change, in recent decades a dynamic subculture has arisen in
the collecting of doubled dies, repunched Mint marks and the like,
using the Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties. Some
can be worth hundreds of dollars — a treasure in pocket change.
In contrast, in 1952 hardly anyone was interested in such things!
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.