US Coins

Reader finds mysterious zinc cent in antique store

A 1982 Lincoln cent and cent blanks encased in acrylic are possibly employees’ souvenirs from when the Ball Corp. began supplying the U.S. Mint with cent planchets.

Image courtesy of Sam Hilton.

The latest Coin World weekly issue, dated Nov. 27, 2017, is out the door, and we present exclusive previews of a few articles, to be found also in your latest digital edition of Coin World.

A reader’s antique store find something of a mystery

A reader found an unusual item in an antique store that no one quite recognizes. As Paul Gilkes writes in “Readers Ask,” the collector found a small package dating to about 1982 that illustrates the conversion to a new composition for the Lincoln cent that year. The item features an unplated zinc blank, a copper-plated zinc planchet, and a 1982 Lincoln copper-plated zinc cent. The package was labeled as being from Ball Metal & Chemical Division, the producer of the planchets.

Gilkes contacted several authorities, including Jarden Zinc Products, which was spun out of Ball some years ago. A firm spokesman said that no one at the company remembered the “fascinating” souvenir.


Listed in books, but they don’t actually exist

The VAM-4A die marriage of 1883-CC Morgan dollar is listed in several standard references to Morgan dollar varieties. However, as John Roberts writes in his “About VAMs” column, appearing exclusively in the print and digital issues of Coin World, the marriage really does not exist.

As researchers learn more about the series and study certain die marriages more carefully, they have realized that certain marriages have been misidentified. Roberts believes that the marriage listed as VAM-4A is actually the VAM-8A marriage.


The source of a smear can be uncertain

Mike Diamond writes in his “Collectors’ Clearinghouse” column that the cause for the smearing of design elements related to “an off-center uniface strike” can be difficult to determine. Letters, numbers and design elements like a portrait can all “smear” or become distorted.

Each piece has to be studied individually in an effort to determine the precise cause of the smear. For some pieces, the uncertainty “makes it impossible to arrive at a confident determination,” Diamond writes.


A collection that glows in the right light

“While recently working on some world notes, I rediscovered a different way to collect paper money,” writes Wendell Wolka in “Collecting Paper.” He explains, “One of the more recent innovations of legitimate bank note printers is the use of fluorescent or ultraviolet inks to print ‘secret’ and, to the naked eye, invisible design features, as well as design elements that either ‘glow’ or change color when exposed to ultraviolet light.”

To learn more about why a collection of notes with ink that glows is worthy of a collector’s focus, be sure to read Wolka’s column in Coin World.

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