US Coins

Circulating coin shortage pushes Cent Project into 2021

The Lincoln cent is 111 years old in 2020, and cent collectors are hoping to learn more about the coins in circulation by undertaking a census this year.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint.

The circulating coinage shortage affecting commercial transactions as the global pandemic wears on is forcing a numismatic adjustment, as the organizer for a cent survey is extending his project timeline.

Lincoln cent specialist and dealer Charles Daughtrey announced June 25 that The Cent Project 2020, which aims to have up to 44,000 volunteers across the country search through Lincoln cents, is now extended into 2021.

“We are going to extend the deadline to sort and count cents to May of 2021 so we can have a chance to get through the coin shortage and still have a measurable result set we can count on,” he told members of The Cent Project group on Facebook.

He figures will take up to 44,000 people scattered across the United States to cumulatively sort through 220 million cents, approximately one percent of all Lincoln Memorial cents in circulation.

Scope of project

Participants would search circulated boxes from the bank and record a count of year and Mint mark for each box.

Daughtrey asks individuals to each sort through up to 10,000 cents (two boxes, or 200 rolls), and is attempting to coordinate enough participants around the country, linked by geography. If each participant did that, it would only require 22,000 searchers.

Daughtrey first announced the project May 6. Since then, he has secured commitments for searchers that will complete 5 percent of the total.

“This does NOT mean you should stop or even slow down what you already have going,” he told the group June 25. “I STILL want all your numbers to count. PLEASE consider doing as much as you can and get your sheets to me so I can get them entered into the database once it is completed.”

The target for completion was originally October, with results announced in November.

A temporary coin order allocation at all Federal Reserve Bank offices and Federal Reserve coin distribution locations was imposed by the Fed June 15, because decreased consumer transactions have limited the re-circulation of coins during the unfolding pandemic.

“Keep counting,” Daughtrey said. “We aren’t giving up, we are only making the deadline more realistic considering the pandemic and world situation we are in.”

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