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Friday, May 28, 2010

Old pennies don't travel far

We're learning some things as we plow through a huge bucket of pennies to see what's in there. One lesson is that in a Portland guy's change, most of the pennies are from the Denver mint -- even the older ones, which one might have thought had a greater opportunity to migrate east from the mint in Phialdelphia.

Of the 145 oldest cents in the bucket, only 12 are from the Philadelphia mint, whereas 6 are from San Francisco (which used to mint some pennies in an older era), and the other 127 are from Denver.

Now, it's true that they used to mint more pennies in Denver than in Philly back then, but the difference in mint output nowhere near justifies the discrepancy in the pocket change.

Take 1961, for example. That year they pumped out 1,753,266,700 pennies from Denver, as compared with 753,345,000 from Philadelphia. Thus, 30% of that year's pennies came from Philly. But in our reader's pocket change over two decades, of the 50 pennies accumulated from that year, Denvers outnumbered Phillies 46 to 4; in other words, the City of Brotherly Love accounted for only 8%.

I'll bet penny collectors on the East Coast run into the reverse side of this, with Philadelphia coins more numerous than Denver. Maybe collectors on both coasts should throw a bucket of coins from their pockets into their car trunks and meet up in Kansas for a swap. I'll bet that's been done a few times.

In any event, we've got thousands more cents to check out before issuing a final report, but in the meantime, check out the color on this beauty, which was in with all the rest:

Not bad for 49 years old.

Comments (4)

It amazes me that these old pennies still are in circulation. Just today in my change at 7-Eleven I got a 1930-S penny in very nice condition.

1961 was a decent year.

You will want to separate all pennies minted 1981 or earlier, because the market value of their copper exceeds one cent. Pennies minted after 1981 contain very little actual copper. These more recent pennies are only worth the nominal value the Treasury has given them.

About five years ago it became illegal to melt pennies for the market value of their copper.

Just returned from an extended trip out West, checked my pocket change. Sure enough 7 of the 8 pennies are Denver Mint. As for the stash of pennies I left behind back East, sitting on the kitchen island, 10 of 11 were minted in Philly. The divide continues, even in today's more mobile society.

Back in my coin collecting days, all spent east of the Mississippi, the S-mints were incredibly hard to come by -- I ways always a bit jealous of my colleagues out West for having a better shot at the low mintage San Francisco strikes.

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