Member Journal Entry:

Common Cents?

Posted: 12/26/2009 6:16:53 PM | Views:753

A penny for your thoughts

I have been collecting pennies for many years and I have a nice set of circulated Lincoln pennies in an album, I just recently started building graded sets, one for circulated coins recognizing my budget is limited at best, I decided that I build a MS66 or better set of circulated pennies and a PF69 set of proof memorial pennies. (I do recognize that PF69 also may be next to impossible to find in pre-83 pennies.) I’m finding the challenge to be both fun and intriguing. But alas, I am puzzled when it comes to the cost of most PF70 cents for the set. The elusive PF70 penny has me really scratching my head.

In conjunction with my journey into collecting graded coins, I also started building a PF70 set of State Quarters. Apart from the key 1999 silver proofs, the rest of the set is quite affordable and quite obtainable. I understand the key date concept but I don’t see any key dates in the proof set of pennies until you start getting back into the early 80’s and earlier. Are PF70 Lincoln Memorial Cents such a rarity that they command a premium that dwarfs PF70 silver coins minted in the same years? With all of the various auctions I have been monitoring over the past couple of months, I found you can get a silver proof 70 coin for between 25 and 35% with high degree of regularity. You cannot touch a proof 70 Lincoln Memorial cent for less than 40% of book and in many cases someone is willing to pay upwards of 70+% of book value. I looked at the PF70 pops as a ratio of the total coins graded and they certainly do not seem to be out of line. PF70 pops seem to run between 10 and 12% for zinc composition pennies, a whole lot less for copper pennies. For silver coins, the PF 70 pops seem to run closer to 20%. That makes sense given the malleability of silver compared to copper and zinc but does that really account for the discrepancy in relative prices?

The only other factor which comes to mind has to do with the number of collectors who collect pennies compared to those who collect other coins. Given the popularity of the state quarter program, I would have expected to see the same sort of spread in the market for silver state quarters but the numbers do not lie, the difference is still there. I do know that supply and demand, primarily, will drive the pricing of all coins. So for the time being, I will continue bide my time and watch my bidding as not to get caught up in the emotion of bidding at various auctions. As such my collection of pennies will be a very slow growing collection and I will continue to hunt for that elusive and affordable PF70 Lincoln Memorial cent.

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