Collecting nice Memorial cents

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by gbandy, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. gbandy

    gbandy Junior Member

    Hello, I’ve lurking in the forums here for a few years, but this is my first post. I’ve been collecting Lincoln cents casually for many years. I started with pulling circulated coins out of change and then buying a few boxes from the bank to search. I’m now interested in upgrading the quality of the coins I have. I purchased a couple of memorial cent sets on eBay for about 20 bucks each, unfortunately most of th coins were only okay: spots, marks, poor strike etc.

    My question is, what are my options to find really nice coins, seems like buying slabbed coins is one option, but maybe overly expensive. I’ve also bought a number of BU bank rolls, but it’s amazing how many of those coins I need to look at to find one I’m happy with. Any other options or considerations for this project?

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  3. Wingnut6999

    Wingnut6999 Currency loving custodian

    Mint sets maybe. Sell what u don't use and get some money back.
  4. gbandy

    gbandy Junior Member

    I’ve pulled a few from mint sets, lots of the ones I’ve seen from the 70’s have toned unattractively. The 60’s and 70’s definitely seem to be the most difficult years. The coins from the 80’s and 90’s mintn sets are usually pretty nice.
    Wingnut6999 likes this.
  5. Wingnut6999

    Wingnut6999 Currency loving custodian

    Check pawn shops if u have any. There's one near me with alot of nice coins. Some nicer mint sets too.
  6. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Any chance you have a dealers shop nearby? The dealers I mess around with have boxes and boxes of nice cents to browse and find the pieces that meet your standards.
  7. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    It used to be pretty "easy" to put together Gem memorial sets from mint sets but now the sets are getting hard to find and a lot of the cents are tarnished.

    BU rolls are starting to get too pricey to search.

    For the earlier dates (pre-'85) options have become far more limited in the last ten years. The best bet might be to look for "out of the money" slabbed coins. These are mistakes by submitters who were hoping for higher grades. If you can find them they are quite inexpensive (10 or $20).
    BadThad likes this.
  8. LA_Geezer

    LA_Geezer Well-Known Member

    Interesting what some might consider inexpensive for coins that aren't regarded that highly. YMMV
  9. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    If you've ever tried to chase down something like a nice attractive, well struck, good dies, and clean '79-D cent you'd think $10 or $20 was free.

    Keep in mind that back in the day this was actually pretty "easy'. "All" you needed to do was look at a couple hundred 1979 mint sets and there'd be a nice Gem in about MS-66. There'd be several coins the services would grade MS-65 but most of these aren't extremely attractive. Or you could get a couple of rolls from about 100 different sources and there'd be several nice clean coins but most would have weak strikes and worn dies. Either way it just required a little heavy lifting, lots of postage, and a little patience.

    Now days finding a couple hundred '79 mint sets is a huge task and not for the faint of heart. Even if you could find the sets most of the Gems are going to be tarnished because nobody cared about moderns. There are still lots of rolls of these but they aren't as inexpensive or as pristine and uncherried as they once were. Yes, you could send off to buy rolls from different sources but the postage will eat you alive. You can't just order a bag and be done with it because many bags will contain no Gems at all. Besides what do you do with 4999 bad pennies if you do find one. You'll be out about $125.

    There are lots of moderns that once just required hard work to find but now they take money. But the upside of this is that there are still almost no collectors so you can pretty easily find something like a '79-D cent in MS-66 for just $20 or so. The few collectors of these want the higher grades so blazing Gems can be had for a song; no hard work and just a little cash.

    Most dates won't be too tough to find on your own but if you want nice gemmy (MS-64 and higher) then many dates are cheaper than ever to find but will cost some money.

    Coins like the '82-P quarter are going to be tough even in sabs because the services grade some pretty poorly struck coins high grade. Indeed, this date is quite scarce fully struck from good dies.

    I know the cost seems high but then the cost of nice moderns has always been far higher than most people realize.
    RonSanderson and BadThad like this.
  10. Greg M.

    Greg M. New Member

    To GregHandy from a different Greg:

    I read with interest your post about putting together a nice set of Lincoln Memorials, and what would be the best way to assemble such a set. In my experience, I have never bought a Memorial cent (other than proof issues) as with a lot of diligent searching I have acquired all dates and mints 1959 to present all with mint or near mint luster from circulation (mostly searching bank rolls of circulated coins).

    This points up what I feel is one of the true pleasures of numismatics which many new collectors are missing out on: the joy of collecting strictly from circulation as was more common many years ago. Not only will you save beaucoup dollars getting all your coins from bank rolls, it is possible to assemble a complete date and mint mark set of Memorial cents all in shiny near full mint luster condition. And you can easily continue with the four different 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial reverse designs and the new shield reverse type that started in 2010. There are over 120 dates and mint marks to search for, including some modern scarce and valuable coins, making the quest to put together a Lincoln cent collection from circulation a fun and rewarding – and VERY POSSIBLE - challenge!

    It is possible, with time and devoted searching, to find all the Memorial cents back into the early 1970s with almost full original copper brilliance, and coins in the 1960s and even 1959 with traces of mint color, giving you a most attractive collection with great eye appeal – all for face value.

    There are over three dozen varieties that will add more fun to your search, such as the 1960 and 1970 large and small dates, the 1982 copper and copper plated zinc large and small date varieties, and the more common (compared to the scarce 1992-D close AM and 1999 wide AM) 1998 and 2000 wide and close AM varieties, to name just a few. In addition, there are some real “rarities” to be looked for: notably the 1969-S double die obverse; 1972 double die obverse; 1983 double die reverse; 1992-D close AM; and 1999 wide AM. With the one exception of the 1969-S double die which is so rare most price guides do not even list a value, in MS 65 these other coins list for $200 to $700 in current price guides, so are still worth a pretty penny premium in high circulated grades. But as all the holes in a Lincoln Memorial folder are for just the regular date and mint mark coins, it can be easily filled, as the rare coins, all being varieties or mint errors, are “extras” to a complete set. You can consider your Lincoln Memorial set complete without these varieties, or can designate some or all as necessary for a complete set totaling 140 or more coins (not counting proofs which must be purchased) for many hours of roll searching fun!

    And previous wheat ear reverse designs will occasionally turn up, usually from the 1940s or ‘50s. But you will also on occasion come across cents that are 80 or more years old, as dates back into the 1930s or even older are still out there. Even if that wheat ears reverse you spy lying face down on the table when you open a roll of Memorial reverse Lincolns looks well worn, you will feel a thrill as you ask yourself “When I turn it over, will it be a 1931-S, or maybe a 1922 no-D!?” Likely it will just be a common later date, but you will still treasure the find.

    Additionally, it is not uncommon to come across very recent cents in near mint condition that have acquired a nice, even beautiful deep purplish/reddish and blue toning.

    So my advice to you is to give it a try - do like the collectors of old by collecting the current Lincoln Memorial, Bicentennial and Shield reverse cents from circulation. You may, like collectors in the past, find there is a special pride and enjoyment in completing a set from circulation (even if some of the coins are lower grades) that simply does not exist with a collection of coins you have bought.

    Hope this helps, from Greg M.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  11. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    Welcome to your first post. What is it you are attempting to do? Complete a set? Collect only uncirculated? I would think your purpose would dictate where and what you collect. Slabbed coins would give you the choices you might be looking for, but of course a bit more expensive.
  12. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    I agree!

    I believe almost every collector stands to learn a great deal from collecting circulating coinage and it is a very valuable and rewarding pastime for very little expense. I've been collecting dimes and quarters since 1996 and these collections bring me a great deal of enjoyment, knowledge, and pride.
  13. gbandy

    gbandy Junior Member

    I did already complete a set of of Lincoln’s up to 2009 with the exception of most of thof key and semi key dates. Majority of the memorial cents were pulled from circulation: including buying a few boxes from banks. A lot of the wheats I found searching from bulk lots, also received as a gift from my grandfather several of the scarcer dates including a nice 1931-s in AU.

    It seemed like it would be a fun sidetrack to look for upgrades to my Memorials versus shelling out big bucks for 09svdb and 14d, etc. After finding a few examples of nice coins in mint sets and searching a handful of bu rolls, it’s been interesting to see how difficult it is to find really nice examples of coins that were minted in the billions and should theoretically be “commonplace” I’ve probably looked through 20 bu rolls of 1963d cents without finding any gems. 80% of what I’ve see can be eliminated for unattractive spotting, another 10% for nicks and contact marks, and another 10% for poor strike, lot of these seem to have a depression on the reverse at the base of the stairs where Lincoln’s Head is.

    It’s been interesting and when I do find one that I find acceptable to put in a 2x2 it’s pretty satisfying.

    I haven’t spent any time looking for varieties, sounds like another project for the spent rolls I have!
    BadThad likes this.
  14. gbandy

    gbandy Junior Member

    Thanks for the reply Greg! I haven’t done much variety searching, will have to give that a try!
  15. Wintry Mix

    Wintry Mix New Member

    I like Greg M.'s reply. I found it interesting because as one of the "collectors of old", me and my friends considered it cheating to buy a coin to complete our set (board). If it wasn't plucked out of circulation you were embarrassed to say where you got it.
    kountryken likes this.
  16. Greg M.

    Greg M. New Member

    I had forgotten until you mentioned it, but back in the day (early 1960s) when I first started collecting Lincolns, if not being embarrassed to say a coin had been bought and not found in circulation, even the thought of buying one was anathema while I was very happy with well worn "good" coins that I had found in my weekly rolls or $50 bank bags of cents I went through. On one occasion, after seeing a friend's effort to buy higher grade coins for his collection, I sold one of my precious finds - a VG+-Fine 1931-S in order to upgrade it. But within a week I was so sorry I had let my find go I went to the dealer I had sold it to and begged him to rescind my sale. Still have it as part of my collection today.

    About 12 years or so ago I finally broke down and, because by now I knew any chance of finding early Wheats in circulation was nill to none, I bought the 5 or 6 Wheaties I had never found (the two 09-S, a 14-S, 22 no D, and couple others I do not recall) to complete my Lincoln set back to 1909, which I still have today and regularly keep up to date with each year's new issues.

    Greg M.
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  17. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    If you're after high quality Memorial cents.....GOOD LUCK! I've been working on a 1959-2008 set for about 20 years. Finding quality, well-struck coins for each issue is very difficult. My advice is to try and find someone with an old stash. A good number of my coins came from a 10,000+ penny stash my friend started in the 70's. Others can from OBW rolls, mint sets and just getting lucky at shows/dealers where I snagged a few for like 30 cents.
    gbandy likes this.
  18. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    Mint sets don't work well! I have searched hundreds of them and only plucked a few up to my standards. Any more I hate mint sets, I blame them for the overall dealer/collector misconception that you can pull MS-68 coins from any of them. BAH!

    I estimate I have 3-4X the time looking for quality memorial cents than searching for wheats. You cannot walk into a dealer and ask to see their "memorial cent box", there is NO SUCH thing. The response I always get is to check their bargain bin, customer filled Whitmans (those are always junk) or that they have some rolls. Usually, I've been forced to buy rolls and search them. Sadly, very few coins meeting my standards can be found in rolls. I've bought several hundred over the years - mostly disappointment.

    Here's probably my favorite coin, just stunning proof-like surfaces and rainbow toning.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
    RonSanderson likes this.
  19. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    1987lincolnPLrainbow.jpg 1987lincolnPLrainbow2.jpg 1987lincolnPLrainbowREV.jpg 1987lincolnPLrainbowREV2.jpg
    Indeed, it's a painful and laborious process but at the same time fun and rewarding. I've found the it's best to find a bank with a coin counting machine. They usually have 5000 ct bags which are a LOT easier to search. I've plucked out many beautiful and even rare coins searching bank lots.... like an MS-65 (NGC) 1999 WAM (sold $550). This is probably my favorite find from a bank lot - it's on my PCGS submission list, I think it could be a top-pop:
    MikeinWyo likes this.
  20. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    The gospel of modern coin collecting! 100% agree!

    I'm STILL looking for a better 1979D! A nearly impossible coin IMO. Out of THOUSANDS searched, this is all I have:

    1979Dlincoln.jpg 1979DlincolnREV.jpg
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  21. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    You have the right idea! I'm telling you (and everyone else) - putting together a high quality memorial set is EXTREMELY difficult. I could do a simple 65 and below set in a day or two....yes, there are billions. However, out of those billions less than 1% are good enough for me.
    gbandy likes this.
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