What Is a Penny Worth to You?

By Patricia L Johnson

My husband is a ‘collector’, he collects anything and everything, books, trading cards, coins, fishing equipment, metals, etc. Some people would call him a “pack rat” and that might be a truer definition because when I think of a ‘collector’ I think of someone investing in a particular item and making money on it. Seems we haven’t quite learned that trick yet as our transactions usually end up with a loss.

For the past decade we have been members of eBay and while my husband is excellent at purchasing, we’re not real good at selling because it’s difficult for him to get me motivated enough to post anything on a regular basis.

An exception took place this weekend when I decided to bite the bullet and get some of the clutter off my computer desk so I posted 13 items to sell. Trying to figure out what to start the bidding at has always been a problem for me so I have a new system. I generally start things out with a minimum bid of .99 unless I know the actual value of the item.

One of the items I posted was a 1914 D Wheat Penny, which I started out at .99 so you can imagine my shock when this particular penny had been bid up to $81.00 within four hours of posting. As a general rule the majority of bids on eBay don’t come until the end of the auction because folks don’t want to keep outbidding one another, raising their cost.

The fact there were seven different bids on this one item made me wonder if the bidders had a few screws loose, so I decided to spend some time checking out the item. As it turned out a 1914 D Penny, in the worst possible condition, has a minimum value of a couple hundred bucks.

The reason the 1914 D Wheat Penny is so valuable is due to the fact there were only 1.2 million of these coins minted in Denver, compared to 75 million minted in Philadelphia.

As I was researching this particular item I saw a warning indicating that many of these 1914 D Wheat pennies were actually 1944 pennies that had been altered to read 1914. That being the case I asked my husband to look at the penny again to make sure it had not been altered. He looked at it, I looked at it and we finally got the magnifying glass out and both looked at it. It looked okay to us.

Shortly thereafter I received an e-mail from an eBay member, who was also a coin dealer advising me that in his opinion the coin we had up for auction had been altered. I appreciated his comments, but couldn’t figure out what he was talking about because he wasn’t making any sense. The faults he listed were not apparent on the coin my husband had given me, so I sent an inquiry back to the coin dealer.

His reply was the coin was altered, again not giving me the reason why he felt that way.

I’ve found that the third time around is usually a charm and my third communication with this gentleman was no exception. His third reply spelled it all out in detail and following is one of his comments:

“All 1914 “D” coins had the “D” lower than the bottom of the #9.”

Everyone knows that right?

I spent so much time researching coins over the weekend that I am now truly hooked. How someone would even think to try to alter a 1944 coin to read 1914 is beyond my comprehension, but what is more fascinating to me is how they actually go about changing the coin. Seems they would have to have fairly sophisticated equipment.

It appears fraud is apparently running rampant in our country and is definitely not limited to the less than fortunate members of society.

© 2013 Patricia L Johnson

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