Everybody has a story as to how they got involved in coin collecting.
Here’s a brief story of my first coin and how I began my long and enjoyable journey into coin collecting…
The 1941 Lincoln Wheat Penny
It was October 1992.
Mom had been giving me some small change as spending money in exchange for little tasks and chores I was doing around the house.
One night, she handed me something like a dollar in change. Some quarters, nickels, I think a dime, and then some pennies.
One penny stuck out to me.
I was holding a 1941 Lincoln wheat cent, and it was the oldest coin I had ever recalled seeing in my own hands.
I was 11 years old.
Was I Rich?
One of the first thoughts that ran through my little head was, ‘How rich am I now?!’
I called out to Mom, telling her what I had found.
She seemed quite impressed. I thought the coin I was holding was worthy of placement in a museum.
The coin is 40 years older than I. I was already aware enough of history to realize it dated back to the beginnings of World War II and was made back when my grandparents were much younger… and before any of my aunts or uncles were alive.
Surely, the coin had to be rare and valuable, right?
Well, the next day, I opened the Yellow pages (remember, this was before the days of going online to look things up) and started calling local coin dealers. I was excited about my find and wanted to know just how many thousands of dollars my worn 1941 penny was worth.
As you’d guess, within three phone calls, I’d confirmed my coin wasn’t worth thousands of dollars, but — rather — about 5 to 10 cents.
Coin Collecting Added A New Member To Its Ranks
But I wasn’t crushed at all. In fact, it was too late. Coins had already hooked me. The history behind that old coin intrigued me.
I wanted more of these old pennies.
I begun searching through all the change in Mom’s purse and and the countless pennies in Dad’s change bucket.
I wound up finding a 1950s wheat penny — in Dad’s hoard of pocket change.
I found a 1946 penny a couple weeks later — in Mom’s purse change she received at the post office.
By Thanksgiving, Mom took me to a local bookstore and picked me up a copy of a coin price guide, complete with mintage figures, so I could learn more about the value of wheat pennies and also about buying and selling old coins.
I absorbed all I could about coins from that first book and the many other coin books and magazines I would in short order add to my personal library.
My coin collection, also, continued to grow.
Over the years, I have bought, sold, and traded many coins…
…But I still have and always will keep that fateful 1941 penny that unlocked the door to a hobby I will surely enjoy for a lifetime.
Here’s my story about the joys of being a penny collector.
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!