Today I am 63. My journey with coincollecting began in 1961, I was 6 1/2 (the half was very important!); I was living in San Diego, just having moved from Key West Florida. I had discovered a box of pennies that my parents kept for when they played Pinochle. As I looked through the box I saw pennies from the 20’s and 30’s. As I looked at the pennies more I noticed most of them didn’t have anything below the date, but some had D’s And S’s. I asked my mom what they meant, she wasn’t certain.
A few weeks later I was in Woolworths and there was a section that sold coins. I had one of the pennies with an D under the date. I showed it to the man behind the counter and asked what the D was. He began to tell me all about the various mints, and how to identify them by the various letters. The penny I was holding was a 1912 D, the D represented Denver. I was so amazed that just looking at the coin, someone could tell me where the penny was made. Next the man showed me a blue Whitman folder, inside there were numerous holes with dates and mint marks for each hole. He showed me exactly where the penny I had would be placed. I was hooked! I ran home and immediately asked my mom for 48 cents to buy the Blue Whitman folder; she gave me the typical mom response “We’ll see”. I would not let it go. Finally, after weeks of pleading she finally relented and took me to Woolworth’s to buy my blue Whitman’s 1909 -1940 penny album.
The car was barely parked before I bolted out and was heading for the penny box. As I picked out each coin, I looked at the date and associated mint mark looking for the empty hole that would soon be filled. Within an hour, I had gone through the entire box and only filled about 20 of the empty holes. There were plenty of 30’s and 40’s, a few 20’s, but the coins in the Teens and earlier were mostly missing. Next, I asked my parents to empty their pockets of change - nothing! I was on a quest - at 6 1/2, I had a quest. Nothing was going to stop me from filling that album.
Whenever anyone new entered our house, I pounce on them asking to look through their change. Occasionally, I’d get lucky and fill a hole, but for the most part, filling the album was becoming very daunting. On one of my trips to Woolworth’s I noticed another Whitman penny album, 1941 -. Returning back home I revisited the penny stash; to my amazement a lot of the pennies in the stash were contained in that album. The pleading again began with my mom; this time conditions came with the purchase. Three weeks later after numerous chores and added responsibilities, I was the proud owner of my second Whitman Lincoln folder.
Again, I attacked the penny stash, this time though, I was much more successful! There were plenty of 40’s and 50’s coins, so much so that I was able to fill most of the album. The only glaring hole I had was the 1943’s. Those coins from 1943 eluded me; not a single one showed up anywhere I looked.
Next Week: My first Red Book