The other day my 8 year old son and I went to the hardware store together.... (Alright, I dragged him along... My dad used to do it to me when I was young too. Something about male bonding with your dad that took root with me!)
Anyway, as I went to pay, I noticed my son had started to look at the penny cup at the register.
You know the one, where people drop their change to help out someone else who is short a penny.
My son turns to me and announces, "Dad, I found a wheat stalk penny!"
"Oh," I inquire absentmindedly, "what year is it?"
"I think it says 19-69," he says hesitantly, "or maybe it's 19 -oh- 9..."
I'm sure that he must be misreading the date, because wheat stalk pennies were started in 1909 but ended in 1957. So I take the penny from him, and sure enough, it reads 1909! "Holy smokes! It's a rare one, " I exclaim! My son wants to know if it's worth a lot of money. "Keep this up, kid, and you just might pay for your college education," I kid him, but it's lost on him... he thinks I'm serious.
As it turns out, someone must have left the most rare penny atop the change up for the clerk, who also collects pennies. Somebody must have been setting him up with a very rare penny that stood out from all the untarnished new ones in the cup.
I mentioned this to my boss, who immediately asks if it has the designer initials on it..."VDB". Apparently, the original issue was worth a lot more if imprinted with his initials. Who knew?
As it was, our find was only worth what a dealer would sell it to me for... but it has made an indelible impression upon our family. Now, at every opportunity, we check our coins for something old and rare. The coins seem to run in streaks, when someone cleans out an old penny jar or grandpa's desk, but when you find one, there are more nearby.
Where do YOU find rare coins?