Salt the Mine

Okay, here’s my entry into the coinology marketing field:


It’s a packet, pouch, box or clear bag with a bunch of ordinary wheaties pennies — a carefully calculated mix of teens, twenties and thirties Lincoln Wheat cents.

Please note that I have avoided the nicer-looking but generally worthless later Lincoln cents, the forties and fifties. You can buy them by the shovelful in mint condition for very little, so why muck about looking for and through them for the coins you really want?

My thought is that the price would be slightly different for a bag of 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s pennies, but like a crackerjack box, each bag is GUARANTEED to contain at least one, and sometimes two or three, PREMIUM COINS.

What is a Premium Coin? It’s a mint-mark or a higher grade than G-4, which differs decade by decade — the older the coin, the longer it’s been around to take abuse, hence the older coins will tend to be more worn down and flatter than the more recent issues, but there are exceptions, which makes the coin hunting even more of a chase.

So every pouch of “1910’s” or “1920’s” or “1930’s” Lincoln cents will have about a dozen ordinary G-4 dates, no mint-marks, PLUS at least one coin with mint-mark, and/or one “better grade” premium coin, possibly two, depending on random acts of semi quasi pseudo-randomity.

You’ll note that I use the apostrophe in the decade designations given above — I assure you that it makes me wince, but I do it, not because public pressure or common usage demands it, although it certainly does, but because I want to avoid confusion with the dates that indicate that the coin was minted in San Francisco.

In short, I didn’t want “1920’s” to be confused with “1920-s” or “1920s” or any other combination of numbers and letters. My usage of “1920’s” is meant to indicate that the coins contained therein will be all possible dates and mint-marks encapsulated within the framework of the years 1920 through 1929.

This is an important idea, the separation of U.S. coins into decades, and it really can help you to understand how the grading generally goes, decade to decade and year to year — for instance, a 1929 coin will, in general, look a lot better and be a higher grade of wheat ears, than a coin minted and circulated back in 1920.

So I’m busy tonight, sorting coins year by year and decade by decade, to provide a background basis for the Premium coins, which I’m turning up as I search.

My method is to take any and all mint-marks and any and all grade, meaning even the slightest vestige of quality above the level of, let’s say, G-6, not even VG, if you please.

The reason is not that we’re being cheap, here — we don’t want ANY confusion about which coin is the Premium coin.

Of course, the MYSTERY COIN reduces the price and possibly the skill level needed, so let’s look at that idea right now, while we’re thinking of it.


What you get is what you can’t see — a coin that is obscured from view, that you don’t know about until you open the package, which you can’t do until you BUY the package for $1.

Each package contains a genuine Lincoln “Wheaties” Cent from 1909-1939, which will definitely be a Premium Coin of an unspecified type and value, the value of the prizes running anywhere from 15 cents, all the way up to as much as $20 for a single high level premium date, mint-mark or grade.

For example, even a low-grade 1924-D in G-4 goes for $24, and a 1915-s will be valued at around the same price.

If your MYSTERY COIN turns out to be a MINT ERROR, that could be very rewarding in many ways.

Your MYSTERY COIN comes to you in a flip, which carries on it the information about your Premium MYSTERY Coin, plus a price tag indicating its present retail “Red Book” value as given in the MEGA RED book issued in 2017, which has the best photos of the Lincoln cents — they’ve by and large been taken out of the latest edition, to make room for a photo exposition of nickels.

Why pennies and not nickels or dimes or quarters or halves or dollars?

Because all those are very much more expensive to search and collect, that’s why. There are a LOT more opportunities to Strike It Rich with the Lincoln Cent than any other inexpensive coin, and the Wheaties offer the most chances for the beginner coin hunter.

I think the PRIZE concept is the best for marketing simplicity. It doesn’t require any coin hunting skills at all — just the ability to read the label and price tag on the flip.

By the way, I do buy those coins back, at half the market price, to allow a markup and profit.

The reason I’m telling you this is by way of encouraging you to “go thou and do likewise”.

Using my simple wheaties marketing kit, you can easily skill yourself up to the level where you can derive prize coins from chaff coins, package them neatly, and sell them to the millions, who may perhaps buy them by the dozens.

In short, it has a very limited market, just among bright folks with a sense of adventure. Good luck locating any of those — they’re in short supply in this particular universe.

GORBY’S TEN-DOLLAR BAG — For a lousy ten bucks you get a bagful of coins to search, within which there is guaranteed to be three (3) PREMIUM COINS guaranteed to have a street value of … “more than you paid”, probably around $20 for all three. The rest of the coins form the base for your searches.

GORBY’S “TEENS ONLY” TEN-DOLLAR BAG — This is a bagful of teens, Lincoln Wheaties ranging anywhere from 1909 to 1919, with most of them being of the later variety. Amongst the junk coins you will find one (1) coin valued at “more than you paid”, probably around $20.

GORBY’S “ROARING TWENTIES” TEN-DOLLAR BAG — You get a bagful of beauties, pennies that can remember jazz, bobby-soxers and the cat’s meow, and you have a chance to do the Vegan Mind-Meld with them as they pass through your fingertips. In among all those horridly ordinary and so bourgeois common pennies, you’ll discover, if you are able and agile-minded, a beautiful prize, one (1) coin that is absolutely guaranteed to be worth “more than you paid”, but probably around $20.

GORBY’S PRE-FORTIES MIX TEN-DOLLAR BAG — In this bag, you get a bunch of crummy coins, more than you get in the teens and twenties bags, but it’s all totally garbage, garbage, garbage, with the singular exception of your prize, a pretty little coin that is guaranteed to be worth “more than you paid”, which might be as much as $20 or even a zinky bit more, who knows?

How I work this is, I take the next Premium coin that shows up in the search, and that’s what you get.

Like the turn of a card, it could be literally anything.

In the course of just a few hours search this morning to help me “thought experiment” my way through the ins-and-outs of this coin search practice, I’ve found a 1914d, and a number of very very nice high-grade 1924d and 1925d pennies.

In the thirties coins, you get just about nothing — there’s nothing there to get, except that elusive 1931s, which I haven’t found yet in this particular bag, but I have three more folks waiting for their bags to process.

What I’m doing is putting these bags into the booths of the participants, unless you want me to ship YOU the stuff in Gorby’s Penny Prospector form, and YOU do the selling — I’m having so much fun selling these things, I don’t know how you could resist.

It’s like “selling a chance” ticket when you sell one of the “unknown” mystery coins — you can’t see what the coin is, so it could be anything, and in fact, it can be a coin worth 15 cents or as much as $20.

I think for fund-raising it could really work. I’d like to charge only $1 for the Mystery Penny, but it costs about that to package it up — still, it sounds great to ask, “Would you like to buy a chance on an instant win for charity?”

There’s more to that, if you really want to raise money for a charity, including specific instructions on what you’re allowed to say, and so forth, but you get the general idea.

Sure, it’s a gamble, but people love mystery and the chance to win something they can understand. In this case, they get a coin in a flip, fully identified, carrying a price tag with the official Red Book or Grey Sheet price.

Realize that they can sell that coin to a dealer, and if they know their grades and how to deal with a coin shark, they can realize a cash profit right then and there, although I hope that’s not their motivation.

I’m hoping they want to support our craft teaching project here at the gallery.

See You At The Top!!!