The musings of a former office worker stuck in his house applying for jobs, when he would rather be out on the water.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wheat Pennies

One of my many hobbies is collecting wheat pennies. For those of you who are scratching your head, this is a wheat penny:

Wheat pennies were the origianl penny. The cool penny. The retro penny. And they were in circulation until 1958. Some pennies are worth next to nothing, only $.03. Some are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But they are all collectible, small, and waiting to be found.

I collect them. This obsessive collecting began when I worked the worst job I have ever had. I worked at CVS. On the overnight. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. One of the bright spots of this 9 hour, dead as a graveyard shift, was the discovery of wheat pennies.

Wheat pennies are fairly common collectible coins, you probably get one or two a year in change. But when you are a like me, and have access to roll after roll of pennies, you start to hunt for them. Obsessively. I began to examine my rolls of pennies, looking for signs of oxidation that would indicate a higher probability of a wheat penny in the roll. And the wheat pennies started rolling in.

And I mean rolling. By the time I moved to day shift, after 6 months overnight, I probably had close to 150 wheat pennies. More wheat pennies than most people will see in their entire lives.  The day shift presented new opportunities. Every register was open, meaning instead of a possible six rolls of pennies, there were more like 18 rolls to be examined. And since people like me at work, they all looked for pennies for me.

Even when I wasn't there.

My collection now looks something like this:

It's huge. 350 strong and growing every week. I have wheat pennies everywhere. In my wallet. I have a couple on a picture frame at work for good luck. I've gone as far back as 1913. My good luck work penny is a pretty worn 1919. I'm obsessed. But it isn't enough. It never will be. I still obsessively check my penny rolls to see if they have oxidated pennies in them. I can guess about 70% of the time if a roll has a wheat in it. Often i can get 2 or 3 wheats in one go. My best shift nailed me 6 wheat pennies and a buffalo nickel.

I don't really have a moral here, or a point. Except this. If you want to mail me some wheat pennies you've found, my email address is And if you want to start collecting them yourself? Good luck stopping once you start. It's more addicting than you might think.

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