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'Time Capsule' Cent Roll


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'Time Capsule' Cent Roll


Mike Sherman - June 21, 2010



Have you ever fantasized about going back in time, and grabbing a random roll of coins and just looking through it to see what it contained? Well, such an opportunity presented itself recently when my brother called me to relate a recent experience.


He's in the vintage automobile business, and while buying a collection in Topeka, Kansas, he ran across a 1928 Model A Ford Hot Rod that had been parked in a barn in 1954 by its owner (who drove it in high school) and has been untouched until now. As they were going through the car, they found a full roll of pennies under the front seat.


Opening it and examining it revealed the contents of a typical roll of pennies from 56 years ago. The oldest coin was a 1915, then 39 years old. So the equivalent "find" today might be a 1971-D. 11 of the coins were close to new (1952 or 1953) and the scarcest of the bunch was a 1922-D. Even though only about VG, it's worth about $15.00 today. Surprisingly, it listed for 75¢ in the 1954 Redbook in Fine, so even then, it would have been a decent find. Being in the midwest, all three mints were well represented, although later-date "D" mints predominate.


While relating this story to an older friend of mine, he immediately turned to me and said: "Well, you know why there was a roll of pennies under the seat, don't you?" I did not. He smiled and told me that street racers back then often kept a roll of pennies under the seat in the event of a "dispute." Seems a roll of coins in a clenched fist makes for a very powerful punch, and served as a very handy thing to have in the event of a fight.


Whether this old roll ever saw any action is unknown. The owner passed away recently. But it serves today as a wonderful "time capsule" of what was circulating in the cash registers and pockets in the mid-1950s. Below is a complete list of the Lincoln cents in the roll. No Indian heads were found, although I've heard a few very worn ones still circulated then.


1 1915

1 1919-S

1 1919-D

1 1920

1 1922-D

1 1928-D

1 1929-D

1 1935

1 1936

3 1940

1 1941

1 1942

1 1942-D

2 1943

2 1944-S

1 1944-D

2 1945

1 1945-S

1 1945-D

2 1946-S

1 1947-S

1 1947-D

2 1948-S

1 1949

1 1949-S

2 1950-D

1 1951

2 1951-S

2 1951-D

6 1952-D

5 1953-D

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