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A Brand New Day

Welcome to "The Cent Project 2020!" If you are reading this you have been asked to give a couple of hours of your time to sort and count circulating Lincoln cents and return your results to someone. Here are the steps involved in doing this:

  • zRead ALL the instructions on this website to get specific instructions on how to turn in your results before you start!
  • Obtain as many rolls of cents from your local source as you intend on sorting and reporting. Whether it be a bank, credit union, grocery story or otherwise is up to you, your ONLY rule is that it be coins that were about to be placed into circulation - not someone's closet jar they've had for 20 years.
  • Use the sorting directions on this website to learn of a good, quick way to sort your coins. Not necessary, just a good, tested method that makes less of a mess and is quicker for many people.
  • We have provided a specific form and format you should use in counting the results of your sort. It's located here.


You have found "the Cent Project," an all-volunteer project coordinated to find out what we have in our change. This project is directed by Lincoln cent specialist Charles D. Daughtrey. You may contact Chuck to volunteer or with any questions you may have about this site or the project itself at cd@coppercoins.com.

Purpose of thecentproject.com

The purpose of this site is to report news and events of this project to the volunteers, to update volunteers on how the project is progressing (while it is still open), to educate the volunteers in how to sort their sample and detect the difference between large and small date cents (where applicable), and to permanently publish the results of this study for all to see. This site is newly updated as of 07/12/2020, so bear with me as I build and update it to meet the needs and expectations of all involved.

The need for super-helpers:

It takes thousands and thousands of people to sort as many Lincoln cents as necessary for this project by date, mint, and date size and combine results on a nationwide scale. Because I cannot possibly keep meaningful communication with that many people, this project will have to have the assistance of a number of super helpers who will be able to answer questions and serve as an immediate point of contact for volunteers during the sort. If you would like to be one such super helper, please let me know.

The purpose/objective of the project:

For years now we have known that there are two different date sizes for a number of different issues of cents, but because the Mint did not keep mintage figures by date size, we have always published "incl. above" as the mintage for each different variety. For years now we have known that cents minted during the first few years of the zinc planchets were of poor quality and have 'probably' suffered greatly in numbers due to corrosion, other environmental factors, and basic attrition. Also for years now speculators have been pulling the older alloy cents out of circulation believing they will some day profit from the copper content of the coins. The purpose of this experiment is to find approximate mintages for the different date sizes of cents, to see the actual attrition of the copper memorial cents and see if their numbers are truly dwindling beyond expectation, and to measure whether any of the early zinc issues have suffered enough to become considered 'scarce' in circulation. It would also help determine how changing to zinc has affected the life expectancy of the cent, and might prove that even though copper-based cents are much more expensive to make, the difference in life expectancy would make copper-based cents more cost worthy financially than zinc cents. This could be used as supporting evidence to convince the Mint to change back to a copper based planchet if they indeed intend to even continue the cent. Of course it could also prove their decision to change to zinc to be the correct decision.

Requirements of volunteers:

Each volunteer will be given the information necessary to accurately sort $25 "boxes" (bundles, groups) in face value (2,500 coins) of cents obtained from their local coin roll hunting sources (banks, credit unions, stores). The coins need only be in their posession long enough to complete their sorting and data gathering, and to be sure count duplication does not happen. If by any chance or reason the volunteer was unable to separate any of the varieties by date size or metal content (1982), they can skip that part of the sort and do a simple date and mint sort.

Data control:

It is a fact that with more participation in any data collecting experiment the more data that is collected, the more accurate the results. This is why it is important that this project receive all the nationwide attention it can. The more people volunteer to help with the project, the more accurate the results will be. Control is set up in the following manner:
  1. State by state representation of samples sorted using county area population as a key. This ensures an even distribution of samples by population density, which presumably matches circulation density of coins.
  2. That all samples come from a like source. I will instruct all volunteers to purchase their samples to count directly from sources dealing in circulating coins. This alleviates the possibility that someone might grab a sample that has been sitting in a closet for twenty years and skew the results.
  3. That the same education be provided in how to efficiently sort the coins and how to recognize the differences by variety requested be separated in the data. This information would be published on the web in one specific location and every volunteer would be given access to this information. For those without internet access, the information would be printed and mailed to them.
  4. That every volunteer be provided a form to use in recording their data. The form would be available electronically for those who could receive such media, and for others it would be printed and shipped to them with the educational tools mentioned in #3 above.

Project Timeline:

The timeline for a project of this magnitude will be determined in large part by how many volunteers we can get and how quickly we get those volunteers. Optimally, we would like to have enough volunteers to make the project worthwhile by the end of 2020, and would like for all of the volunteers to be finished gathering and reporting their data by the end of August, 2021. This time line may have to be adjusted while we wait for additional volunteers to come forward.

Information Dissemination:

Once the data is gathered, combined, and examined, I would like to publish the results and give all specialists a chance to comment on the results; then publish the results with all comments in as many publications as possible. Given an approximate number of cents believed to be in circulation and the exact mintage figures published by the authorities, the data will be combined to represent both a percentage of actual mintage left in circulation and a percentage of all circulating cents. The results of the combined data will be calculated using simple formulae to derive relatively accurate results regarding attrition, surviving examples, and possible original mintage figures that were never recorded.

© Copyright 2020, Charles D. Daughtrey - all rights reserved. Any information contained in this website is reproducable without prior consent with the sole restriction that its author, Charles D. Daughtrey be credited for the information used.