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Frequently Asked QuestionsHere are some of our most common questions and the answers to them:
How do I register to participate in this project?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, the county where you bank, and the name of the nearest decent size city (so I can figure out where you are) plus the NUMBER of $25 boxes worth of cents you think you can sort and write down BEFORE the project deadline of September 30, and I will get you registered and send you a reply. Thank you!
What is a "Box" of pennies?
The container itself doesn't matter at all - what a "box" refers to is a $25 grouping of pennies. That's how banks move them around, so it's just easier to account for bulk coins by the $25 lot, called a "box." Years ago coins came in "bags" containing 5,000 coins. When mentioning a "bag" of pennies collectors always knew you meant $50 face value. If you tell a non-collector to get a bag of pennies, they tend to understand that the coins HAVE to be inside a bag. Not the case at all.
Why sort so many pennies?
Science only works if you give a large enough sample for the numbers to do their thing. The more you put into the data the more information that can come from the data. Because there are close to 22 Billion cents in circulation, I decided that we needed as close as possible to a sample representing 1/100th of the total count of circulating pennies to have a viable result set. That's 220,000,000 coins. It's a lot, but very many fewer and we wouldn't have what we need to really tell what's out there in circulation.
What if I find pennies during my sort on which I either cannot read the date or mint mark?
You keep track of those coins in the "illegible" box, but you DO count them. Please do not totally skip anything. If it is a bus token or a foreign coin, you count it in the "foreign/other" area.
How do I "sort" the coins for this purpose?
For the purpose of this project, all the coins need to be sorted into individual piles by date and mint mark. You count the total of each pile once the sort is done, and annotate the total in a spreadsheet we provide, or on a piece of paper for safe keeping. At the end of the project period (or whenever you finish any of your boxes) you will be able to go to thecentproject.com and enter your data for review and inclusion into the database adding to the overall national total.Read our recommended method for sorting coins.
Where can I download a form to use in reporting the data of my sort back to you?
We don't require that any specific form be used for this project. You could write the results of your search on a paper towel. The important
part is that the form ON this website (coming at around the first of June) will be in about the same format
I downloaded the form, but don't understand why so many years have different mint marks. Explain?
The first thing to explain is that there were not ALWAYS cents minted at all three business strike mints every year (Philadelphia - P, Denver - D, San Francisco - S). There are a number of years for which there were no coins struck for commerce in San Francisco, and other years where there were no coins struck for commerce in Denver. In three years (1965, 1966, 1967) cents were struck at all of the mints, but because the government was tired of collectors hoarding the coins, they discontinued mint marks on the coins just in those years.
What about the pennies with no letter beneath the date? What are those?
ANY Lincoln cent minted with NO mint mark below the date is considered P-mint (Philadelphia). They didn't use mint marks on coins for a LONG time because Philadelphia was THE main mint and didn't need a mint mark to distinguish location. They did start using the P mint marks on coins above the cent in 1980, and for the special 225th anniversary of the U.S. Mint in 2017 they placed a P mint mark on Philadelphia minted cents ONLY for that year.
What if I finish what I had said I could do and still have more time to do more?
That's perfectly fine. Just send me an email and offer to do more. I am pretty sure you won't be refused.
What is that huge list of counties all about?
County borders were the easiest way to account for population, where population centers are, and who lives closest to the next population center for the purpose of grouping counties into regions. Asking what county you live in gives me the best idea of what region to place you into. The list of counties does NOT represent the ONLY counties from which I am seeking data. I will take data from ANYONE in the United States!
What if my county isn't listed in your big list of counties?
The list of counties only helps us determine which population areas are more dense, needing more volunteers. If you live outside one of these population centers, your count will go toward the numbers needed for the population center nearest you. You are STILL WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER.
My bank isn't selling boxes of coins because of COVID-19. How do I still participate?
Although we prefer sticking to the 'box' term as 2,500 pennies (50 rolls) you can obtain rolls in any quantity from anywhere in your area. It does NOT have to be a solid box of coins like you would get from a bank. It could be five rolls from the gas station, another 15 from the grocery store, or wherever you can get the coins. I just prefer that it total $25 in face value before reported, and the $25 face is reported as a "box." The IMPORTANT part of this is that they be coins purchased out of circulation. I wouldn't want you counting the 5 gallon jug your father had in his closet for 30 years. I'd like to BUY those, but I don't want them in a count of today's circulation.
What if I get a box and the whole thing is one date and mint mark?
Given that nearly 5% of all the circulating cents in any year is all new stock, it is reasonable that some of what we find WILL be all new coins. That's fine, just report that you got a whole box of one date and mint. We aren't TRYING to find anything but the truth of what is out there...whether that be brand new cents or old peso coins, we need to know!
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