Loads of Lincoln

I have already discussed rubber bands and paper clips, and, as promised, I would like to discuss something else you probably have on your desk top, mixed in with odd stamps, a safety pin or two, and that Carter/Mondale button you picked up off the street and plan to try to sell on eBay someday. I would like to speak of pennies.

Pennies come in regularly in book boxes. I’ve never quite figured out why: no one I know carries pennies in shirt pockets from which they might slip free. That is one of the mysteries of life, and I will neither question it nor interfere with it. As mentioned in a previous blog, I like pennies, and an unsolicited one always brightens my day. Maybe free money does that for you, too.

At other times, however, the unannounced pennies come from another source, and that is the desk I mentioned earlier. Somebody was cleaning off Uncle Melville’s desk, and besides the thesaurus and the reference guide to Windows 3.11, they tossed in that little box he always put his pennies in. Quite often, it isn’t just pennies, but a few nickels, a half dozen state quarters, and a wooden nickel from a street carnival in Zap, South Dakota in 1953. Uncle Melville was never in Zap, and could never recall where he picked this up, but he was used to having it on the desk. It went into the book box with everything else.

I have no objection to this. We at the Book fair accept coin collections, stamp collections, and other similar compact accumulations. (I’m still deciding what to do with the massive set of Pokemon cards.) This is the kind of thing I try to unload on eBay, myself: a good stamp album or Whitman Mercury Dime book has too many loose pieces that could accidentally fall free while a customer looks at it. This can be distracting and embarrassing, particularly if the pieces fall unobserved into the customer’s pocket or even billfold. Much nicer to do it all in cyberspace.

The coin collection makes me less melancholy than the box of spare change from the desk. How much in the way of liquid assets is waiting around in dusty piles or ashtrays in the shape of Minnesota? And how many little bits of unrealized “I’ll do something with this later” can one Book Fair manager stand? An estate I worked with lately included coin collections of some value (which didn’t come to the Book Fair) but also, in trays and boxes and one large bank, the spare change cleaned out of the purse of the lady of the house. When added up, that part came to nearly $260 (which didn’t come to the Book fair either.)

What I WAS given was something accumulated in the same way. I do believe I have a similar stack, and I bet most of the blog readers have as well. And I think I can help you out with this. Now, I will be glad to accept these as donations to the Book Fair: always. But there are more creative possibilities.

Why don’t we all pick a place and a day to get together? Each of us can bring those bags or trays or boxes with the Canadian pennies, nickels, dimes, etc. that we’ve been setting aside all these years. We’ll dump them into a special counting machine imported from north of the border, and we’ll each put our name in an old beaverskin hat. Winner takes the whole kaboodle to Canada and spends it. The money goes back into circulation, you get a salmon dinner, and the rest of us have more room on our desks for rubber bands, paper clips, and Book Fair bookmarks.

Think it over. And if, while you do so, someone offers a penny for your thoughts, be sure to say, “Make mine Canadian!”

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