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This $420 penny could be heavenly


The name of the designer of the Lincoln penny was reported incorrectly Saturday in an article about this week's American Numismatics Association convention in Baltimore. The designer was Victor David Brenner.

The Sun regrets the errors.

When is a penny worth more than one cent, or worth anything at all these days?

In Baltimore the answer is: When it was minted in San Francisco in 1909, has an "S" below the date beside Lincoln's profile and the initials V.D.B. between the wheat stalks on the back.

Then it's worth 420 bucks, smackeroos, mazuma, whatever.

The American Numismatic Association dropped one of the rare coins into circulation at a Towson McDonald's yesterday. The person who finds it in his pocket change -- or one like it -- can redeem it for the $420 market value by 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, at the group's 102nd annual get-together at the Convention Center.

The gimmick is the ANA's way of trying to turn people on to coin collecting -- to let them know that there are desirable, collectible coins in general circulation, said Stephen L. Bobbitt, the association's spokesman.

Famed among collectors as the "1909-S V.D.B. penny," the ANA's coin is the rarest of the Lincoln coppers, with fewer than 500,000 minted.

Meanwhile, United States Mint officials yesterday put four other rare Lincoln pennies into circulation, two each in Philadelphia and Washington. Issued in 1914 from the Denver mint, the pennies can be identified by the letter "D" below the date and are worth from $91 to $170 each.

"For collectors it's a dream come true, the idea of finding such a rare coin in their change," Mr. Bobbitt said.

The ANA first put rare coins into circulation at its 1990 convention in Seattle, then again in Chicago and last year in Orlando. "So far, no one's turned them in," Mr. Bobbitt said. "They're either in a collection somewhere or in someone's penny jar."

The convention, called The World's Fair of Money, will open at noon Wednesday and continue through Sunday at the Convention Center. More than 1,000 dealers and representatives of 23 national mints will be on hand to cater to an expected crowd of 12,000 to 18,000.

ANA estimated that more than $1 billion in rare coins, paper money, tokens and medals -- which make up the field of numismatics -- will be on hand during the week, for buying, selling, trading or display.

Admission is free and beginning Tuesday, information on the

show will be available at 410-234-1525.

Of particular interest, Mr. Bobbitt said, will be the Olympic commemorative coins which will be offered by the Norwegian Mint in honor of next year's winter games at Lillehammer.

zTC Of interest to Americans will the "Billion Dollar Exhibit" from the federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which features an uncut sheet of thirty-two $100,000 bills -- the largest denomination ever printed.

There will be one, and sometimes two coin auctions each day, as well as drawings for gold and silver coins.

By the way, the V.D.B. on the 1909 penny stands for Vernon David Brennan, who designed the Lincoln cent. And if you didn't already know, President Woodrow Wilson is pictured on the $100,000 bill. But but you probably won't find one of those in your loose change.

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