The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 15, April 13, 2008, Article 17


[Dick Johnson writes: "I came across an article on the
inventor of Cent Sorter.  I found this a charming story,
and I interviewed the inventor for more than an hour and
wrote the story below."

It is an interesting story - I doubt I would have come up
with such an efficient solution to the problem.  Thanks,
Dick!  -Editor]

There is a 39-year old coin collector in Kalamazoo Michigan
who thought there must be a better way to sort copper cents
from copper-coated zinc cents, to separate those dated 1982
and before from those dated 1982 and after made of a
different composition.

He did just that. He invented a machine to sort cents with
extreme accuracy and do this at the rate of 18,000 an hour!

By reading the tiny figures in the dates?  No.

By detecting the slight difference in weight? No.

By the different surface characteristics? No.

The answer was so simple it was pure inspiration, and
his new invention was born.  He found the answer in modern
metal detectors. They can detect pre 1982 dates from later
cents while still under ground. "Why then, can't they do
this in a machine rapidly?" he thought.

"Are you the inventor of this machine?" I asked of Andrew
Redlon who operates as Ryedale Coin of Kalamazoo. "Yes, but"
and he went on to explain he was more of an adaptor. He
took a "discriminator" from a metal detector and applied
it to an integrated component. His real invention, he claims,
was the feeding mechanism. He put all three together in a
machine he designed.

His two degrees in CAD CAM design, earned as a heating
and cooling technician, aided him immensely. While he
is an amateur machinist he had friends in a tool shop
make some of the prototype parts. He got the idea in
January 2006. By fall 2006 he had a workable machine,
his own Coin Sorter and it worked exactly as he planned!

Not only does it sort the two different cents into two
hoppers, it can do this at an amazing speed of 300 coins
a minute, 18,000 an hour!  What's more, it can be easily
altered to sort out different coins. For example it can
sort Canadian nickels, the pure nickel from the later
compositions which still circulate side-by-side. This is
done by changing the "reference coin" (also called the
"standard") by which all coins fed into the machine are

Having invented the better mousetrap, customers for his
machine have come in droves. He builds his own machines
and has modified his machine three times. He now has four
different models and already has sold hundreds. But instead
of building more machines he would much rather sort his own
coins. He has, he admits, a ton of pre 1982 cents.

Astounded, I asked "How big is a ton of cents?"  "It would
fill a 55-gallon drum," he states, "two foot wide by 40
inches tall. About the size of a small end table."  Many of
the people who have his machine have this many, even several
tons, he relates.

His customers include a lot of professional men, people
who are hedging on the rise in copper value. They had
learned that copper cents are the least costly form to
acquire and hold copper.  It cost about three-tenths of
a cent to sort out copper cents.

Andy is full of statistics. An average $25 box of cents
will yield 8 to 12 wheat cents. A $50 bag double that.
Even at four-tenths of one percent it is cost effective
to sort cents on his machine. It differs, he adds, by region.
Areas of active economy, like the Southwest, have more recent
cents in circulation. Areas with a stagnant economy have
much higher percentage. "Here in Michigan it can be as high
as seven times the national average." Older coins continue
to circulate.

How soon will we run out? I asked. "Well since 1959," he
states "270 billion cents have been issued. It would take
1,000 of my machines running 24 hours a day 2 1/2 years to
sort that many."

"How do you separate the Wheaties (pre 1959 coins) from
those dated before 1982?"  "Easy," he said, "change the
reference coin and run them through the machine again."

Andy credits his grandparents with his interest in coins. He
saw their cent collection when visiting and they allowed him
to play with the pennies as a youth. The handful they gave
him initiated his collecting interest. And this led to his
invention of the Coin Sorter.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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