The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 6, February 6, 2022, Article 19


In November we noted that the British tabloid The Sun has recently taken to republishing eBay sale results as articles with clickbait headlines - "Rare Lincoln Penny Sells for $thousands - do you have one?" In his Coin Collectors Blog recently, Scott Barman took a closer look at these articles. With permission, we're republishing his post here. -Editor

Lincoln Cent filled die error Exaggerated headlines are not new to journalism. Depending on whose depiction of history you read, it dates to the work of Joseph Pulitzer and New York World and William Randolph Hearst in the New York Journal. The battle between the two raged into the 1890s and earned the name of Yellow Journalism.

The tradition continues on the Internet. Instead of Yellow Journalism, it is called clickbait. In the old days, editors used the headlines to sell newspapers so readers could see the advertising. Today, the headline writers want you to click the links to display advertising. It is the same principles even though the medium is different.

Some people do not like overly dramatic headlines and avoid those links. But there is one set of numismatic-related stories whose headlines you should ignore.

The Sun is a UK-based tabloid newspaper owned by Ruppert Murdock. While the newspaper is known for yellow and tabloid journalism, the paper has well-written stories that are not sensational or salacious. With the power of the Internet, they brought The Sun to the U.S. using the same formula to get page impressions.

One of the story formulas The U.S. Sun uses to lure readers is to watch eBay coin auctions as a basis to write about different coins. Once they find something interesting, the articles produced are well written, informative, and readable to the average collector.

A good example is the PRETTY PENNY Rare Lincoln penny with wax filled die sells for $122 – see if you have one in your wallet is a headline that seems like clickbait. But if you read the article, it explains the issues with the filled die, looks at other research into the date and error and talks about what to look for when searching pocket change.

A journalist explained that these are formula stories. A formula story is written based on a publisher-defined style so that any writer can fill in the details and maintain standards. Writers who earn their pay by the story will create story formulas to publish as many stories as possible.

Given The U.S. Sun‘s ability to publish well-written stories about the coins they cover makes it an excellent educational read for all coin collectors regardless of knowledge level. Follow coinsblog on Twitter for when I find these stories.

In November I wrote that these clickbait articles are "not a bad way to get attention online, and probably something actual numismatic organizations should consider doing, only with better facts and links to appropriate related websites, as a way to reach out to potential collectors."

I had avoided clicking on most of these, but I'm glad Scott took a closer look. If they're generally getting the numismatic facts right, then more power to them. But I still wish major numismatic organizations and companies would follow suit. It was advice I've given in the past to the American Numismatic Association and U.S. Mint when asked - the best way to fight misinformation online is to flood the same channels with high quality content to educate the public and promote the hobby. Those articles from The Sun pop up constantly, but none of them drive people to respected numismatic websites and organizations.

Maybe one of our readers would like to try their hand at writing some quality articles for The Sun. Their web pages note: "We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The US Sun team? Email us at or call 212 416 4552."

Congratulations to Scott for his blog's recent milestone - it's reached the 10,000 subscriber mark. To sign up, see: -Editor

To read the complete articles, see:
Weekly World Numismatic News for January 23, 2022 (

To read some Sun articles, see:
PRETTY PENNY Rare Lincoln penny with wax filled die sells for $122 – see if you have one in your wallet (
COIN BATTLE Rare Jefferson nickel coin sells for $129 after bidding war – do you have one in your spare change? (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

DWN E-Sylum ad06 New Orleans Book 2020

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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