PCGS has authenticated as genuine and also graded Mint State 63 an experimental 1974-D Lincoln cent in aluminum the was as soon as owned by a former assistant superintendent that the Denver Mint.

Images courtesy of skilled Coin Grading Service.

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The 1974-D aluminum cent encapsulated by PCGS is the very first such speculative piece indigenous the Denver Mint certified by any type of third-party grading service.

Image courtesy that PCGS.


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Michael McConnell, left, is the California dealer to whom Randy Lawrence, right, marketed the 1974-D aluminum cent in September 2013. The two have actually jointly consigned the speculative piece to Heritage Auctions’ April sale to be organized in conjunction v the main States Numismatic culture Convention in Schaumburg, Ill.

Images courtesy of Michael McConnell.


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The Toven 1974 aluminum cent, the only instance known in private hands, was initially certified in 2005 through ICG together AU-58 and, 2 months later, recertified by PCGS together MS-62.

Images courtesy of elevation Coin Grading.


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Denver Mint dice setter Benito Martinez evidenced to Coin human being his duty in developing at the basic 1974-D Lincoln experimental cents on aluminum blanks supplied by the Philadelphia Mint.

Image cropped indigenous 1982 picture courtesy the Michael Lantz.


an instance of one aluminum 1974-D Lincoln experimental cent — not documented in U.S. Mint records to exist, however once own by a previous Denver Mint assistant superintendent — has been authenticated and also graded by expert Coin Grading service as Mint State 63.
The experimental piece has been consigned to Heritage Auctions’ April 23 come 27 revenue jointly by the boy of the previous Denver Mint executive and the California dealer to whom the son sold the coin prior to its true value was determined.
Randy Lawrence is the child of the so late Harry Edmond Lawrence. After ~ some twenty years in the Denver Mint facility, predominantly in the assistant superintendent’s position, H.E. Lawrence retired as assistant superintendent in 1980. He died the exact same year.
Michael McConnell, a coin dealer in La Jolla, Calif., to buy the 1974-D aluminum cent from Randy Lawrence together with some various other coins his father had owned, in September 2013.
heritage Auctions officials worth the 1974-D aluminum cent in the community of $250,000, according to Todd Imhof, Heritage’s executive vice president.
Imhof claimed Heritage was noted legal advice the the aluminum cent is legal come own and also as such, deserve to be offered at auction.
The coin was scheduled to it is in publicly shown Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at the long Beach Coin, Currency, stamp & sporting activities Collectible present in long Beach, Calif.
while a search of U.S. Mint records by Mint officials offers no documentary proof that any type of such speculative cents in aluminum to be struck at the Denver Mint in 1974, Coin civilization was able to locate and interview the Denver Mint manufacturing employee who struck the experimental 1974-D Lincoln cent one at a time ~ above aluminum planchets.
Coin civilization was already conducting research study in preparation for posting an short article during the 40th anniversary year of the manufacturing of the 1974 aluminum cents when the announcement was make of the shown existence of a 1974-D win in aluminum.
The U.S. Mint is known to have actually struck much more than 1.5 million aluminum 1974 Lincoln cent at the Philadelphia Mint during research and development considering metallic choices to the 3.1-gram cent’s alloy the 95 percent copper and also 5 percent zinc.
PCGS’s check of the 1974-D aluminum cent during the authentication process determined it weighs 0.93 gram, the very same weight as a 1974 aluminum cent certified by PCGS in 2005, 2 months after first being certified by independent Coin Grading.
U.S. Mint records suggest as couple of as 5 to as plenty of as 13 or 14 of the 1974 aluminum cent struck at the Philadelphia Mint continue to be extant.
The Philadelphia Mint aluminum cent originally graded about Uncirculated 58 in 2005 through ICG, but subsequently graded MS-62 through PCGS, is recognized as the Toven specimen.
Albert P. Toven was a U.S. Capitol police officer who supposedly picked up the 1974 aluminum cent in the basement the the Rayburn Office Building, after a congressman, rushing for a legislative poll for which he was late, to reduce the coin. Toven tried to return the piece to the congressman, thinking it to be a dime, yet he was told to keep it.
~ above closer examination, Toven realized it was not a dime, but one the the speculative cents. Toven maintained the piece, commonly retelling the story of exactly how he concerned own it and also showing at every opportunity until it became component of the family’s history.
The Toven 1974 aluminum cent is still privately own by the Toven family, who submitted the coin because that certification first to ICG and also later come PCGS.
when there are a variety of legal opinions within the personal sector that the aluminum cents space legal to own since they were arguably legit released, U.S. Mint officials have a different slant on the issue.
In a Dec. 26, 2013, email to Coin World, Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of that company Communications, responded, “Personally, ns think it would be unreasonable to market our opinion on the legality of possessing a 1974-D aluminum cent, since we have actually officially educated you that they were not minted in Denver.
“However, together a an ext general matter, I want to remind you that any kind of item owned by the unified States government that to be not effectively disposed the in accordance v express lawful authority (which, because that the United says Mint, would include any type of item or “piece” that was not lawfully issued together a coin or numismatic item) continues to be the residential or commercial property of the United claims Government.”
Armen R. Vartian, a Manhattan Beach, Calif., attorney who writes the monthly Coin world column “Collectibles and also Law” and is legitimate counsel for the professional Numismatists Guild, was consulted by McConnell for advice top top disposition that the 1974-D aluminum cent. Vartian claimed he recommended the piece very first be it is registered to PCGS for authentication, which submission Vartian claimed he arranged.
Vartian stated his opinion ~ above the legal condition of the Toven 1974 aluminum cent that surfaced in 2005 has actually not changed, and that opinion uses to the legality that the private ownership that the recently surfaced 1974-D aluminum cent.
“There has actually never been the slightest ide that any 1974 aluminum cent were stolen from the Mint,” Vartian said Coin World. “These pieces might not have been issued as money, yet that floor for heralding coins illegal to own was rubbish in the Langbord instance .
“So we’re left with speculative strikes similar to the trends which have actually sold in the marketplace without government interference because that over a century, and also which the federal government in the instance of the Toven specimen has actually not complained of despite ample publicity regarding its existence.”
In 2009, three years before the Langbord instance involving property of the 10 1933 dual eagles went to trial, the presiding referee rejected the government’s motion for an overview judgment, “which had actually been predicated in component on the theory that no personal person can legally very own a 1933 $20 twin eagle regardless of just how he or she obtained it, because the coins were never ever issued as legal tender,” Vartian said.
Vartian claimed if the presiding referee “had welcomed that non-issued coins to be illegal to own,” he would not have actually ruled versus the government on the motion for an overview judgement.
“The government at some point stopped making that argument, and resolved instead ~ above trying come prove the the Langbord specimens didn’t leave the Mint legally,” Vartian said.
Connecticut lawyer David M. Krassner believes the will likely take an act of congress to define what is supposed by “legally released” or “legally issued.”
Krassner’s flexibility of details Act requests during the 1990s instance involving the King Farouk ns 1933 double eagle succumbed documentation that 66 aluminum cents dated 1975 were also struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
The Mint has also confirmed the 1975 Lincoln bronze-clad steel cent were struck in ~ the Philadelphia Mint throughout same 1970s round of testing. A small number of those survive in exclusive hands together well.
“Four decades have passed since the minting and also the indisputable ‘legal’ release of few of the experimental 1974 aluminum cents right into the hands of certain public officials,” Krassner said. “Some of these legally struck aluminum cent were recall by the U.S. Mint, the U.S. Treasury Department and also the U.S. Secret Service. Some room still unaccounted for.
“What provides the 1933 $20 and also the 1974 aluminum cent instances extremely disconcerting, from both a legal or collector/investor perspective, is the the U.S. Mint was, and also still is unable to specify what ‘legally released’ means.
“Even after ~ the passage of time and numerous court cases, the precise definition of ‘legally released’ has never been defined, drafted or even officially proposed. No perform of prohibition or illegal coins exists.”
The U.S. Mint own no regulation enforcement powers and also must defer come the room of Justice, and U.S. Secret Service, must Mint officials take into consideration the aluminum cents illegal come own.
Coin people contacted the U.S. An enig Service’s Office of public Affairs several times seek opinion top top the legality of property of the aluminum cents and also whether the an enig Service could seize the speculative pieces.
on Jan. 27, distinct Agent George Ogilvie in Washington, D.C., headquarters declined discuss behalf the the bureau.
Coin World also contacted the department of righteousness headquarters in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27 seek comment after notice of the 1974-D aluminum cent was made.
DOJ spokesman Peter Carr decreased comment the exact same day, referring Coin World back to the U.S. Mint and the Treasury Department’s Office the Inspector General.
as of Jan. 29, Coin people was tho awaiting additional legal opinion indigenous the U.S. Mint’s cook counsel, Daniel P. Shaver, and also Richard Delmar, the Treasury OIG’s chef counsel.
Imhof stated Heritage officials consulted through Vartian and also considered his opinion that the 1974-D aluminum cent is legal come own before proceeding with the announcement the the 1974-D aluminum cent will be readily available at auction.
Imhof stated Heritage public official are ready to take every little thing steps important should the federal government intervene in the sale of the 1974-D aluminum cent.
“If that were come happen, we would withdraw the coin from the auction and also work through all parties to with an amicable resolution,” Imhof stated Jan. 27.
Coin civilization requested on Dec. 5, 2013, v Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of this firm Communications, a search of Mint archival records and also heritage heritage of documented Mint property to confirm the manufacturing of 1974-D aluminum cents and also any extant pieces.
In a Dec. 26 email, Jurkowsky responded: “We have actually made one exhaustive search right into your question about the 1974 Aluminum cent. This has had searches by ours curator, historian, executive secretary and also chief counsel. While us are mindful that the United claims Mint in ~ Philadelphia win production-volume quantities of aluminum one-cent pieces, we are not aware of, no one have any information on, the striking that such piece at the United states Mint at Denver.”
Benito Martinez to be a dice setter in 1974 once the 1974-D aluminum cents were struck. Martinez retired from the Denver Mint in 1997.
Martinez said during his Jan. 20, 2014, call interview through Coin people that the recalls highlight fewer than a dozen the the speculative 1974-D Lincoln cent on aluminum blanks that had actually been gave from the Philadelphia Mint.
Martinez claims he doesn’t recall the total variety of aluminum planchets provided to the Denver Mint indigenous the Philadelphia facility no one whether every one of the aluminum planchets gave were struck making use of 1974-D Lincoln cent dies. Martinez claims he doesn’t recollect if any unstruck aluminum planchets to be left over.
Martinez stated he oriented a single pair the 1974-D Lincoln cent dies, aligned come strike vertically, ~ above a traditional coinage press qualified of being outfitted with two pairs of dies.
bother Bobay, a Denver Mint production foreman who died in 1988, gave the aluminum planchets to him one in ~ a time, Martinez said, and also Martinez personal hand fed the planchets between the coinage dies before engaging the striking cycle.
Martinez claimed that after each 1974-D speculative aluminum cent was struck, the struck item was offered to Bobay, that then detailed another solitary unstruck planchet because that Martinez to feed right into the coinage press until lock finished.
The blanks to be upset prior to striking, definition the planchets were run through an upset mill that created a raised rim on the coin to contain metal flowing during striking.
The primary problem encountered through the aluminum cent strikes, Martinez said, was what is known as “finning.”
“Finning” results in high rims, from metal flowing right into the minute gap in between the external edge the the coinage dies and also the restraining sheet collar.
Martinez claimed he doesn’t remind the certain striking tonnage used, however that it was the very same as was offered for to mark circulation problem 1974-D copper cents.
after ~ the 1974-D experimental aluminum cent were developed at the Denver Mint, every one of the strikes were hand-delivered by Bobay come the Coining department Office that the Denver Mint and forwarded to U.S. Mint headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Martinez claimed he go not know what occurred to the aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent experimental strikes after lock were sent out to Washington.
Randy Lawrence said Coin human being Jan. 27 that, complying with his father’s fatality on June 26, 1980, coins his dad had gathered over the year at the Denver Mint, consisting of error coins, passed to him. Bother Lawrence had stored the coins in a plastic sandwich bag, according to his son.
when Lawrence relocated with his 2 children and also elderly mom from Denver to southerly California last August because that a job chance in genuine estate, the plastic sandwich bag went into the tribe of his car and remained there because that a month.
by happenstance, while introducing himself to neighborhood businesses as a new addition come Berkshire Hathaway house Services in La Jolla, Randy Lawrence stated he was presented to one of McConnell’s associates at the La Jolla Coin Shop, which McConnell owns. McConnell additionally owns and also operates san Diego Coin and also Bullion.
top top a subsequent visit to the La Jolla Coin Shop, Lawrence met McConnell. Lawrence said he later on made the decision to offer the coins his father left him come McConnell.
Initially, McConnell believed the 1974-D aluminum cent to be maybe a Lincoln cent struck on a international planchet, but he additionally considered the opportunity it can be miscellaneous else.
McConnell stated he contacted Vartian, who suggested submitting the 1974-D cent to PCGS because that authentication.
throughout the authentication process, PCGS consulted error coin specialist Fred Weinberg in Encino, Calif., for comprehensive details ~ above the production of the 1974 aluminum cents, consisting of their specifications.
The 1974-D aluminum cent McConnell submitted to PCGS weighed the exact same 0.93 gram together the Toven specimen it is registered to ICG and also PCGS in 2005.
David Hall, president of PCGS’s parental firm, Collectors Universe, said that as soon as the grading organization was notified of the opportunity of a real 1974-D aluminum cent, it to be an amazing thought to ponder.
“Of course, when we were initially told about it climate the following thought was: walk it really exist?” room said. “We always have to number out if the item associated is real. I knew this was an incredible story, and hoped v all my heart that the coin would certainly really exist and also that it would certainly be genuine,” hall said.
“When I later saw the coin in person I had actually a gut feeling it was, indeed, real. Our specialists checked out the coin, and also we to be unanimous the it is certain genuine.”
McConnell said as soon as the piece was returned to him through PCGS, authenticated and also graded as the first genuine 1974-D aluminum cent, he automatically telephoned Lawrence to tell him about it.
In more than 30 years together a experienced dealer, “this is the solitary most significant coin I’ve handled,” McConnell said.
Lawrence claimed he admires McConnell for being an ethical coin dealer and also informing him of the coin’s identification and also potential value.
McConnell and Lawrence agreed come an undisclosed separation of the network proceeds native the scheduled April auction that the coin.
indigenous the proceeds a “six-figure” donation will certainly be make to help the homeless in the san Diego area, according to McConnell and Lawrence.
follow to U.S. Mint records, in two manufacturing runs the Philadelphia Mint struck 1,571,167 aluminum cents, combined, date 1974.
The facility struck the second run, one more 130,128 that the speculative aluminum cents, in between April 12, 1974, and also May 30, 1974.
Audit documents signed by wilhelm Humbert, who headed the U.S. Mint’s interior audit staff, keep in mind that all but 59 pieces from the very first production run and all however 67 native the second were destroyed.
one undisclosed number of the pieces not destroyed were spread to members that Congress and staff members, as well as other federal government officials as part of the Mint’s legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to gain passage that legal government to win the cents for circulation.
when U.S. Mint Director mary Brooks asked for the return that those distributed aluminum cents, not all were returned.
end an 18-month duration Humbert issued memos around the production and destruction records for the 1974 aluminum cents, and also the variety of extant pieces, follow to Weinberg, fluctuated between five and also 14.

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The joined States government closed the probe of any lacking 1974 aluminum cents by February 1976, determining that there was “no proof of criminal intent” through those in possession of any kind of of the speculative pieces.