Rare 1983 Bronze Cent Discovered

More 1983 solid copper-alloy bronze Lincoln cents have been found. OR's Ernie Gesner found it while collecting pre-1982 (and 1982) copper coins for melt value. Despite not collecting, he read my book Strike It Rich With Pocket Change, co-authored with Dr. Brian Allen, last year. From our listing for the 1983 Bronze cent discovered by Billy Crawford, Gesner began searching for one, believing the worth warranted the effort

The 2012 find was by a Pennsylvania collector who had previously bought Strike It Rich With Pocket Change, which led the anonymous finder to weigh 1983 cents in search of one. The second known. After buying the book, that collector discovered it weeks later.

From 1963 to mid-1982, Lincoln pennies were solid brass-95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc. Collectors call them "bronze," the alloy of 95% copper, 5% zinc, and 2% tin used from 1909 until 1962. Both brass and bronze planchets weigh 3.11 grams. Although technically wrong, I will call this specimen bronze throughout this article.

Since mid-1982, business strike cents have been struck on 2.5-gram barrel-plated zinc planchets with a trace of copper. The coin should have been minted on this, however it was struck on a 1982 or older bronze planchet. Transitional Errors are the hobby's term. Gesner remembers buying 50,000 bronze coins for $800 two years ago. He discovered this oddity halfway through them while searching for 1983-(P) and 1983-D bronze cents and other collecting coins.

retired printer Gesner lives on a small Oregon farm and has been “hunting pennies for 12 years.” Gesner stated, “Some people count sheep to fall asleep; I count pennies.” I find it humiliating when I hear “you’re the man” but I assume that comes with the territory.

Coinweb, a company of Harrisburg, Pa.-based N.F. String & Son, Inc., best known for coin wrappers, sold Gesner his 50,000 cents. Gretchen String calls their 400 machines the Mid-Atlantic's Coinstar, collecting coins from banks, grocery stores, check-cashing centres, and others. Coin wrapping machines are sold alongside wrappers. String estimated that Coinweb's New York-to-Virginia machines earn 20 million cents annually. They sell all copper cents, foreign coins, and 35 percent war nickels, 90 percent U.S. silver coins, and 80 percent Canadian silver coins on eBay.

The only 1982-D tiny date and 1983-D cents on copper alloy planchets have been found recently. I reported both in Numismatic News and Stack's Bowers auctioned them two years ago. 1982-D sold for $18,800, 1983-D for $17,625. Two Lincolns taken from circulation at face value by the finders made a good profit! You may read more about both coins in my Numismatic News story.

In 2016, Stack's Bowers Galleries' Aug. 11 Rarities Night sale sold a 1989-D Lincoln cent struck on a pre-1983 bronze cent planchet graded PCGS MS-65 RD for $3,525. Heritage Auctions sold a 1990-D cent on a pre-1983, 3.1-gram copper-alloy planchet rated PCGS MS-64 Brown for $5,540 in January 2018.

So far, Heritage Auctions has handled six 1983 instances, while Stack's Bowers has handled three. I found no sales records. Accordingly, the 1983-P and -D bronze pennies are rarer than the 1943-P-D-S, which sold for $1 million and the unique 1943-D for $1,750,000! Pre-'83 bronze planchets have also yielded many rare 1983-P and -D Jefferson nickels. Check later nickels on cent planchets for weight. Share your findings!

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