Second 1982-D Mini Date Copper-Alloy Lincoln Cent Found

Another 1982-D Found: Small Date homogeneous copper alloy Lincoln cent. This latest discovery coin is AU-58 like the first. The PCGS label says it weights 3.07 grams, which is within tolerance. Copper-alloy cents weigh 3.1 grams and copper-plated zinc cents 2.5 grams. give or take a few tenths of gram.

The Heritage Auctions cataloger noted, "The January 3, 2017 issue of Numismatic News revealed the discovery of a solid bronze 1982-D Small Date cent, long speculated but never proven. Minnesota collector Paul Malone discovered it. The discovery coin, NGC AU58, sold for $18,800 as lot 2031 in an August 2017 Stack's-Bowers auction

Medium to deep walnut-brown tone and sharp striking in little abrade. Cents changed from bronze to copper-plated zinc in 1982 because to increased copper prices. The quality of strikes worsened, and the obverse legends, including the year, were changed to speed zinc cent press manufacture. Denver developed the Small Date subtype after coining the leftover bronze planchets. Any 1982-D Small Date bronze cents are transitional alloy errors, cousins to the 1943 bronze cents."

Some believe the 1982 cent has grown from a seven-coin set to an eight-coin set, assuming one counts one of them as a variant. The scarcity of the components makes this implausible. Like the 1943 copper cents, it is an error. The currency has been greatly sought after since Malone discovered the first known piece, regardless of name. After finding a second specimen, searchers have more hope than ever!

I wrote in my January 3, 2017, NN story: "Where there is one, there are usually more so I expect additional reports to come in though I expect the coin to continue to be rare." That forecast was accurate, and I expect more soon! Former NN Editor Dave Harper says the Jan. 3, 2017 online version of the story has garnered the most attention. Find it here. Thus, there will be many companies seeking for one, yet there are billions of 1982-D Small Date pennies.

The 1982 variants use solid copper-alloy and copper-plated zinc planchets and the Large Date and Small Date die modification. The Philadelphia and Denver mints could produce eight business strike combinations using two planchet kinds and two die styles. In mid-1982, the Mint shifted from striking copper-alloy to copper-plated zinc planchets to save money. Copper-alloy planchets were too expensive to strike.

But there was more. The Mint had problems striking the new planchets with the existing die design (used for years with only the date altering), so they updated the dies to strike copper-plated zinc cents.

Collectors termed the new design “Small Date” and the old one “Large Date.” It appeared there were seven variations, but some of us believed the eighth must exist even if rare. Both types of planchets included Small and Large Date variations, although only the Denver-coined Small Date copper cent was never minted.

The Mint switched from a Large Date to a Small Date because zinc does not strike up like copper or a copper alloy. The Mint struck copper hard and fast, but in 1982 it discovered that the strike was unsatisfactory on copper-plated zinc planchet coins. Lengthening the squeeze slowed the striking and filled the dies. Production numbers dropped, therefore die modifications were the only solution.

The “Small Date” title is misleading because the date, LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, and likely other less visible portrait design modifications are smaller and more delicate. Since there was less date, motto, and legend to fill during the strike, they could increase the numbers by hammering the planchets faster and reducing squeezing length. Other design alteration possibilities have been proposed, but the Mint has not verified them. These are the explanations it gave.

Some veteran collectors can discern the difference between solid copper alloy and copper-plated pennies by sight alone, even by color, as I can often do. In practice, it's best to weigh 1982-D Small Date cents to find a rare 3.1 gram copper-alloy specimen. In recent years, digital scales have become cheaper for currency weighing. First one cost over $125, latest one roughly $14.

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