The United States Mint is seeking the return of an experimental aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent it claims is government property, even though the bureau’s own records show no evidence of the coin ever being produced by the Mint.
Meanwhile, Randall Lawrence and Michael McConnell — from whom the U.S. Mint is seeking the coin’s return — filed suit in federal court March 14 seeking declaratory judgment that would allow the two men to retain ownership of the coin for its planned sale at auction.
The experimental aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent was scheduled to be offered for sale during Heritage Auctions April 24 Platinum Session held in conjunction with Central States Numismatic Society’s 75th Anniversary Convention in Schaumburg, Ill.
The coin has since been withdrawn from the sale pending the outcome of the litigation.
Lawrence’s and McConnell’s attorney, Armen Vartian, said March 20 that the 1974-D experimental cent remains in the possession of Heritage, as would any coin consigned for auction whose title has come into question.
Lawrence and McConnell had hoped to donate a minimum of $100,000 of the net proceeds from the sale of the coin at auction to help provide services to the homeless in the San Diego area.
Heritage Auctions officials value the 1974-D aluminum cent in the neighborhood of $250,000, according to Todd Imhof, Heritage’s executive vice president.
The 1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent, the only example known extant from a purported production of no more than 12 pieces, is graded and encapsulated Mint State 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service.
Imhof said Heritage officials consulted with Vartian and considered his opinion that the 1974-D aluminum cent is legal to own before proceeding with the announcement that the 1974-D aluminum cent would be offered at auction.
Randall Lawrence is the son of Harry Edmond Lawrence. After some 20 years in the Denver Mint facility, predominantly in the assistant superintendent’s position, the senior Lawrence retired as assistant superintendent in 1980. He died the same year.