The United States Mint’s exhibit of the sole known example of a
1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent was an attraction for collectors
attending the Aug. 9 to 13 American Numismatic Association World’s
Fair of Money in Anaheim, Calif.
So were printed copies of a four-page, full-color informational
brochure about the coin’s history distributed at the Mint’s booth at
the convention, and although the Mint is not offering the printed
brochure to collectors who didn’t attend the show, the Mint posted on
its website information from the brochure detailing the production of
the 1974-D Lincoln cent struck in aluminum.
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The information is hosted on the Mint website, and the material
will remain available for an indeterminate period until it is moved
into an archive file.
The brochure as provided to Coin World by the Mint in PDF
format can be viewed at the bottom of this article, with availability
for download, as a courtesy to our readers.
RELATED: Coin World saw the 1974-D alumninum cent on
display at ANA
The color brochure illustrates obverse and reverse images of the
1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent that was returned to the Mint earlier
this year pursuant to litigation.
The brochure also illustrates an original Lincoln cent obverse
plaster model that would have been used in the die making process in
1974. The D Mint mark of the Denver Mint would have been manually
punched into each working die for production.
According to the brochure, during the Mint’s examination of
compositional alternatives for the cent amid rising copper prices,
experimental sheets of an aluminum alloy were sent to the Denver
facility to be cut into cent blanks and shipped back to the
Philadelphia Mint, where experimental strikes were already being
pursued in aluminum.
“This was done because Denver’s blanks were slightly larger than the
ones used in Philadelphia and the experimental team wanted to see if
the different size affected the alloy’s utility,” according to the
brochure’s details. “The Denver Mint was not authorized to strike any
experimental aluminum cent and most of the blanks were returned to
Philadelphia as instructed.
“Nonetheless, at least one Denver Mint employee recalls striking
experimental cents on the aluminum blanks using an existing ‘D’ marked
die. This effort was unauthorized and in direct contradiction to
Randall Lawrence, the son of former Assistant Denver Mint
Superintendent Harry Edmond Lawrence, discovered the 1974-D aluminum
cent among items that had been presented to his father at his 1980
retirement shortly before his passing. The items were bequeathed to
Randy Lawrence initially sold the 1974-D aluminum cent and other
coins for an undisclosed sum in September 2013 to Michael McConnell,
owner of La Jolla Coin Shop in La Jolla, Calif.
After McConnell learned the potential worth of the aluminum cent, he
decided to partner with Randy Lawrence in the public auction of the
cent in April 2014 by Heritage Auctions. McConnell planned to use his
share of the proceeds for aiding the homeless in the La Jolla area.
Professional Coin Grading Service had graded and encapsulated the
aluminum cent as Mint State 63 in December 2013.
The cent was withdrawn from the sale lineup shortly before the 2014
auction after the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the Mint,
filed a civil complaint seeking return of the experimental 1974-D
aluminum cent. Randy Lawrence and McConnell filed their own complaint,
but eventually withdrew the action, subsequently returning the piece
to the Mint in March 2016.
One of the stipulations for the coin’s return was that McConnell
could break the cent out of its PCGS holder so he could retain the
U.S. Mint 1974-D aluminum cent brochure