ANA conventioneers to have chance to see 1974-D aluminum cent

Mysterious piece to be on view at the booth jointly occupied by the U.S. Mint and the BEP
By , Coin World
Published : 08/03/16
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United States Mint officials are fulfilling a promise to publicly exhibit the 1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent when the mysterious piece goes on view at the Mint's booth at the American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money in Anaheim, Calif.

The coin will be on view during show hours Aug. 9 to 13 at the booth shared jointly by the Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, according to a press release from the BEP. Both Treasury Department agencies will sell products at the convention as well as display rarities from their heritage archives like the 1974-D aluminum cent and sheets of $100,000 notes.

The existence of the 1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent was first discovered when it was found in September 2013 in a small bag of coins that the late Harry Edmond Lawrence had collected. Lawrence was a former employee of the Denver Mint and had retired as assistant superintendent in 1980, not long before his death. According to his son Randall Lawrence, the elder Lawrence had been presented the aluminum cent as a retirement gift by Denver Mint officials. The younger Lawrence had sold his father's collection to Michael McConnell, a coin dealer in La Jolla, Calif. When McConnell discovered the aluminum cent in the collection and realized its significance, he contacted Lawrence and they agreed to hold it jointly with plans to sell the piece.

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As Coin World reported previously, it was set to be a highlight of Heritage’s April 24, 2014, Central States Numismatic Society Platinum Night auction where it was estimated to sell in the neighborhood of $250,000. However, the Mint sent separate letters to Lawrence and McConnell on Feb. 26, 2014, demanding the return of the piece, and the Mint sent a letter to Heritage requesting removal of the piece from auction. The coin was subsequently withdrawn from the auction.

McConnell and Lawrence then filed a federal lawsuit against the government in March 2014 to retain the cent, while in June of the same year, the government filed its own motion to dismiss the March suit. In March 2015, a federal judge ruled in favor of the two individuals and against the government, permitting the two men to continue to pursue legal action to retain the cent.

The legal case was resolved in March 2016 when Randall Lawrence and McConnell agreed to return the cent to the Mint. The Mint acquired the coin in San Diego on March 17. Lawrence had read testimony from a former Mint official attesting to his father's unquestionable integrity and decided that returning the coin was the right thing to do.

Although Mint records show production of experimental aluminum cents dated 1974 and 1975 at the Philadelphia Mint, no records have been found indicating sanctioned production of 1974-D aluminum cents at the Denver Mint. However, Coin World senior editor Paul Gilkes contacted a former Denver Mint employee who remembered the cent production, and court documents revealed how planchets from the Philadelphia Mint made it to the Denver Mint.

Products to be sold at the convention

During the convention, the BEP will offer the following new products for sale, according to its press release:

$1 50-Subject Uncut Currency Sheets — For the first time ever, the BEP is offering full, uncut sheets of Series 2013 $1 Federal Reserve notes.

Independence Collection – Pursuit of Happiness” — This card is the third and final print in the 2016 Intaglio Print Subscription Program, which features three cards:  Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.  This series is dedicated to the Declaration of Independence and features an exquisite compilation of unique, engraved vignettes focusing on the age-old art of intaglio printing.

The Mint will also offer an assortment of collectible products from the Mint according to the press release, including coins in the 2016 Mark Twain and National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Programs and other annual offerings.  

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