Privately held 1974 aluminum cent may be next on U.S. Mint’s bucket list: Monday Morning Brief, March 28

By , Coin World
Published : 03/28/16
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Now that the lone example of aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent is securely back in the custody of the United States Mint in settlement of litigation over ownership rights, what previous U.S. Mint-struck product will the nation's coin producer target for recovery next?

Full video transcript:

Good morning. This is the Monday Morning Brief. I’m Coin World Senior Editor Paul Gilkes.

Now that the lone example of aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent is securely back in the custody of the United States Mint in settlement of litigation over ownership rights, what previous U.S. Mint-struck product will the nation’s coin producer target for recovery next?

Top on the bucket list appears to be the only known example of aluminum 1974 Lincoln cent in private hands remaining from experimental production into compositional alternatives for the cent. Not all examples distributed to some members of Congress were returned.

The only other publicly disclosed example of 1974 aluminum cent is the one in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Specifically concerning the extant 1974 aluminum cent and whether the U.S. Mint will pursue recovery, U.S. Mint officials responded: “The Government draws no distinction between the piece recovered this week and any other 1974-dated aluminum cent piece that may exist. A limited number of 1974-dated aluminum cent pieces were produced, all were withheld from circulation, and none were lawfully issued for release as legal tender. If at some point we are presented with specific information concerning the whereabouts of any other 1974-dated aluminum cent piece, we will take the appropriate next steps to retrieve it as well.”

A similar response was provided by the U.S. Mint when
Coin World asked about a unique 1907 $20 gold pattern that entered the numismatic marketplace from the estate of former U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Chares E. Barber and is in private hands. If the pattern came to be in private hands without proper authority, U.S. Mint officials say the bureau will take the proper legal steps to retrieve it.

The 1974-D aluminum cent was returned to U.S. Mint officials on March 17 by the son of a former deputy superintendent of the Denver Mint and the California dealer to whom he sold it in 2013. The piece was slated for auction in 2014 until the U.S. Mint sought its return.

A deposition from the U.S. Mint official who oversaw the experimental aluminum cent production in 1974 concluded striking of aluminum cents at the Denver Mint was never legally sanctioned.

The government is also still litigating the final disposition of 10 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles that surfaced in 2003 and which the bureau seized in 2005 after an 11-month authentication process. They currently reside at Fort Knox.

U.S. Mint officials didn’t bat an eye when seven 1921 and 1922 Peace dollars from the estate of former U.S. Mint Director Raymond T. Baker [from experimental production of the series] surfaced from two unconnected private owners in 2014. The Peace dollars sold in two separate auctions that year for more than $1.2 million combined.

And what about the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coins that were struck clandestinely at the Philadelphia Mint that have traded hands at public auctions for years, and now worth in the millions of dollars each.

What’s the distinction in each of these cases? Stay tuned. For
Coin World, I’m Paul Gilkes.

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