1974-D aluminum cent, 1933 double eagles at U.S. Mint booth at ANA World’s Fair

Nation's coin producer to exhibit rarities targeted in legal actions
By , Coin World
Published : 07/26/17
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An aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent once held by a former Denver Mint assistant superintendent and two of 10 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles in U.S. Mint custody will be displayed by the Mint Aug. 1 to 5 in Denver at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money at the Colorado Convention Center.

Also on exhibit will be the four-piece 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary silver medal set featuring 1-ounce .999 fine silver medals struck at the Mint's four production facilities and each executed with a different finish.

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The Mint also plans to unveil the adopted designs for the 2018 America the Beautiful quarter dollars and participate in the World Mints Passport Program, in which collectors obtain coins from each of the world mints in attendance. The U.S. Mint will be distributing the 2017-D Ozark National Scenic Riverways quarter dollar.

Controversial rarities

The 1974-D aluminum cent was reportedly given by Denver Mint staff to Harry Lawrence, assistant superintendent of the Denver Mint, upon his retirement in 1980. The strike passed to Lawrence's son, Randall, upon the elder Lawrence’s death later that year.

Soon after moving to the San Diego area in 2014, Randall Lawrence sold the 1974-D aluminum cent to LaJolla, California, dealer Michael McConnell. The coin was put up for auction in April 2015 through Heritage Auctions, but withdrawn after the Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Mint, filed suit seeking return of the aluminum cent as government property.

U.S. Mint officials argued that the 1974-D aluminum cent was struck without authorization of U.S. Mint officials in Washington. The Philadelphia Mint had produced aluminum cents during research into composition alternatives for the cent.

After a year of legal wrangling, the 1974-D aluminum cent was delivered to U.S. Mint officials on March 17, 2016. The piece is the only example extant from among a purported dozen or so pieces struck.


Connecting coins, the arts, and American monuments: Another column in the August 7 monthly issue of Coin World continues with the art theme, as the artists who’ve designed our most gorgeous pieces of paper currency are profiled.


The two 1933 double eagles to be on display in Denver are among 10 that have been secured at the Fort Knox Gold Bullion Depository in Kentucky for more than a decade. All 10 gold pieces were exhibited together at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Denver in 2006.

The 2006 exhibit came a year after U.S. Mint officials seized the gold pieces under claims the pieces were stolen government property, and two years after the gold pieces surfaced in a safety-deposit box in Pennsylvania controlled by Joan Switt Langbord. The Langbord family voluntarily turned over the gold pieces to the U.S. Mint through the Secret Service for authentication purposes.

The gold pieces were the subject of protracted litigation in federal court that ended in the spring of 2017 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of lower court rulings granting ownership to the federal government.

Although the Mint's press release now refers to the pieces to as “double eagles”  and “gold coins,” the 10 gold pieces were claimed to be “chattel,” not coins, in the words of government attorneys. The government has taken the position that the double eagles are not coins since they were not officially monetized for circulation distribution, a position that numismatists reject based on historical practices by the Mint in 1933.

A coin alleged to be the King Farouk 1933 double eagle resurfaced in 1996, 42 years after withdrawn from auction at the behest of the U.S. State Department, and was seized by U.S. authorities. A legal battle ended in 2001 when the government and British dealer Stephen Fenton (who claimed ownership of the coin) reached an agreement that permitted the coin to be sold at auction with the two parties splitting the proceeds. The coin sold for $7.59 million in a July 2002 auction by Sotheby’s in conjunction with Stack’s. An additional $20 was applied to the purchase price to allow the coin to be “monetized,” and it is the only 1933 double eagle declared legal to own. The coin is on exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Four-medal set

The designs for the medals in the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary silver medal set are adapted from the 2017-W American Liberty 225th Anniversary gold $100 coin, but without the coin inscriptions. The silver medals also are struck in lower relief that the gold coin, which is produced at the West Point Mint in high relief.

The set is to be offered at a date that is yet to be announced, as are details on pricing and mintages.

The four-medal set will comprise medals struck at the Denver (Uncirculated), Philadelphia (Reverse Proof), West Point (Enhanced Uncirculated) and San Francisco Mints (standard Proof). Each medal will bear the Mint mark of the respective facility where it is struck.

A standard Proof medal struck at the Philadelphia Mint, offered individually, has been available from the Mint since June 14, priced at $59.95 each, with no mintage or household ordering limits.

A standard Proof version is struck from specially prepared dies and polished planchets and displays frosted devices against mirrored fields. A Reverse Proof finish displays mirrored devices against frosted fields.

Uncirculated pieces are struck on planchets that are burnished by being tumbled with steel media in a cleaning and brightening solution and then dried before striking. For the Enhanced Uncirculated version, the burnished planchets are struck with dies having specific design elements subjected to varying intensities of laser frosting and polishing techniques.

The silver medals are struck on the same type of 40.61-millimeter planchets as are used to strike American Eagles.

2018 America the Beautiful quarter dollar designs

The approved America the Beautiful quarter dollar designs for 2018 depict reverse images reflective of Pictured Rocks National Seashroe in Michigan; Apostle Islands National Seashore in Wisconsin; Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota; Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia; and Block Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island.

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