US Coins

Collector finds 1983 bronze cent in circulation

ANACS has authenticated and graded a bronze 1983 Lincoln cent transitional error that a collector in Washington, D.C., found in September in a box of rolled cents.

The firm graded the coin Extremely Fine 45 and encapsulated it.

The ANACS grading label also notes the coin is a struck-through error, having been struck through grease inadvertently deposited on the dies before the coin was struck.

Look what I found

The collector who found the 1983 Lincoln cent wishes to remain anonymous but said he plans to consign the coin for public auction.


The collector told Coin World Oct. 4 he found the coin while searching through hundreds of wrapped rolls of Lincoln cents in $25 dollar boxes. 

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The collector said the boxed coins were a mixture of machine-wrapped and manually wrapped paper rolls containing 50 coins per roll.

Although he was introduced to coin collecting as a youngster by his father, the collector said he didn’t become an avid hobbyist until 2017. He then began searching through rolls of cents he secures from a number of banks in the D.C. area.

The 31-year-old collector recalls from his youth his dad sharing with him his passion for numismatics, differentiating how collectible coins differed from generic pocket change.

“I never understood the beauty of the hobby until I took the time and sat down with my Dad to talk about collecting. I did a lot of research before I began my searching.”

The collector said he had a hunch he likely had something special when he pulled the bronze cent out of a roll and it appeared different from other 1983 cents he’s come across in the past year of searching.

He said he set the coin aside until he determined he needed to send the coin to ANACS for authentication and grading to know for sure.

Coin specifications

The newly discovered transitional error was struck on a planchet left over from 1982 production as the U.S. Mint transitioned from bronze planchets, weighing 3.11 grams, to copper-plated zinc planchets, weighing 2.5 grams and comprising 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper.

The wrong planchet cent was likely produced in the same manner as the 1943 Lincoln cents struck on leftover copper planchets instead of the intended zinc-coated steel.

During the production of Lincoln cents in 1983, unstruck planchets in steel hoppers with a hinged trap door on the bottom would have been mechanically hoisted in the air above the coinage presses to be fed into the machines for production. Bronze planchets left over from 1982 production may have become trapped behind the hinged door on the bottom of a hopper. The planchets likely became dislodged when new planchets were dumped into the hopper after blanking and upsetting, the process of placing a raised rim on the blank to transform it into a planchet.

The dislodged bronze planchets then would have been fed into the coinage presses along with the correct planchets and struck into cents.

The older bronze planchets are believed to have remained in the tote hoppers for at least four months, from October 1982 to January 1983 or later.

Multiple examples are known of the Philadelphia Mint’s bronze 1983 cents, which have generated low five-figure prices realized, but only one 1983-D bronze cent from production at the Denver Mint is certified. It is graded About Uncirculated 55 and realized $17,625 in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 3, 2017, Rarities Night auction session held in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Denver.

J.P. Martin said Oct. 2 that he and fellow ANACS senior numismatist and grader Michael Fahey were skeptical at first about the 1983 cent’s authenticity based on the initial examination of the rough surfaces.

Their examination determined the coin is a struck-through error in addition to a transitional error. Martin said the new find weighs 3.08 grams. As part of the coin’s authentication process, ANACS commissioned a spectrographic analysis to determine its complete metallic composition. The results determined the coin is 93.3556 percent copper, .009 percent silver, 6.5138 zinc, 0.0434 percent nickel and 0.772 percent iron.

The standard composition should have been 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. 

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