US Coins

Grading service examines altered cent variety: Fahey

Detecting Counterfeits column from July 11, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

The 1992 Lincoln cent represents an opportunity for collectors to locate an expensive variety by searching their pocket change, or examining rolls of cents obtained from banks.

Nearly the entire mintage of 1992 Lincoln cents from all three Mints featured the reverse with the Wide AM in AMERICA.

However, a handful of pieces from both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints have been discovered with the Close AM reverse, a hub design that was not intended for use until 1993.

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These 1992 and 1992-D Lincoln, Close AM cents have sold for thousands of dollars once they are authenticated as genuine.

In addition to the spacing between the feet of the A and the M in AMERICA, other hub differences can be used in identifying a Wide AM or a Close AM. The Close AM reverse has more space between the designer’s initials FG and the base of the Memorial, and the G in these initials has a straight upright.

Go to for more information on these varieties, along with a complete list of Wide AM and Close AM Lincoln cents that you can search for.

The coin shown here is an alteration, produced by piecing together a normal 1992 obverse and a Close AM reverse from 1993 or later. The seam where the two pieces were joined is inside the raised rim on the obverse, where the rim connects with the field. This seam is easiest to see above the letters in TRUST although a quality magnifier and good lighting are needed.

Any 1992 Lincoln cent with the Close AM reverse should be carefully inspected for a seam. Check the rims on either side of the coin, and also check the edge of the coin for signs of alteration, or submit the coin to one of the major grading services.

I would like to thank Scott Schechter for helping to identify and publish this fake. Scott is the author of the Coin World column “Making Moderns,” and is an expert with rare modern varieties.

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