US Coins

Mint could seek to recover 1974 aluminum cent

Now that the U.S. Mint has successfully recovered the aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent once held by a former Denver Mint deputy superintendent, U.S. Mint officials said they could pursue recovery of the only known Philadelphia Mint-struck 1974 aluminum cent in collector hands if they knew its location.

"The government draws no distinction between the piece recovered this week and any other 1974-dated aluminum cent piece that may exist." Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint's Office of Corporate Communications, said March 22. "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."

The extant 1974 aluminum cent that the U.S. Mint is considering to seek return of has been referred to as the Albert P. Toven specimen. The 1974 aluminum cent was reported to have been retrieved by a U.S. Capitol police officer after it was dropped by an unnamed congressman who had received samples from U.S. Mint officials during a congressional hearing on composition alternatives for the cent.

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Independent Coin Graders authenticated, graded and encapsulated the Toven piece as About Uncirculated 58 in July 2005, and identfied the Toven pedigree on the grading label insert. In October 2005, the Toven cent was crossed over into a Professional Coin Grading Service holder and graded Mint State 62. The Toven pedigree does not appear on the PCGS grading label insert.

While the 1974-D aluminum cent, which PCGS graded and encapsulated MS-63, is listed in the PCGS Population Report, the Toven 1974 aluminum cent is not. The 1974-D aluminum cent was removed from its PCGS holder and placed into a separate plastic coin capsule before being turned over to authorities March 17, 2016.

The only other known 1974 aluminum cent extant from that experimental production seeking a composition alternative is in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.

Randall Lawrence, son of former Denver Mint Deputy Supterintent Harry Lawrence, and Michael McConnell, the La Jolla Coin Shop owner in California to whom Randall Lawrence sold the 1974-D aluminum cent in September 2013, turned the coin over to U.S. Mint officials March 17 at the federal building in San Diego, ending litigation to determine ownership rights. U.S. Mint officials contend the 1974-D aluminum cent was never officially authorized and was the property of the U.S. government and illegal to be privately owned.

Randall Lawrence had inherited the 1974-D aluminum cent along with a group of other coins from his father.

The 1974-D aluminum cent was scheduled to be sold by Heritage Auctions in its April 2014 Central States Numismatic Society convention sale, but was pulled by auction officials pending the outcome of Randall Lawrence and McConnell's lawsuit.

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