US Coins

Missing Mint mark makes 1922-D Lincoln cent valuable

The 1922-D Lincoln, Missing D, Strong Reverse cent, identified as Die Pair 2, is a tricky coin to both authenticate and grade.

No 1922 Lincoln cents were struck at the Philadelphia Mint (where they would not have a Mint mark in the obverse die). But thankfully, of the 7,160,000 1922-D cents struck in Denver, one die pair shows no Mint mark, providing a 1922 “Plain” cent for collectors longing for the missing 1922 Philadelphia Mint issue. 

The Denver Mint was a bit loose in its quality control in the mid-1920s, and the “No D” was the likely result of two dies clashing in the minting process when they met without a planchet between them.

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As the most recent “Mega Red Book” explains, “It is thought that the D was completely ground off of one die—that die being from pair No. 2—when it was relapped, or resurfaced, to reduce surface roughness and extend its life. Cents of 1922-D struck without a mintmark always have a very weakly detailed obverse in other areas as well. The reverse can range from weak to fairly sharp, depending upon the die.” 

Of the four die pairs, the most expensive by far is the 1922 “No D, Strong Reverse” Lincoln cent. The 1922 “Weak D” Mint mark variety and “Weak Reverse” variety sell for much less. 

Because the coins were struck with worn dies, even rare Mint State survivors show weak details on Lincoln’s hair that aren’t the result of wear, but rather, from a lack of details on the dies themselves. 

Heritage Auctions offered a pleasing 1922-D Lincoln, No D, Strong Reverse cent graded About Uncirculated 58 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker at its recent March Signature Auction in Dallas. The cataloger wrote, “This nearly Uncirculated survivor features the usual softness on the motto and portrait, and the D mintmark is entirely missing as a result of lapping. A strong second 2 in the date is diagnostic. The reverse, struck from a fresh die, is boldly defined on the upper wheat stalks and the legends.” The handsome cent sold for $9,600. 

A few months earlier another example of the same die pair in the same grade, also with a green CAC sticker, brought $8,400 at an October 2018 Heritage auction. What differentiated the two was that the more recently offered one had sharp details and warm, glossy chocolate surfaces, while the earlier example showed fewer obverse details and a light blue color on the high points that made the light wear at the high points even more apparent. Both were eye appealing, as the CAC stickers on both indicate, but the $9,600 one was a bit stronger in its appearance. 

Third-party grading has made collectors more confident when buying a “No D, Strong Reverse” cent since the “Weak D” cents can be deceptively marketed as “No D” cents, and some shady characters have simply removed a D Mint mark from a 1922-D cent. Some collectors don’t value the variety, thinking that it is just another 1920s Denver Mint coin struck from worn dies, but its inclusion in the “Red Book” and grading service registry set has made it a must-have for series specialists. 

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