The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC) has announced that they have certified an, until recently, unknown variety of the 1982 bronze 1c coin. The coin is the only known example of its type known to exist, to date. The coin in question is a 1982 small date variety bronze 1c coin from the Denver mint.
In 1982 the price of copper was skyrocketing and the mint was starting to lose money by producing 1c coins from 95% copper and 5 zinc. This bronze alloy was then replaced by a copper plated zinc planchet, significantly reducing he manufacturing costs of a penny coin. The problem was that, as the mint discovered, these new copper plated zinc planchets required a longer strike to “fill out” properly.
In essence, because the zinc planchets were not as malleable as the predominantly copper composed brass planchets, they needed a longer “squeeze” from the dies to avoid a weak strike on the new coins. The longer strike time per coin meant that production rates for the new zinc penny coins plummeted in comparison to the older brass coins.
In order to remedy this the mint decided to alter the dies for the Lincoln 1c coins. Making both the dates and legend slightly, but noticeably, smaller. With these new dies the US Mint could return to their regular production rates while using the much cheaper zinc core planchets.
As a result of this process seven known varieties of the 1982 1 cent coin were struck and released into general circulation, these are :
1982 Large Date Bronze
1982 Small Date Bronze
1982 Large Date Brass-Plated Zinc
1982 Small Date Brass-Plated Zinc
1982-D Large Date Brass-Plated Zinc
1982-D Small Date Brass-Plated Zinc and the
1982-D Large Date Bronze
So logically many collectors maintained that, surely, there had to be at least a few 1982-D small date bronze coins in existence as well. But this has never been confirmed and none have ever been found – until now.
The existence of this coin was first revealed by US coin variety and error specialist Ken Potter, in an article written for Numismatic News in December of 2016. He claims that the discoverer, a collector from Minnesota who whishes to remain anonymous, contacted him to verify the coin after discovering it in a bag of pennies pulled from circulation in November of the same year.
The coin was subsequently sent to NGC for certification. NGC verified Ken Potter's findings and certified it as “1982-D Small Date 1c / Bronze Transitional” with an “AU 58 BN” grade. The coin also received a special label as a “Discovery Coin”. It is interesting to note however, that the NGC opted tot to label the coin as a variety but rather as a “Mint Error”. In a statement released about the coin, the NGC commented that :
“While one could argue that this piece is the eighth variety of circulation issue 1982 cents, NGC has attributed it as a mint error since it was undoubtedly struck in error from a leftover planchet and unintentionally released into circulation. The piece weighs 3.08 grams, which is well within the Mint’s tolerance for bronze cents”
It is naturally difficult to find fault in this argument though. Known examples, albeit exceedingly rare, do exist of 95% copper planchet 1c coins dated 1983 and even 1989 and 1990. Old planchets get misplaced, then re-discovered and then mixed in with newer ones.
At any rate, however it was that the coin came about, if one exists then it is probable that more do as well. Perhaps you might even have one sitting in your penny jar right now.
It is not known, at this time, if the coin will be placed on auction or if the collector is opting to keep the piece in his collection. World Numismatic News will be sure to keep you updated if there are any new developments related to this story.