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First Copper Alloy 1983-D Cent Found
By Ken Potter, Numismatic News
January 10, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Jeff Young of Ohio appears to be the latest collector to find a heretofore unknown Transitional Error on a Lincoln cent worth $15,000. After years of searching, he is the first to report to Numismatic News an example of a 1983-D cent struck on a pre-1982 (or early 1982) homogeneous 95-percent copper alloy planchet, or what most folks just call a “copper planchet.”

He found it after reading all three editions of a book I co-wrote with Dr. Brian Allen, Strike It Rich With Pocket Change, where we have a listing for what was the only known example of a Philadelphia minted 1983 cent struck on a solid copper alloy planchet. There are now at least two confirmed examples of the latter coin with the second known discovered in 2010 as a direct result of the owner buying our book.

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Young said that he paid close attention to our statement near the bottom of the description of the 1983 copper cent, which we added into the second and third editions, where it states, “Of course it goes without saying that this error could have also occurred in the Denver Mint so all 1983-D cents should also be checked.”

Young said that with the support of his wife, Barbara, (who not only puts up with his hobby of searching boxes of circulation change but also counts the coins and wraps them after his searches), that he has been busy cherry-picking circulation change ever since his stepmother found a 1995 doubled-die cent in change in the year of issue (which he parlayed into 47 specimens when he went back to the location where she found it and he was able to buy 50 BU rolls to search).

It was then he realized there is an abundance of errors and varieties in Lincoln series worth searching for. He said that in 2006, the first edition of Strike it Rich With Pocket Change was published and that reference and later editions have been an invaluable help.

He said, “That book prompted me to buy a small scale and I began weighing all 1982-D and 1983 P and D cents.” (No 1982-D Small Date cents in the solid copper alloy are known and is assuredly what Young is looking for there.)

The cents struck from 1963 through about mid 1982 are of a solid brass composition made up of 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. They weigh 3.1 grams. The cents struck from about mid 1982 to the present are struck on planchets made up of a solid zinc core (with a trace of copper) that are barrel plated with pure copper and weigh 2.5 grams. The only exceptions are five commemorative Lincoln cent designs struck in 2009 in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. The 209 circulation strikes (Denver and Philadelphia) were struck on copper plated zinc planchets while the Denver and Philadelphia satin finish uncirculated mint set coins and San Francisco proof set collector versions were stuck on traditional solid copper alloy planchets for commemorative purposes (opening up the door for even more errors yet to be found).

The finder of the second example of the 1983 Philadelphia copper cent submitted it to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) of Newport, Calif, for authentication and encapsulation. They noted on the holder that it was “1983 1c Mint Error/Stk on Pre 1983 CU Plan/Transitional Wrong Plan.” I expect Young’s coin will be designated in the similar manner.

In our book, Allen and I estimated that these could be worth $15,000 or more but that is of course just a guess. Only one coming up for auction will give us some idea of true value.

It should be noted that Young has provided a very convincing story and even more convincing photographs of which we have little doubt as to their accuracy. However, to be sure, Young is going to drive the coin up to me for examination. I will follow up on my findings shortly thereafter.

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