1974 1C J-2151 (Proof)

Series: Patterns - PR

Victor David Brenner
19.00 millimeters
0.93 grams
Auction Record:
Major Varieties

Current Auctions - PCGS Graded
Current Auctions - NGC Graded
For Sale Now at Collectors Corner - PCGS Graded
For Sale Now at Collectors Corner - NGC Graded
Jaime Hernandez:

The 1974 Aluminum cent is considered to be one of the crown jewels in the Lincoln cent series, and maybe even in numismatics. There is only one confirmed 1974 Aluminum cent held in public hands. The coin is graded PCGS MS62.

Perhaps, Mary Brooks former Director of the U.S. Mint describes it best, “Even the word aluminum gives me a chill."

The Year 1973
1973 was a very turbulent year for the U.S. Mint. One cent coins were in huge demand in our monetary system. To make matters worse, the U.S. Mint was spending more than once cent to produce Lincoln cents for circulation, this was mainly due to the escalating price of copper. The U.S. Mints responded by giving the one cent coin a complete transformation.

At the time, Mary Brooks Director of the U.S. Mint was assigned with the daunting task of orchestrating the production of over 1.5 million aluminum cents. At the same time, the vending machine corporations and copper mining companies were lobbying against the change in the metal composition of the one cent coins.

1974 Aluminum Cent Trial Strikes Brooks still went ahead and ordered 1974 Aluminum trial strikes Lincoln cents to be produced, so that the coins can be presented to government officials. There are several estimates on how many trial strikes were given to government officials. These estimates range anywhere from 16 and up to about 40 examples.

Several years later, Brooks confirmed that most of the trial strikes were returned and destroyed by the Mint, while she did admit that a few were never returned. The FBI was also notified of these missing coins and the number provided to them was that 14 coins were missing.

To this date, all 14 trial strikes have yet to be recovered, with the exception of one example which surfaced in the media in 2001. On July 2005, the same coin was confirmed to exist and encapsulated by a third party grading company. This same example is now graded PCGS MS62, also believed to be the Toven Specimen.

Albert Toven Albert Toven was an officer at the U.S. Capitol. Officer Toven found the coin right after it was dropped by a government official who attended the hearing on the production of 1974 Aluminum cents. Officer Toven then approached the government official and offered him what Toven believed to be a dime, which the official had just dropped. However, the government official told Toven to keep the coin. When Toven got home he noticed the coin was a cent and not a dime. This is how the only example in private hands is believed to exist. The second example is held in the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian example was donated by a government official who also received one of the trial strike examples from Brooks.

1974 Aluminum Cents a Nightmare At one time, Mary Brooks described the production of the 1974 Aluminum cents as a nightmare, as the news of 1974 Aluminum cents made public headlines and brought a lot of negative attention to the U.S. Mint. Furthermore, trying to retrieve the coins became a nightmare on its own.

The 1974 Aluminum cent is unquestionably, one of the most controversial coins which has ever been struck by the U.S. Mint!