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1974 Aluminum cent recent appearance, fact or fiction?

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I was reading a PCGS post on the appearance of a 1974 aluminum cent at a local Maryland show. Someone posted that they were issued in roll quantity? I'm not educated on this coin. Is that true that the mintage was in the hundreds of thousands? I had assumed there were only a handful struck and presented to Congressmen for approval, whereby several disappeared during the presentation. In addition, I had read that this coin was not legal to own. Anybody got the scoop?



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If the post is as you are describing it then either the poster is mistaken or someone is pulling a joke on someone else. I don't believe it, either.

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Great question! Gives me something I can spend a few hours researching. First book I pulled up was Breens ENCY.


He said that mint made 1.5 million aluminum cents in the fall of 1973 dated 1974 at the Philadelphia mint. The vending industry complained about this because they would have update thier countergitting devices(how many vending machines do you realy see that accept one cent pieces?).

The mint theen scraped the idea and recalled all the coins. the counted each coin all the coins individually before melting them. 12 of them were lost or were not given back by Congressmen and other official recipients. So inaddition to the example that is in the Smithsonian there are 12 in private hands.


As i get more infomation I will post on this. CHRIS


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Found thi editorial from COIN WORLD that mentions the chance of a few showing up in change. CHRIS


Here is the link to the page


7-16-01 COIN WORLD






Let collectors own aluminum cents

By: Bill Gibbs



Federal laws dictating what coins private collectors may legally own and what coins are subject to confiscation are often difficult to understand, particularly when laws seem to be selectively enforced.


To understand what we mean by selective enforcement, read our story this week on the 1933 Saint-Gaudens; as those of you who have read our coverage on this subject this year know, the government has dropped its stand - that no one can own this coin - to permit this particular specimen, and this specimen only, to be privately owned.


Now consider the following historical event:


Following years of rising copper prices, the cost to make a 1-cent coin had risen over its face value; it cost the United States Mint $1.06 for every 100 cents made. While the obvious decision was to adopt a new, less expensive composition for the coin, the Constitution gave authority to regulate coinage to the legislative branch, Congress, and not to the administrative branch, of which the Mint is part. Mint officials approached Congress, explained the dilemma and sought a law that, when enacted, would permit them to change the cent's composition.


In the meantime, while Congress debated the issue, Mint officials began experimenting with alternative compositions until finding a desirable alternative to the copper cent. To show members of Congress what a coin made of the proposed new composition would be like, Mint officials struck examples (before receiving authority to do so for circulation) and distributed them to senators and representatives.


Some time later, examples of these experimental pieces began showing up on the coin collector market. What did the Mint officials do? Did they threaten to confiscate the experimental pieces or turn a blind eye to the secondary market for the coins?


The answer depends on which era, for what we just described has happened twice: in 1856, when the Mint sought to replace the all-copper Coronet large cent with a smaller copper-nickel Flying Eagle cent, and in 1973, when Mint officials produced aluminum pattern versions of the 1974 Lincoln cent.


Mint officials in the 1850s and later not only did not threaten legal action against anyone selling or buying an 1856 Flying Eagle cent pattern, they made more for collectors! In fact, the number of restrikes probably outnumbers the 634 pieces that the Treasury archives reveal were distributed to members of Congress and other VIPs.


That's not what happened in 1973 and 1974 after Mint officials distributed examples of the aluminum cent to members of Congress in anticipation that they soon would have authority to strike billions of identical cents. As the copper price crisis passed, however, so did the need to strike the aluminum cents.


The collector outcome was also different. Mint officials began asking that those to whom they had distributed the aluminum cents return them. A few were returned to the Mint, while one congressional staff member had the courage to give an example in his possession to the Smithsonian Institution for the National Numismatic Collection. Many who received the coins said they treated them like any other cent, tossing them aside in desk drawers or misplacing them. As it became clear that some of the aluminum cents were not going to be returned, Mint officials began saying that the pieces had not been officially issued and therefore were subject to confiscation.


Two actual events, virtually identical except for the outcome, at least to our admittedly layman's eyes. So why is the 1974 aluminum cent pattern, distributed to members of Congress, subject to confiscation while the 1856 Flying Eagle cent pattern, also given to members of Congress, trades freely and regularly? And recent revelations that Mint officials acknowledged internally in the 1970s that some examples of the 1974 aluminum cent could have entered circulation mistakenly through normal distribution channels cast further doubt on the Mint's stand.


This selective enforcement is unfair.


U.S. coinage history is replete with examples of coins once considered illegal that are now legal or at least are permitted to be traded (the gold coins banned from 1933 to 1974, 1942 cent patterns, 1804 Draped Bust dollars).


With recent reports that several 1974 aluminum cents have surfaced, including several allegedly found in circulation as Mint officials apparently predicted, a test case is all but inevitable. Like the government's case against the 1933 double eagle, until it changed its mind, any court test will be expensive and paid for by taxpayers, including collectors.


It is now time for the Mint to look back at its own history, acknowledge that the 1974 aluminum cents are identical cousins to the 1856 Flying Eagle cents, and drop its stand that the 1974 cents should be confiscated.


Let collectors own them.




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Absolutely great information!!! Thanks Chris!! 893applaud-thumb.gif

Now the question is, would the government confiscate the coin if it appears?


I remember a story way back when. This is second hand, so I don't know if it's actually true. Back in the late 1970's, Superior Stamp and Coin bought a rare note that was not authorized to be issued by the Treasury. Apparently it was an experimental note that escaped the Bureau of Engraving. The BOE knew of it's existance but never went after the owner. Well, Superior buys the note, knowing the company would have a tough time selling the note for major money since there was a 'cloud' hanging over it. So the company went to the local congressman at the time, and asked him to sponsor an innocuous congressional bill allowing public ownship of the rare note. The congressional bill was one of those zillions of bills attached to the bugdet or some other montrous piece of legislation, and it got passed. Now Superior is free to sell the experimental note at auction, where it sold at upwards of $250,000. Maybe this will happen to this coin.




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There was a story some years back in Coin World that when the press that struck these coins was disassembled that many aluminum cents were found in it. These, too, were destroyed but it does lead one to wonder how many could escape accidently.

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Who knows what would happen with the Treasure Dept. They confiscate 1933 $20's but, for some reason, don't worry about 1933 $10's. They also let the 1913 Nickels, which were mint-made FAKES, sell to the public. I just don't see any consistancy with their treatment of these coins and notes so what actually would happen is anyones guess.



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1) Wait until Bill Gibbs throws a hissy fit since you are violating Coin World's copyright.


2) The fakes outnumber the real probably 10,000-to-1.

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893whatthe.gif What is a copyright? I gave them credit where I got infomation from and i provided a link. CHRIS


Over on the other forums there was a discussion about the 1959-D "Mule Cent". I don't remember the exact specifics, but I took about 250 select words out of something like a 1,600 word online article and posted then with a critique of what the person was saying. Of those 250 words something like 150 were quotes from others and reports that Coin World was able to "take and use" due to the Fair Use Act.


Well, this didn't sit well with Billy Gibbs and he complained to CU about it threatening a lawsuit. That didn't sit well with me. I complained about the heavy handed tactics to Billy Gibbs and he basically told me that is the way it is and they just are a bunch of heavy handed jerks to everyone because they can't be bothered to only go after the people who steal from their site, but rather just be jerks to everyone.


At the same time I questioned why they don't go after the scumbag dealers and ACG that advertises in his so precious rag. Blah, blah, blah not my problem talk to someone else.


That was the last time I ever purchased their scumbag dealer promoting and heavy handed jerk employing rag.


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TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 107.

Sec. 107. - Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use




Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -




the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;




the nature of the copyrighted work;




the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and




the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.



The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors




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You would think they'de be pleased to be quoted. I doubt anyone would drop their subscription because they can, on ocassion, read snippets of articles from their paper here.


File what they did to Greg and what they could potentially do to anyone doing the same under, "Lame".

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The Secret Service being what it is, they'll probably go after Greg for illegally handling a story about the 1974 aluminum cent smile.gif


Seriously, while I agree that the SS is really inconsistent on patterns and lotsa other coins, I will say that they do seem to pick their spots and stick with 'em. We know 1933 $20s are "bad". We know 19th century pattern coinage is OK. We know 1913 nickels are OK. Even Buffalos smile.gif

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The 1974 aluminum cents are legitimate. I was the first to break the story in Numismatic News in 2001 when one surfaced in the hands of a Texas collector. 1.5 million were minted, and all but a handful were melted, but no "roll quantities" were ever available. We published exclusive photos of the coin and it also appears on the cover of my book, the 6th edition of The Official Price Guide to Mint Errors.


Since reporting it, I have seen one other, on sale and display at a coin show in Arizona and I know where a third one is. There is a report of one that has a heavy test scratch across the obverse, which may be the third one.


The first cent came to the collector through his father, a policeman in the House Office Building. He saw a Congressman drop the coin and tried to return it. The man refused, saying "Keep it."


The coins have the same legal status as the 1933 $20 gold as far as the government is concerned - Not legally issued. However a good case can be made that the Mint did almost nothing to recover the coins passed out to Congress and samples were passed around a room full of people at the 1974 ANA Convention with no quantity control.


An announcment of the sale of one of the coins is expected shortly.




Alan Herbert - Contributing Editor - Numismatic News

The AnswerMan

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