1922 No D Lincoln Cent

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Posted by: John Roberts, on 12/6/2007, in category "Grading and Authentication"
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Abstract: A popular variety that is subject to forgery and occasional misattribution.

1922 No D Lincoln Cent
Die Pair 2 Strong Reverse
 
 
One of the most widely collected US coin series is the Lincoln Cent. One of the most eagerly sought dates is the 1922 with no mintmark. As a general rule, great demand equals great value.
All 1922 cents were struck at the Denver Mint. There are several dies that produced cents with little or no trace of the D mintmark visible. The pieces most valued by collectors are from the marriage designated as Die Pair 2. It is also commonly referred to as the Strong Reverse variety. Several diagnostic features will aid in confirming an example is not one of the three “Weak D” varieties or an altered coin.
Die Pair 2 may be identified in part by the total absence of any trace of the D mintmark. The second 2 in the date is clearly defined and strong. The digit 9 is somewhat mushy. The lower front portion of Lincoln’s coat is weak and shallow from the same heavy die polishing that effaced the mintmark from under the date. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST has a distinctive look as well. The letters of IN GOD are very mushy, even on uncirculated examples, and spread out toward the rim. The word WE is stronger and more clearly defined, but still has a decidedly worn appearance. There is an obvious and marked contrast between these first three words in the motto and the last, TRUST. Its letters are clearly defined and separated from the rim.
 
         
Images courtesy of Stack’s Rare Coins
An uncirculated example of Die Pair 2, the Strong Reverse 1922 No D Lincoln Cent
 
This obverse is paired with the strong reverse. At a glance, the reverse would appear to be two full letter grades higher than its obverse. This variety is listed as FS-401 in The Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and JT Stanton. Pricing information may be found in all major price guides.
 
Date and front of Lincoln’s coat on a genuine Die Pair 2 example
 
Coins that display little or no trace of the mintmark and reverse detail of equal or lesser strength than the obverse are typically from one of the three “Weak D” die pairs. Die Pair 1 may be identified by weakness in the second 2 in the date and heavy wear on the letters of E PLURIBUS UNUM. Most examples have a diagonal crack thru the upper left of the O in ONE. Die Pair 3 has similar weakness on the second 2 and a weak reverse with abnormal width on the lower left of the O in ONE. Most examples have a reverse rotated slightly counter-clockwise. Die Pair 4 may be identified by the unusual spread on the lower front of Lincoln’s coat, presenting an almost ragged appearance. The reverse is roughly as mushy as the obverse and unlike other “Weak D” die pairs, it is rotated slightly clockwise. All three die pairs have about the same retail value. Current estimates may be found in A Guide Book of United States Coins, commonly known as the Redbook.
Any purported specimen with strong features on both the obverse and reverse is very suspect. The most commonly encountered numismatic forgeries are alterations of varying degrees of skill.
 
        
Images of altered coins by John Roberts
Two fairly skillfully executed forgeries
The piece on the left was produced by removing the D mintmark,
The one on the right is an example of an altered date
 
Some examples are produced by removing the mintmark from a 1922-D Lincoln Cent. Others are made by altering the date. Counterfeits of this nature are encountered at virtually every major coin show. Authentication and grading by competent professionals is highly recommended.

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