All 1922-D No D cents are not equal
Strong Reverse version best target for
By Paul Gilkes
cent production at the Denver Mint in 1922
yielded coins that included a regular strike
with full D Mint mark, a weak D Mint mark or the
D completely missing.
Images courtesy of HeritageAuctions.com. Even
though the 1922-D Lincoln, No D, Strong Reverse
cent (Die Pair No. 2) variety is easily
identifiable, it is still strongly recommended
that collectors purchase only pieces that have
been certified and encapsulated by one of the
major grading services.
Of the three major die pairs known for the Weak
D and No D varieties, the pairing that generates
the highest premium is the 1922-D Lincoln, No D,
Strong Reverse cent, or the Die Pair 2 issue.
The current issue of Coin World's Coin Values
lists the Die Pair 2 issue at $850 in Good 4,
$3,500 in Extremely Fine 40, $7,000 in About
Uncirculated 50, $12,000 in Mint State 60 brown,
$35,000 in MS-63 red and brown, and $175,000 in
A Lincoln cent with a missing Mint mark
ordinarily would not attract collector notice;
none of the billions of Lincoln cents struck at
the Philadelphia Mint since 1909 have borne a
Mint mark. In 1922, however, cent production was
limited to the Denver Mint, and since normally
the Denver coins bear a D Mint mark, 1922 cents
without a Mint mark caught collectors'
attention. A total of 7.16 million Lincoln cents
were struck at the Denver Mint in 1922.
Origin of the problem
In an article in the July 1982 issue of The
Numismatist, the monthly journal of the American
Numismatic Association, the staff of the ANA
Certification Service (or ANACS) offered
explanations for how the varieties occurred and
detailed the specific characteristics for each
of the die pairs used to strike 1922 cents with
Weak D or Missing D.
According to the article, the origins of the Die
Pair 2 variety arose when two dies clashed (came
together without benefit of a planchet between),
imparting details from the obverse die to the
reverse and vice versa.
The obverse die was polished or filed to remove
the clash marks, and in the process, all
remnants of the D Mint mark were removed as
well, according to the 1982 ANACS assessment.
The original reverse die apparently shattered as
a result of the clashing, according to ANACS,
and was replaced with a fresh one; hence, the
According to the 1982 ANACS study, die pairs 1
and 3 are the results of "die deterioration and
die filling." Both No D and Weak D coins were
produced by these die pairs.
Michael Fahey, currently senior numismatist for
ANACS (now under private ownership) in Denver,
wrote about the 1922-D cent varieties in the
Feb. 4 and March 3, 2008, installments of his
Coin World column, "Detecting Counterfeits."
The Die Pair 2 obverse, according to Fahey,
wasn't as worn as the Die Pair 1 and 3 obverses,
and since the Die Pair 2 obverse was paired with
a new reverse, the resulting strikes are far
superior to the other two.
Die Pair 2 diagnostics
Fahey said diagnostics for Die Pair 2 make it
easy to differentiate from the other two
On the Die Pair 2 obverse, trust in the motto in
god we trust is particularly sharp, while the
letters of in god we are mushy.
"The second 2 in the date is thinner and sharper
than the first three digits in the date," Fahey
writes. "The first five letters in liberty
display varying sharpness, while the ty is
sharper and clearer than the rest of the
Also on the obverse of Die Pair 2, the
truncation where Lincoln's jacket meets the
field is not ragged or missing, but does exhibit
some minor weakness from die wear, Fahey said.
Q. David Bowers, in A Guide Book of Lincoln
Cents, advises collectors to avoid cents from
the first and third die pairs.
"The most desired issue is from the die pair No.
2 ... with the D mintmark deliberately effaced
(in the process of removing some die damage that
occurred in the coining press)."
Bowers elaborates, and writes that it is thought
that the D Mint mark was completely removed from
the obverse die of Die Pair 2 "when it was
re-lapped or resurfaced to reduce surface
roughness," to extend the die life even longer
after its excessive use.
Because of its high premium and the threat by
counterfeiters to create the rarity by manually
removing the D Mint mark from struck coins or
striking outright counterfeits, it is highly
suggested that purported 1922-D Lincoln, No D
cents be authenticated by one of the major
third-party grading services.