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All 1922-D No D cents are not equal
Strong Reverse version best target for collectors
By Paul Gilkes

Lincoln 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 MS-65 red.

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 strong reverse.

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 obverses.

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 legend."

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.

 



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