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Rare 1974-D Aluminum Penny Returned to Mint Sparks Hope for Retrieving 1974-P

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In 1974, The U.S. Mint created an aluminum Lincoln cent and distributed a few sample coins to government officials for consideration of the alternative material. While in the hands of an unnamed congressman for review, one of the elusive Lincolns fell from his possession and has yet to be recovered.

Since then, another of the same coin found its way into the home of a San Diego, CA collector. Randall Lawrence, the son of Harry Lawrence, former Denver Mint Deputy Superintendent, inherited the coin, amongst others, after his father's death in the 1980's. Shortly after moving to San Diego in 2013, Lawrence was ready to part with the coins and decided to sell them to Michael McConnell, the owner of La Jolla Coin Shop.

McConnell had the coin authenticated and certified after suspecting it was worth more than originally thought. Once McConnell learned of his mistake, he contacted Lawrence to disclose the coin's rarity and together the men struck a deal to auction the coin and donate $100,000 USD to Funders Together to End Homelessness along with various other grant makers McConnell is an active member of.

The U.S. Mint learned of the item being placed for auction and immediately put into action efforts to regain their property. The seizure and stalling would go on for years, coming to a halt on March 17, 2016 when the men returned the coin to the U.S. Attorney's Office in downtown San Diego.

Upon hearing the deposition, which states the coin was never meant to be released, the men felt it only right to return the coin to its rightful owners.

The 1974-D return has now sparked hope for the U.S. Mint to recover the other coin dropped by the congressman during that same year, the 1974-P.

"The government draws no distinction between the piece recovered this week and any other 1974-dated aluminum cent piece that may exist." Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint's Office of Corporate Communications, said March 22. "A limited number of 1974-dated aluminum cent pieces were produced, all were withheld from circulation, and none were lawfully issued for release as legal tender. If at some point we are presented with specific information concerning the whereabouts of any other 1974-dated aluminum cent piece, we will take the appropriate next steps to retrieve it as well."

Until then, it seems as though this coin may be on the verge of becoming the next Double Eagle....

Did you like this? Read Tips For Starting Your First Coin Collection.

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