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Bidding on 1922-D cent varieties and die pairs

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The 1922-D cent is not necessarily rare as far as mintage goes, with 7,160,000. But minting of this cent was subpar with a clogged “D” on some cents, leading to these varieties (or die pairings): Die pairs #1, #3, and #4 produce weak or no-D cents. Die pair #2, the most desirable for collectors, is the “no-D” variety, has a strong reverse, and is also called “1922 Plain.”

As no 1922 cents were minted at the Philadelphia facility, this “Plain” takes on added significance.

If you would like to know more about how these die pairs came about, read this excellent article on the Lincoln Cent Resource website. My column here is how to identify the types and avoid defaced ones when bidding online.

First, let’s focus on die pair #2, because some auctioneers describe their lots as “Plain” (when they are not) because the consignor did in collections. PCGS Coin Facts has excellent photos of what this pairing should look like:

The mint mark is missing entirely in this coveted variety, and the reverse shows lines in the wheat ears with a stronger strike.

This was described by the consignor in a auction as “Die Pair #2, Plain,” but the auctioneer, being ethical, noticed marks where the “D” should be, and so recommended bidding as if a regular 1922-D.

As you can see, this cent has been altered. This is the most common issue in online bidding on raw 1922 Plain cents. If any mark appears where the “D” should be, don’t bid.

This is a “faint” or “ghost” example on a common worn 1922-D cent:

The auctioneer, again being responsible, described this as a 1922-D cent. But some would falsely call a cent of this condition as “weak.”

The seller claims this is a “weak” example in a recent auction:

This cent at best is VF; compare it with an AU one from PCGS Coin Facts and you can see why I am not bidding:

Even in “Weak” examples, you should barely see the “D.” Not so in the above case.

Then there is a question about a very worn 1922-D cent v. a 1922-D “Weak” or “Plain.”

The auctioneer defined this as a 1922-D “Weak” cent, resisting the urge to call it a more expensive “Plain” variety:

Some collectors would bid on this and claim in “Plain.” In die pairs #1 and #3, the second “2” on the date is weaker than the first “2.”  Not so in this case. The condition is too worn to identify Die Pair #4. I think it is a worn 1922-D. In any case, I am not bidding.

My recommendation when bidding online is to do so only when you are dealing with an expert numismatic auctioneer or on a holdered coin, as in this example offered by Strawser Auctions:

To learn more about Lincoln cent varieties and values, check out Q. David Bowers “A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents.”

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