NGC Grades Rare 1982 Cent

by on February 13, 2017 · 22 comments

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) has authenticated and graded a 1982 Small Date Lincoln cent that was struck in bronze at the U.S. Mint in Denver. It is the only known coin of its type, and is attributed as a mint error.

1982-D Small Date bronze cent

1982-D Small Date bronze cent, the only known example

In 1982, the U.S. Mint altered its cents from bronze to brass-plated zinc and changed their bust, lettering and date. These refinements resulted in seven distinct varieties issued for circulation that year:

  • 1982 Large Date Bronze,
  • 1982 Small Date Bronze,
  • 1982-D Large Date Bronze,
  • 1982 Large Date Brass-Plated Zinc,
  • 1982 Small Date Brass-Plated Zinc,
  • 1982-D Large Date Brass-Plated Zinc and
  • 1982-D Small Date Brass-Plated Zinc.

There was no 1982-D Small Date cent issued or known to exist in bronze until this piece was discovered.

"While one could argue that this piece is the eighth variety of circulation issue 1982 cents, NGC has attributed it as a mint error since it was undoubtedly struck in error from a leftover planchet and unintentionally released into circulation," NGC said in a statement.

The cent’s owner contacted variety and error specialist Ken Potter, who revealed its existence in an article published by Numismatic News. It was then submitted to NGC for certification. The cent is graded NGC AU 58 and labeled as a "discovery coin."

For information about NGC and their grading services, visit

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

R.F.K. February 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm

Brass-plated zinc ?? Here I always thought they were copper? Huh??

R.F.K. February 13, 2017 at 8:53 pm

What’s it worth???

M. B. February 13, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Fascinating…! Wonder what that’s worth??

Seth Riesling February 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm

The Lincoln cents after 1982 are only 2.5 percent copper & 97.5 percent zinc. Most Americans still think they are 95 percent copper. The zinc industry makes a fortune off the billions of cents produced each year by the US Mint.


R.F.K. February 13, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Seth, I don’t understand why this article says “brass”.

Seth Riesling February 13, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Brass is the copper & zinc alloy. Bronze was one alloy used earlier containing copper, zinc & tin. Of course, in 1943 the Mint used zinc-plated steel.


Richard February 13, 2017 at 10:47 pm

It is easy to tell the difference for 1982; the old cents weigh 3.11 grams the new “zlincolns” 2.5. Plenty of both were made that year so this ’82-D s.d. is the only rarity. I suppose the Mint changed the composition mid-year to avoid the heavier ones being accidentally made in ’83. But a few ’83s and one ’89-D are known.

Incidentally bronze is copper and tin, brass is copper and zinc, as Seth noted. But that confuses things since tin was actually taken out of cents in ’62 (to the best of my knowledge nobody collects that year by the two composition varieties). So to be precise, from 1962-82 the cent was 95% copper and 5% zinc thus technically making it “brass”. Since ’82 it has been 2.5% copper which just plates the 97.5% zinc. The Wikipedia article, “Penny (United States coin)” goes into more detail on its historical composition.

Seth Riesling February 13, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Richard –

You have it right, except the 1959-1962 alloy used was 95 percent copper with a mixture of 5 percent tin & zinc included in the alloy. In 2009 the Mint did the cents that year for the Lincoln cent centennial in the original alloy from 1909 in the Mint sets & Proof sets only (not for the circulation cents) which was 95 percent copper with a mixture of 5 percent zinc & tin. The Lincoln cent has gone through more alloy changes than any other US Mint coin in its 108 years. They even used recycled WWII bronze ammo cartridges melted down for the 1944-1946 cents!
Many collectors don’t pay much attention to the “lowly” Lincoln cent, but there are many rarities in the series.


vadim February 14, 2017 at 1:50 am

Any word on how the owner noticed the difference with a naked eye?

joera February 14, 2017 at 5:31 am

So there is a “unicorn” out there? The owner knows his Lincolns!
As far as the coin’s worth? I think right now it’s hard to tell because it is the only one and has not yet been put up for sale. So it’s worth what someone will pay for this one of a kind. That is till someone else finds “the unicorn!” And that is just my thought on that.

Danny Morano February 14, 2017 at 7:54 am

Where there is one, their could be more. Check your 1982 Lincoln pennys. Especially when the estimated worth is revealed.
DrWho 7

Shawn February 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Hi I got a gold looking Roosevelt dime 2003. Do any one known about it

Munzen February 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Shawn – while this is really a coin news and discussion site rather than a values site, my first thought would be to get a sensitive scale and weigh the coin. It it comes in at 2.27 gm (+/-), you most likely have an ordinary dime that’s been altered in some way. E.g. it could have been plated, exposed to heat or chemicals, etc. If the weight’s substantially different from ~2.27 gm, you should have it examined in person.

chuck February 15, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Seth Riesling,
I’ve always been interested in these “odd Strikes” i.e. 1913 liberty 5 cent, copper 1 cent in 1943, steel 1 cent in 1944 etc. Always thought it might be rogue mint employee(s).
So, it is interesting that the US Mint site shows sales of 924 ATB silver proof sets as of 2/12/2017 since this set can not be ordered by us until 2/16/2017. The set, item number 17AQ, would be item #252 of the 255 products they show on the week ending report of 2/12/2017.
Sure they would say: “just a mistake” but makes one wonder if this is why some items with few offered are so hard to buy from the mint. Must be nice to be special and order early.

Vadim February 15, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Check your pennies. Lol

Seth Riesling February 16, 2017 at 3:36 pm

chuck –

The exciting thing about this coin & others you mentioned is that they were found in circulation or original bank rolls, bags etc. This Lincoln cent was circulated (AU-58) & picked out by a collector who knew what to look for! If there is one found so far in circulation, then there could be more. Exiting for sure to see what this first one discovered sells for at auction.
As to your question about the new ATB silver Proof set sales number, it is either a mistake or the Mint put the figure there for a dealer in the Mint’s Bulk Purchaser program bulk on Feb. 12 (they can’t get them early, but can place orders for a few common sets & coins that are not limited mintage basically) or it could be the customers who are in an “Enrollment” for this product whose orders are processed for payment a few days early for credit card approval, but they do not get them any earlier than those who order on first day of issue Feb. 16. It is a bit confusing, but I can assure you that nobody (not even the President) can get the coins before the official first day of issue at noon Eastern time.

Happy collecting Chuck!


Cheech February 28, 2017 at 7:06 pm

I have 5 bulk mayonnaise juggs full of small date 1982’s. WTF. Wish i would of known years ago

Ivan March 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm

I think i found the second 1982 D small date copper … I weight it … it weights 3.1. Can isend you some pictures … so you can help me to know what do i have to do next …. tnks

Michelle klebanoff May 9, 2017 at 12:25 am

So i have a 1982 small date no mint mark penny that weighs 3.0. Is there any info for the phillie mint , also have 3 1982 d coppers are they worth anything truly.

Jarrod June 28, 2017 at 10:57 pm

I found a second one 1982 D small date weighing 3.08g
Advice please?

Michael November 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm

How rare could the 1982 D small date copper be. I have 3 that weigh 3.1 Gm’s. I’m almost 100 % sure they are small dates. I compared them with other small and large date 1982 and 1982 D penny’s that weigh 2.5 Gm’s.

Jeffery Hall December 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

I believe I have one of these coins weight, mint, and small date are all exact. Who can I contact to validate this?

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