The Lincoln cents of the 1920s are a much better group than many have believed. It is hard to explain why the 1920s Lincoln cents were overlooked, but the big four (1909-S VDB, 1909-S, 1914-D and 1931-S) always seemed to take the spotlight away from any other dates.
Even when you got beyond the big four and started to consider other better Lincoln cents, the focus still would not include dates from the 1920s.
The general overlooking of the 1920s dates extends to the 1923-S. With almost no recognition, the 1923-S now ranks up there with some of the most expensive regular dates in MS-65 at $17,500.
The 1922-D is a case in which a Lincoln cent was made in Denver but not Philadelphia. Workers at the assorted mints were working 12-hour shifts producing silver dollars in an emergency effort to replace some 270 million silver dollars melted under the provisions of the Pittman Act. Everything else was put on hold.
The desperate nature of things can be seen in the fact that both Philadelphia and San Francisco produced no Lincoln cents in 1922, and the Denver mintage was just 7,160,000. There had not been a total that low since the 1915-S. But while the 1915-S was low, the 1915 Philadelphia and Denver totals combined topped 51 million.
In 1922, however, that 7,160,000 was the total cent production for the country for the year. The 1922-D should have been taken more seriously, but it was stuck in the shadow of the 1922 with no “D.” This happened because some residue clogged the mintmark on a few dies, and in the later stages this resulted in coins with no trace of a mintmark. It was not a Philly 1922.
There were allegedly three dies involved with the second being the one where no “D” is found at all. Those coins are very tough with even a G-4 at $700. An MS-60 is $10,500 while a virtually impossible MS-65 is at $160,000. By comparison, the 1922-D did not seem all that significant.
There was a collector named Maurice Scharlack who, according to Q. David Bowers, managed to accumulate thousands of examples of the 1922-D. That was decades ago, however, and the hoard has long since been sold.
Today the 1922-D lists for $23.50 in G-4, up from $8 since 1998. In MS-60 it is currently at $105, up from $65 in 1998. Considering the age and mintage, $105 looks to be a good price. However, the real story of the 1922-D in recent times has been MS-65. Back in 1998 it listed for $490 in MS-65. Today that price is up to $2,350.
The numbers suggest that the 1922-D is one of a number of dates from the 1920s that people had better start taking much more seriously. It’s not a rarity, but it is a tough date.