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Rare 1982-D Small Date copper found

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Newly found 1982-D Small date copper cent.

After 34 years, a 1982-D Small Date cent struck on a 95-percent copper-alloy planchet has finally been found and confirmed by me. A Minnesota collector who wishes to remain anonymous discovered it while sorting through 1982 cents by weight to save the copper-alloy pieces for their melt value.

Copper-alloy cents weigh 3.1 grams and the copper-plated zinc cents weigh 2.5 grams.

In effect, what used to be a seven-coin set of varieties for the 1982 cents has just grown to an eight-coin set. Where there is one, there are usually more so I expect additional reports to come in though I expect the coin to continue to be rare.

The 1982 varieties involve the so-called Large Date and Small Date die modification and the two different types of planchets used that year, solid copper-alloy and copper-plated zinc. Between the two planchet types and two styles of dies used, eight different combinations were possible between the Philadelphia and Denver mints involved for business strike production.

The Mint switched over from striking copper-alloy to copper-plated zinc planchets sometime in mid-1982 as a cost saving measure – the copper-alloy planchets were too expensive to strike and the Mint was losing money.

But it didn’t end there. The Mint had trouble striking the new planchets with dies bearing the old die design, (used for a number of years with only the date changing), so they modified the dies to make them more suitable to strike the copper- plated zinc cents.

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Large Date 1982-D copper cent

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Small Date 1982-D copper cent shows the “2” quite a bit further from the rim than the large date version.

This modification resulted in what collectors called the “Small Date” and they naturally dubbed the old style design “Large Date.” When all was said and done, it appeared there were seven distinct varieties though some of us continued to believe that the eighth possible variety surely had to exist even if rare. There were Small and Large Date varieties struck on both types of planchets with only the Denver minted Small Date copper cent seemingly never having been minted.

According to the discoverer, when copper hit $4.50 per pound, “I decided that pennies had entered the realm of “not good enough to keep, but too good to spend” and he began hoarding the pre-1982 cents.

He said, “In the beginning I kept none of the 1982 [cents] since I had no way to separate zinc from copper. Then I remembered seeing a balance scale offered long ago by Virg Marshall III – The Penny Merchant. It was a simple see-saw, but I wasn’t sure how it worked. I bought some craft sticks and round toothpicks at the Dollar Store and proceeded to make my own. The trick is in the placement of the fulcrum, which is nothing but a pyramid of toothpicks, so a copper cent will tip the scale but a zinc one won’t. It worked great. It was fast and accurate. I began weighing every 1982 I found.”

On Nov. 23 he searched a $50 bag of cents that yielded the 1982-D Small Date copper-alloy cent. He said it was in the last handful of coins in the bag, saying that he had taken a break from coin sorting in recent weeks and if not for a snowstorm (and nothing better to do) he never would have bought that bag. (He buys his cents from banks before they are shipped out for counting, rolling and being boxed.)

He said, “I believe there are more 1982-D Small Dates in bronze [actually brass Editor] out there, dozens, perhaps hundreds, but probably not thousands. If there were thousands of them it shouldn’t have taken 34 years for the first one to surface.”

The hard-core copper hoarders use sorting machines to separate copper from zinc so any of this rarity in those hoards are lost at least for now and may very well be melted in time.

The reason the Mint changed from what collectors call a Large Date to the Small Date is because zinc does not strike up like copper or a predominantly copper alloy. The Mint struck the copper hard and fast but quickly learned in 1982 that the strike was not satisfactory on the coins minted on the copper-plated zinc planchets. They had to slow down the strike by lengthening the squeeze, which satisfactorily filled the dies. This meant production numbers were down and the only way to rectify the problem was to modify the dies. The “Small Date” moniker is actually something of a misnomer as not only is the date smaller and more delicate but so is LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST and almost assuredly other less noticeable design differences in the portrait. This change meant there was less date, motto and legend to fill during the strike and they could crank up the numbers again by hitting the planchets faster and reducing the length of squeeze. There have been other theories thrown around for the design modifications but none have been verified by the Mint while those noted here are the exact reasons the Mint cited.

So now is the time to start searching! Some veteran collectors are so good at differentiating the solid copper alloy from the copper-plated cents by sight alone that they can very often tell the difference just by color while even examining just the reverse – I know I can 99 percent of the time. But for all practical purposes it is best to weigh the 1982-D Small Date cents to see if you have one of the rare 3.1 gram copper-alloy specimens. You can use the fulcrum style scale described above or you can buy a digital scale – an option that has gotten much cheaper in recent years. I paid over $125 for my first one and I think I paid about $14 for my last one (that I keep as a spare). Nonetheless a fulcrum scale seems like it might be faster and easier (not to mention far cheaper) for this specific task.

How to tell the Large Date from the Small Date? Most writers point to the size of the “8” as being quite a bit larger and taller or the curvature of the “2” being different on the Large Date but in reality it is much easier just to look for the bold larger characters of the entire date and legend and how close they are to the rim for the Large Date and how delicate the characters on the Small Date and the significantly further distance they are from the rim. The “2” of date might be the most obvious; study how close it is to the rim on the Large Date vs. how far it is from the rim on the Small Date. It’s that simple.

In checking with error specialist Fred Weinberg of Encino, Calif., who does the error coin attributions for the Professional Coin Grading Service, I learned that he has never heard of one of these. He noted that there copper planchets known for a few 1983 cents (of which I had reported upon here in Numismatic News for both Denver and Philadelphia in the past. My book “Strike It Rich With Pocket Change” was responsible for the discovery of the 1983-D and several of the 1983 cents). There are also reports of three known certified 1989-D cents and one 1990-D struck on 3.1 gram copper-alloy planchets. And yes, after working in a stamping operation for over 25 years I am firmly convinced that wayward planchets can get lost in a plant for years before being uncovered and worked their way back into production channels.

More information about the error club, CONECA, that potter represents may be obtained from him at kpotter256@aol.com. An educational image gallery can be found on his website at http://koinpro.tripod.com.

 

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

 

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40 Responses to Rare 1982-D Small Date copper found

  1. Aardvark says:

    Back in 1982 the technique I used to distinguish the metallic content of the coins was to balance the penny on my finger and tap it. A copper cent will ring but a zinc cent will go thud.

  2. Roger1 says:

    I do believe I found 1

  3. Cindy says:

    New to this site but have been collecting coins for about a year in which I have come across some pretty cool coins. However, Ive been debating with a specific 1982D Mint copper penny weighed at 3.1 grams in fairly good condition that has some type of printing error…something like faded lines on both sides. Would like some advise as to what it could be.

  4. Bill Silva says:

    I have several of these large and small date coins all in au condition i aslso need help tgank u

  5. Bill Silva says:

    I need help i need to confirm sd 82 d

  6. Dave Harper says:

    Small date 1982-D cents are common. Being made of copper is what makes it rare. There is only one known at the moment. Any coin dealer should be able to help you

  7. Bill Silva says:

    I have a sd 82 d copper i need help with and will sell it

  8. Bill Silva says:

    Email me i will send as many pictures u want thank you

  9. I was digging near a building that we are tearing down and among many coins I found, was a copper 1982 D small date penny, but when I flipped it over, I noticed the back was up side down. Is this normal?

  10. Dave Harper says:

    It is normal. On U.S. coins, the top of the obverse is the bottom of the reverse when you turn the coin from one side to the other. I hope your cent is indeed a very rare 1982-D small-date copper rather than a large date copper or a small-date zinc. Good luck.

  11. Bill Silva says:

    Set my 82 copper D penny into PCGS over 3 weeks ago how long does it normally take I sent it through a coin Company here in Clearwater Florida call Vincent’s coin and Jewelry they told me 3 weeks I called yesterday and they said it’s not in yet it could take up to 2 months is that true having trust issues LOL

  12. Dave Harper says:

    It is not unusual for a grading company to take adequate time to authenticate something that was unknown until this year as is the case for the copper small-date 1982-D cent.

  13. Bill Silva says:

    Thanks for all your help

  14. cotybenoit69 says:

    I have a 1982 penny that weighs 3.1 I have a digital scale and it weighs 3.11? I’m so stoked please someone help me contact the right person I signed up to this site just because I found this penny and I don’t trust any local coin places

  15. Osman says:

    Disculpen mi pregunta . Tengo un centavo de 1982 Small date que pesa 3.1 gramos lo raro es que no tiene letra de ceca y tengo 3 Large date letra D que pesan 3.1 gramos y un Small date que pesa 2.5 gramos .

  16. Dave Harper says:

    El raro centavo es el uno con 1982 fecha pequenia con marca D que pesa 3.1 gramos. No valor por de monedas usted tengan.

  17. Katy500 says:

    I am not a collector (although I played one as a child), but I happened across a stash of pennies sitting for 20 years that I didn’t have the heart to just toss into a CoinStar. Combing through the obvious lists of what to look for in this random divining-rod-in-my-backyard search, I happened upon this 1982 D story. Of course, I have found a couple in my new source. One thing I found interesting to comment: there is no substitute for holding the cents in your hand–at least for the uneducated–as far as generally typing it. I thought one was a large date, until I found a large date. Now I recognize that it clearly is a small. And hold a copper and then a zinc, and it is laughably obvious. No scale needed at this stage. And I mean LOOK at it. Totally different. So far I have a large date copper and a small date zinc. I’ll keep looking….

  18. koinsKarma says:

    okay I have about 15 1982 D large date penny’s weighing 3.1g a couple 1982 D small date penny’s at 2.5g and a couple of 1982 no mint mark penny’s that weigh 3.1g are any of these rare or or are they all common

  19. koinsKarma says:

    also I think I have a 1992 D close AM penny a little worn out but looks slightly different the all the other 1992 D penny

  20. cjblair0211@yahoo.com says:

    08/23/2017 11:43 P.M. EST
    I am hoping someone can lend a hand, I have pictures that I would like to email to someone willing to tell me if what I have found is or is not the rare penny for 1982 D weighing in at~2.5g. I am new to collecting and would like to asks a more seasoned vet. Please email me and I will send the pictures over. Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter, I appreciate the help.
    Sincerely,
    Carrie Ann Blair
    carecleandelaware@yahoo.com

  21. Akmanuel25 says:

    I have a 1982 D penny that weighs over 3g and if im not mistaken it is a small date.

  22. Diamond32 says:

    I have 5 1982 coins 4 of them are D mint marked and one doesn’t have a mint mark. They all weigh 3.1 I also have 1982 and 1983 pennies that are D mint marked but weigh the 2.5 can someone please help me on what to do to see if my

  23. Diamond32 says:

    Coins are valuable thank you I also have a 1983 with no mint mark

  24. Dave Harper says:

    Cents with no mintmark were made in Philadelphia. They are not rare.

    It is the combination of date, mintmark and composition that makes the small-date 1982-D copper cent rare. There is only one. There are billions of 1982-D small dates in copper-coated zinc.

    Here is a link for evaluating small date and large date. Look especially at the distance between the bottom of the 2 and its distance from the rim. The small date is much further away.

    http://www.numismaticnews.net/article/valuable-copper-small-date

  25. MikeeVee says:

    I’ve just been tossing my 82 copper pennies in the jar with all my other ‘junk’ copper. Now, I’ll have to dump it out and sort them out to see if I have any of this variety, lol. I have a few really beautiful 1982 specimens that I’ll now give a much more thorough look at to see if I have a high quality one.

  26. Daralyn says:

    I have one 1982 penny
    No mint mark, and small 2.and 3.11 weight
    It’s very pretty.
    I have other 1982 Penny’s that are also
    3.11 in weight, but they are dark.

  27. stephwhitt says:

    i have a 1982 D that weighs 3.04g

  28. Dave Harper says:

    The weight tolerance of 95 percent copper cents is 2.97 grams to 3.23 grams. Your coin falls within it.

  29. Dnjmcdonald says:

    I have a 1982 d penny that weighs 3.1 grams.

  30. Bmacias says:

    I have a 1982 d small date penny weighing 3.11 grams. What should I do now? As far as getting it certified etc.

  31. Dave Harper says:

    If you can email an image to david.harper@fwmedia.com, that would be a start. If you are absolutely sure it is a small date and not a large date, you could go straight to a third-party grading service.

  32. ger8026 says:

    I have a 1982 d penny that is larger than the others is this normal

  33. Dave Harper says:

    Sounds damaged in some way

  34. Taha says:

    I have 2 d small date pennies one weighing 3.9grams and the other 3.11grams.
    Can I sell these? And another one unminted that weighs 3.10grams swell so 3 total.

  35. Dave Harper says:

    Here is a link to take you to images of large and small dates.

    You will have to take them to a coin dealer to verify your finds.

    http://www.numismaticnews.net/article/rare-1982-d-small-date-copper-found

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