• seperator

May 3, 1975

 

In 1975, the patterns for proposed aluminum cents disappeared on Capitol Hill. What would ensue became one of the greatest mysteries of numismatic history. Over thirty years later, only a few of the illusive aluminum cents have been located.

Aluminum Cent Patterns ‘Lost’ on Capitol Hill

Fourteen of the Mint’s aluminum cent patterns are missing and it appears several congressmen or members of their staffs made off with them.

On April 22, a spokesman for the Bureau of the Mint verified that 16 of the 1974-dated patterns, which were struck in December, 1973, when the agency was considering a change in the Lincoln cent’s alloy, had been sent to Capitol Hill for study by members of the House and Senate banking committees, but only two of them had been returned. The rest have mysteriously disappeared.

First word of the missing patterns appeared in the syndicated Washington Merry-Go-Round column by Jack Anderson, who said, “It looks suspiciously as if some distinguished members of Congress may have sticky fingers.”

“This has created an awkward predicament for the U.S. Mint, which has tried ever so delicately to retrieve the rare pennies from the Senate and House banking committees,” Anderson added. “These are the same committees, you see, which have jurisdiction over the Mint.”

According to Anderson, Mint Director Mary Brooks said she had considered turning the matter over to the Secret Service, but had thought better of the idea, because “she was reluctant, understandably to instigate and investigation of the committees that oversee her own operations.”

At presstime, Mrs. Brooks was on her way to San Francisco for the ceremonies marking the first striking of the 40 percent silver Bicentennial coinage and was unavailable for comment.

However, and aide in Washington said Mrs. Brooks was hopeful the patterns, which could be worth several thousand dollars each on the collector market, would turn up “eventually.”