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Do you have the valuable copper small-date?


Large Date 1982-D copper cent


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

The rare coins are the 1982-D small date cent made of 95-percent copper and the 1983-D cent also made of copper. The other cents of those two years are common.

The first thing to do is check the 1982-D cent to see whether it is a large date or a small date. Check the photos at right.

The large date can be seen at the top and the small date at the bottom. Note that the small date “2” is much farther from the rim. That is the easiest way to distinguish it from a large date.

The second step is to determine the metallic composition of the small date. There are numerous 1982-D small dates made of copper-coated zinc. There is only one known made of 95 percent copper. That is why it is rare and valuable.

The copper-coated zinc coins weigh 2.5 grams. The 95-percent copper weighs 3.11 grams.

All Lincoln cents minted before 1982 weigh 3.11 grams. Find one of those and two popsicle sticks.

Set up the sticks like a see-saw. Put one on its edge pointing at you. Put the other on top of it crossways to it.

Put the pre-1982 cent on one end.

Put your 1982-D small date on the other. If it balances, it is also 3.11 grams and is the rare one. If the pre-1982 cent drops down while the small-date cent rises, then the small date cent is the common copper-coated zinc version that weighs 2.5 grams. There are millions of the common version.

For the rare 1983-D in copper, only the weight matters. The date stays the same. If the 1983-D cent balances the pre-1982 on the other end of the stick, then it would be the rare copper piece and not the lighter copper-coated zinc.

You can also dispense with the popsicle stick if you have an electronic scale.


This article was originally published as a blog post by Numismatic News editor David C. Harper. >> Subscribe today.


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6 Responses to Do you have the valuable copper small-date?

  1. sarahpatterson673 says:

    im pretty sure that i have a 1982 Dsmall date thats 95 percent copper penny ive been knowing for about an month but scared of it being too good to be true and i dont know how to go about getting it looked at i save pennies especially all the ones of the years me and my siblings and my spouse and children were born please help me and direct in the right direction

  2. Kim says:

    I have a 1992 close am penny its a little beat up & iadvices on

  3. Kim says:

    I was hoping to get some help on how i get my 1992 close am penny checked out its a little beat up

  4. 82albee says:

    I found a 2.51 zincish? 82 sm date. Reverse cracked memorial post on tight.
    82 D COPPER 3.09g SM DATE i think. Double die on the D, IN & LIBERTY xtra copper dot on shirt.
    THEN I have another D 3.09 that i THINK is lrg date, with a clash through the 8 and 2 that goes to the rim. Reverse side has like a little xtta copper corner on the top right of the memorial, then a little copper blotch on bottom left of memorial. BUT THE CRAZIEST THING is the rim, in some areas amd to the naked eye, it has faint little ridges like a dime. AND THEN under magnify or close ups on my phone, There is what looks like a 2 in one area and a 5 in another.
    I don’t know where to start or what to do with these. Can anyone plase help? I can send pics, etc. Albeemarine@gmail

  5. 82albee says:

    I just recently started getting into dollar serial numbers, which drew me to the coins and now I have yet another addiction (great…).
    Anyway my being born in 1982, whenever i noticed an ’82 coin around Id keep it and do something silly, like buy a scratch off (cause i love throwing away $) and use my ’82 coin I found that day to scratch a ticket. I ALWAYS lose.
    Im hoping I won this time though because I have a zinc-ish(2.51g?) sm date. I think its a double die. On the reverse side, the pillar all the way on the right is cracked at the top and looks like going to come crashing down. Common coin, no big deal.
    Next ’82 I pull out is a 3.9 gram D, which I THINK is a small date and doubled on the “D”, “LIBERTY” and the “IN”.
    Where do I start with this thing? What should I do now?
    Next 82 is another 3.09g, that I THINK is a large date. Now this thing has some wild errors though. It has a I believe DD’d in the date and then the 8 and 2, to the rim, have a clash ( I think is a cut or scar through it? Then I believe he’s got a hair error, i think its called a cuff or sonething along those lines? On the reverse side, the top right corner of the memorial looks like it has and extra little piece of copper there. And then on bottom left of memorial there’s another kind extra little blotch of copper. BUT the craziest thing on this coin (or so i thought) is that on the rim, in some areas, there are ridges, like a dime. You can just make them out with the naked eye. AND THEN under magnify or zoomed on HD pics on my phone- there appears to be a slight 2 in one spot and a 5 in another- ALONG THE RIM .
    That’s all i got. So what do i with my like finds? What’s next?

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