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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 2, January 10, 2010, Article 7

QUIZ ANSWER: THE 1974 ALUMINUM CENT

Wexler Authoritative Reference on Lincoln Cents 2nd ed Regarding the cover of The Authoritative Reference on Lincoln Cents by John Wexler and Kevin Flynn, last week I asked:

Why does a 1974 cent rate the cover photo? What's so special about it?

This was an easy one, at least for those of us over a certain age. Paul Horner was the first to write that it's made of aluminum, and John Burns and Fred Reed were close runners-up. David L. Ganz writes:

I never did have the cent but the blank I did retain and it is presently found in the Smithsonian collection.

In March, 1974, I had just left Iola and had started law school. Hearings on the Aluminum cent were announced for March 27. Chuck Holstein, the staff member of the Consumer Affairs subcommittee (chaired by Leonor K Sullivan, D-MO) asked if I wanted to testify, since I was very opinionated that aluminum was a bad choice.

I put in testimony that took a very negative position on how the Mint came about recommending aluminum (it was clear they started with their conclusion and then worked backwards). At the hearing itself, Richard Schreiber of NAMA (merchandising association) brought rejector mechanisms to show how they worked and brought slugs that were real to demonstrate it.

They were passed around for all to see, as were some of the 1974 cents (struck in 1973) that the Mint produced. Those were mostly collected (Holstein kept his in his wallet as did GOP staffer Orman Fink). I asked Schreiber if I could have some of the blanks for my own use. I later donated one of them to the Smithsonian (I saw it when as a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee we took a tour and I asked to see the box it was in. [wow what a sight!]).

Sometime later, Jack Anderson (then Drew Pearson's associate) wrote about the scandal involving 1974 aluminum cents. Chuck sent his to the Smithsonian as a gift to protect it and by that time my planchet was already there,

I missed a day of law school for that, but what a thrill! Just a month before, I had served on the Assay Commission.

What a great experience - thanks for sharing it with us, and thanks also for thinking of the National Numismatic Collection. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: THE AUTHORITATIVE REFERENCE ON LINCOLN CENTS, SECOND EDITION (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n01a04.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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