COINage Profile: 1982-D Small Date Bronze Lincoln Cent Transitional Error

1982-D Bronze Small Date

In the Lincoln cent series there are many popular errors and varieties. But one of the newest kids on the block is the 1982-D small date bronze Lincoln cent. It was produced during the busy transitional year of 1982, when seven different regular-issue circulating Lincoln cents were struck involving large dates and small dates on both the traditional 95% copper, 5% zinc planchets and the new copper-coated zinc cents.

The 1982-D small date bronze Lincoln penny was long theorized but was a coin whose existence was never numismatically confirmed until the first example appeared in 2016. The AU58 specimen sold for a stunning $18,800 at a 2017 Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction. A second example was found later and fetched $10,800 in the same condition. A subsequent appearance of the coin took $8,400. The bottom line? The 1982-D small date bronze Lincoln cent is a rare and valuable transitional error!

So, how do you find them? There are two key diagnostics: the size of the date and the coin’s weight. The 1982-D small date bronze weighs about 3.1 grams, versus only 2.5 grams for the far more common zinc issue. The small date can be distinguished by alignment of the tops of the date numerals along a single and solid (but invisible) plane, whereas the tops of the date numerals terminate at differing “heights.” Also, the “2” of the small date is curvier than that of the large date. These coins have been found in rolls and regular circulation, so you have as much a chance as anybody to find the next example!

Photo credit: Heritage Auctions,


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