U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

Buy It Now Coins

The Aluminum Cent

Circulation strikes: Approx. 1,570,000
Metal content: 96% Aluminum with trace metals

Mass: 0.937 G (0.030 Troy Oz)
Diameter: 19.05 mm  (0.750 in)
Thickness: 1.55 mm  (0.061 in)
Catalog Number: Judd J2151/Pollock P2084 (1974 Aluminum)
Judd J2152 (1974 Bronze-Plated Steel)
Judd J2155 (1975 Aluminum)

The Aluminum Cent

During the early 1970s, the price of copper rose to a point where the Lincoln cent contained nearly one cent's worth of copper. This led the Mint to try alternate metals, including aluminum and bronze-clad steel. Aluminum was chosen, and over 1.5 million of these cents were struck and ready for public release before ultimately being rejected. About a dozen aluminum cents are believed to still be in the hands of collectors, although they may be considered illegal, and could be subject to seizure. One aluminum cent was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

The 1974 aluminum cent was a one-cent coin proposed by the United States Mint in 1973. It was composed of an alloy of aluminum and trace metals, and intended to replace the predominantly copper–zinc cent due to the rising costs of coin production in the traditional bronze alloy. 1,570,000 were struck in anticipation of release, but none were released into circulation. Examples were passed out to US Congressmen in a bid to win favor in switching to the new alloy. When the proposed aluminum cent was rejected, the Mint recalled and destroyed the examples. A few aluminum cents not returned to the Mint are believed to remain in existence. One example was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, while another was alleged to have been found by a US Capitol Police Officer. Since the United States Secret Service is tasked with the seizure of any specimens, the legality of the coins is in doubt.

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