The so-called 1922 “No D” or 1922 Plain Lincoln Cent is an intriguing variety that has remained very much in demand with collectors. The variety is only identifiable due to a unique set of circumstances that occurred during the year of production. It is now considered to be among the scarcest of the Lincoln cent varieties, especially in high grade, and one of the key dates to an uncirculated set of Lincoln Cents including major varieties.
In 1922, the production of Lincoln Cents only took place at the Denver Mint facility. The Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints, which would have usually produced the denomination, were focused on striking silver dollars which had been reintroduced in the previous year. This resulted in the Denver Mint carrying the sole responsibility for maintaining the supply of freshly minted cents.
When the 1922-D Lincoln cents were being produced one of the die pairs severely clashed, the result of a strike with no planchet between the two dies. Clashed dies, as they are called in numismatics are relatively common, although only a small number are severe and worth premiums. The Mint, as we now know, did consider the clash marks to be severe enough to have the obverse die repolished, while the reverse die was replaced since it was considered unsuitable for further coinage. During the repolishing of the obverse, the Mint Mark was erroneously removed and the last two digits of the date were weakened.
During any other year, these cents struck at the Denver Mint without the “D” mint mark would have escaped identification since it would have been assumed that the coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint which did not place a mint mark on the coins. However, since the Denver Mint was the only facility producing cents during the year, identification of the variety was possible.
The variety that is described above is the so-called “No D, strong reverse”, struck from die pair #2, the most valuable of the 1922 No D Lincoln Cents. Die pairs # 1, # 3 & # 4 are less valuable, and struck from a different dies. These are called 1922 “Weak D” cents, and were not created by overpolished dies, but by dies filled with grease. As such, traces of the Mintmark are sometimes visible, although this does not always have to be the case. Certain die markers are thus very important when identifying the different die pairs. These die markers mostly include the strength of the lettering and devices.