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HomeUS Coins1985 Lincoln Cent : A Collector's Guide

1985 Lincoln Cent : A Collector’s Guide

1985 Lincoln Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1985 Lincoln Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The Philadelphia Mint and West Point Bullion Depository combined efforts to strike Lincoln Memorial Cents in 1985. 4,951,904,887 cents were struck at Philadelphia, while 696,585,000 were produced at West Point. The sum product of these efforts bears no mintmark and is colloquially referred to as the P-Mint issue or the Philadelphia strike.

It was with this issue, that the United States Mint adopted the use of chrome-plated dies for business strike coins. The process of using physical vapor deposition to apply a thin plating of chrome on dies before they are put in use was first implemented by the Mint in the early 1970s and was done to extend the life of the dies. The resulting coins have a more consistent appearance and a different “look”, characteristic of business strike coins produced by the Mint to this day.

Since 1959 (and except 1965-’67), the Mint has offered Uncirculated Coin Sets for sale, which include one example of each business strike coin struck by the issuing mint facilities–typically Philadelphia and Denver.

1985 Uncirculated Coin Set. Image: CoinWeek.
1985 Uncirculated Coin Set. Image: CoinWeek.

These coins typically retain their original condition and are struck from fresh dies. It is more likely than not that the majority of the Superb Gem or better examples certified by third-party grading services originate from these sets. 1,710,571 sets were sold at an initial issue price of $7 per set ($20.80 adjusted for inflation). Today, these Uncirculated Coin Sets sell for less than $10 each and are the best source for acquiring Superb Gem examples. Loose coins from Mint Sets can be purchased for less than a $1.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

While the typical 1985 Lincoln Cent is worth less $1 in Gem Mint State Red, collectors of ultra-high-end examples in the MS68RD or better grades, certified by CAC, NGC, or PCGS will often pay more than $1,000 for an example.

GreatCollections dominates the market for ultra-high-end modern United States coins. The number of 1985 Lincoln Cent listings in MS68RD at GreatCollections far exceeds those sold at Heritage and Stack’s Bowers.

The downside risk of conditional rarities is evident with coins like the 1985 Lincoln Cent. The MS68RD grade used to command over $1,000 per coin, but recent auctions indicate that the pricing level at this grade has dropped to $200 – $300. The first MS68+RD listed for auction sold for $5,875, but would likely not sell for that price today. The first PCGS MS69RD sold for a record $11,812.50. If another coin is certified at this level, we expect it to sell for a lower price.

Artificially toned 1985 Lincoln Cents have no numismatic value. Don’t buy artificially toned coins. You will regret it.

Top Population: PCGS MS69RD (11, 6/2024), NGC MS69RD (10, 6/2024), and CAC N/A (none graded, 6/2024).

  • PCGS MS69RD #47686777: GreatCollections, August 27, 2023, Lot 1124732 – $11,812.50. Top pop, pop one when offered. Imaged on PCGS CoinFacts.
  • PCGS MS68+RD #83200308: Heritage Auctions, April 4, 2017, Lot 15668 – $5,875.
  • PCGS MS68+RD #25053014: Heritage Auctions, February 27, 2014, Lot 3173 – $5,875. Top pop, pop one when offered; Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2017, Lot 3341 – $5,875.
  • PCGS MS68RD #43995921: Heritage Auctions, November 6, 2023, Lot 92316 – $264.
  • PCGS MS68RD #25292391: Heritage Auctions, June 5, 2018, Lot 21128 – $288.
  • PCGS MS68RD #81342436: Heritage Auctions, September 7, 2016, Lot 3594 – $564; GreatCollections, October 23, 2016, Lot 401140 – $396; GreatCollections, November 8, 2020, Lot 897146 – $154.12.
  • PCGS MS68RD #25615243: Heritage Auctions, May 1, 2016, Lot 7270 – $2,173.75; GreatCollections, April 22, 2018, Lot 536778 – $365.62.
  • PCGS MS68RD #80888675: Heritage Auctions, August 10, 2016, Lot 3283 – $763.75; GreatCollections, April 1, 2018, Lot 536687 – View.
  • PCGS MS68RD #25793246: Heritage Auctions, August 10, 2016, Lot 3282 – $763.75; GreatCollections, September 18, 2016, Lot 391159 – View; GreatCollections, July 23, 2017, Lot 446003 – View.
  • PCGS MS68RD #3738101: Heritage Auctions, February 3, 2014, Lot 3192 – $1,175.
  • PCGS MS68RD #08798980: Heritage Auctions, September 17, 2008, Lot 484 – $1,725; Heritage Auctions, June 6, 2013, Lot 3792 – $998.75.
  • NGC MS68RD #137531-001: Heritage Auctions, October 20, 2012, Lot 7627 – $499.38.
  • PCGS MS68RD #90005653: Heritage Auctions, February 3, 2011, Lot 3151 – $920.
  • PCGS MS68RD: “The Close to Perfection Collection,” Stack’s, June 17, 2010, Lot 1419 – $1,495.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1985
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 5,648,489,887
Alloy: Copper-plated zinc (core: .992 zinc, .008 copper)
Weight: 2.5 g
Diameter: 19.0 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: Victor David Brenner
REV Designer: Frank Gasparro
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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