1976 was an important year in American Numismatics. The Bicentennial quarter, half dollar and dollar had been released, featuring Jack Ahr’s drummer, Seth Huntington’s view of Independence Hall and Dennis William’s Liberty Bell, respectively. But from the start, U.S. Mint Director Mary Brooks was against the idea of changing the designs of all six coins then in circulation and so, when she finally changed her mind and supported the idea of circulating commemoratives for the Bicentennial, the Lincoln cent was not among the celebratory denominations.
As the United States Mint entered the 1970s, mintages for Philadelphia (no mint mark) and Denver (D) business strike Lincoln cents kept getting larger and larger. Frank Gasparro’s Memorial reverse, which debuted in 1959, saw mintages go from the hundreds of millions to the billions by the mid-’70s. There was a relative dip in production for 1975 and 1976, but mintages were back on the upswing going into the ’80s.
The San Francisco Proof mintage, however, numbered in the millions.
Better mint technology had also been adopted by this time, which meant that cents from the decade tended to come nicer than in previous years, and the strike on the 1976 Lincoln cent is, therefore, sharper on the whole. And thanks to the massive production numbers just mentioned, it is not a difficult prospect to find decent circulated specimens with original luster. Typical Uncirculated examples are worth a very small premium over face value. Examples that sell for premiums are those that are certified in high Mint State grades by either PCGS or NGC.
Uncirculated Brown Philly business strikes in High Mint State (above MS-65) can sell for anywhere from $10 to $20; Red Brown can go as high as $40, and cherry Red examples in MS-66 and above can sell for $30 to almost $90. Denver strikes seem to max out between $10 and $40, going from Brown to Red. Proofs in the highest grades (MS-68 and above) and with especially nice Cameo can garner $40-$100.
The obverse of the 1976 Lincoln cent was designed by Victor David Brenner and appears largely as it did when the type was first minted in 1909. The main difference on the 1976 obverse versus the 1909 version is the location of Brenners’ initials, V.D.B., which were added under Lincoln’s bust in 1918 after their removal from the reverse in late 1909. The date, 1976, appears to the right of Lincoln and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST appears above the president. On the left of the 16th president is the word LIBERTY.
Frank Gasparro designed the 1959 Lincoln Memorial reverse that replaced the original 1909 Brenner wheat stalk design. Gasparro’s initials FG appear on the lower-right side of the Lincoln Memorial. Below the edifice and along the rim are the words ONE CENT, while the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA run along the top half of the reverse along the rim. Between the top of the Lincoln Memorial and UNTED STATES OF AMERICA inscription is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM.
Lithuanian-born coin designer Victor David Brenner is best known for his iconic design for the Lincoln cent (1909-Present) (View Designer’s Profile). Frank Gasparro was an American medalist and coin designer (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||1976|
|Mint Mark:||P, D, S|
|Mintage:||4,674,292,426 (P), 4,221,592,455 (D), 4,149,730 (Proof; S)|
|Alloy:||95% copper, %5 tin and zinc|
|OBV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
|Quality:||Business Strike, Uncirculated, Proof|
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