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Press Release June 21, 2001

ICG Grades Finest Known 1944 Steel Cent

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ICG—Independent Coin Grading—of Englewood, Colorado recently authenticated and graded the finest known 1944 steel cent. ICG gave the coin—struck on a zinc-coated steel planchet at the Philadelphia Mint—a grade of MS-64.

The coin is owned by Edward Bittner, a long time collector from Southern California. Bittner purchased the coin in 1981 from Reynolds Coin Shop in Flint, Michigan and has stored it away for the past 20 years.

Reynolds acquired the coin in the 1981 ANA Bowers and Ruddy Galleries auction (Lot 415). Just weeks later Reynolds sold the coin to Bittner. According to the Bowers and Ruddy catalog the coin had been consigned to them on March 27, 1981 by Harry Forman, a long-time and still active dealer from Philadelphia. Previous to this the coin had been owned by William Grichin, another Philadelphia coin dealer who had obtained it from an anonymous lady friend of John R. Sinnock’s, who, in 1944, was the Chief Engraver of the Philadelphia Mint. According to this woman, Sinnock gave the coin to her as a gift.

The cataloger went on to write “For many years it was speculated that a 1944 cent existed of the 1943 zinc-coated steel format, but none appeared. In recent times some pieces have come to light, as those who obtained them originally one way or another have seen fit to part with them, or their descendants have. Don Taxay lists this piece in Scott’s Encyclopedia of United States Coins….” The coin is “Of incredible importance due to the popularity of the Lincoln cent series and the unique appearance of the metal. The condition is incomparable.”

According to Bittner, he chose to have ICG grade and authenticate the coin for several reasons: the reputations of each of the ICG graders, the quality of coins he has seen in ICG holders, its superior service and because ICG is the only grading service to offer the revolutionary Intercept Shield gasket that protects coins from spotting tarnishing or discoloring for years.

Provided courtesy of ICG.


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