Legal battle over rare aluminum penny

1974-D aluminum cent
1974-D aluminum cent

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV/CNN) — A California man is mounting a legal battle against the federal government — to keep a penny.

That’s because it’s no ordinary penny — it’s a rare aluminum one that’s been in Randy Lawrence’s family for 40 years.

Having just moved here from Denver, Lawrence went to a coin shop in La Jolla.

“I had this coin collection since he died,” Lawrence said.

He being his father who worked here at the Denver Mint as a supervisor for 20 years.

“He had amassed a number of coins through that time that he had been given,” Lawrence said.

Among them a 1974 aluminum penny. Thousands were made, but then congress said don’t use them.

So most were recalled and melted, except this one from Denver.

Lawrence had actually sold the coin to the La Jolla shop whose owner discovered how rare it was.

Then they got a letter from the government which said they wanted it back.

“You go from that high to this sudden extreme low and even if you didn’t know this could happen you don’t realize it until it does and then it’s disappointing,” Lawrence said.

Not about to take this lying down, Lawrence and the shop owner Mike McConnel contacted lawyer Armen Vartian.

“Joe Biden got two of them. As far as I know he hasn’t given them back,” Vartian said.

In fact there is one other aluminum penny in private hands and Vartian said they haven’t been asked to give it back.

“That they don’t have any right to them seems absurd,” Vartian said.

Lawrence said to auction it will serve a higher purpose than have it sit on a shelf in a museum.

“It will do so much more good if we are allowed to auction this coin and give a chunk of money to charity,” Lawrence said.

That’s still the goal, which for now is on hold.

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