There are many aspects of numismatics that can be challenging. The Lincoln Cent series is full of such challenges and is probably the most collected series of US coins. The common 1982 cent is one of those many challenges that seems to trouble collectors both new and old. So, I thought I would put together a simple guide to help identify the 1982 Lincoln cent. Before 1982, the Lincoln Cent was made on a 95% copper planchet. Due to the cost of materials, a planchet change was needed in the 1980s. It was decided that a change to a 99.2% zinc planchet plated with copper was the economical alternative. So, that change was made in 1982. Unfortunately for collectors, the change was made in the middle of 1982 resulting in some cents comprised of 95% copper and others 99% zinc with no obvious way to tell them apart. To make matters worse, during the same year the font size of the date was changed from large to small…also midyear. The typical annual release of two different circulation cents (Philadelphia and Denver) suddenly become seven for 1982. The 1982 Lincoln Cent circulation release was as follows: 1982 Copper, Large Date 1982 Copper, Small Date 1982 Zinc, Large Date 1982 Zinc, Small Date 1982-D Copper, Large Date 1982-D Zinc, Large Date 1982-D Zinc, Small Date Planchet Identification The most difficult part of identifying these is by planchet. The only way to do so is by weight. If you have a scale, this is very easy. The copper planchet weighs 3.11g and the zinc planchet weighs 2.5g. But, if you are like me…you probably don’t have a scale. So, I have created a guide to make a simple popsicle scale. Supplies Popsicle Stick Scissors Scotch Tape Ruler Pencil Drinking Straw 3 Lincoln Cents of known weight (2 zinc, 1 copper) – 1983 or newer for zinc and 1981 or older for copper (not 1943) Take the popsicle stick (I have used a tongue depressor…but it’s all the same) and measure it. Find the middle and draw a straight line with the pencil. It is important that you get the line centered on the popsicle stick as best as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the closer the better. Now, cut a piece of the drinking straw and tape it to the over the line. The straw will serve as the fulcrum for the scale. Next, flip the scale over. On one end, tape a zinc cent right up against the end. Use the roundness of the cent and the edge of the stick to make sure you get it right on the end. You have now completed your scale. Next, test it. You should have one known zinc cent and a copper cent remaining. Place one on the opposite end of the scale right up against the edge and see how it reacts. It should be pretty close to balancing with the zinc and the copper should go to the ground like a rock. Here is a picture of my test. Although the zinc isn’t perfectly balanced…it is obvious which is the zinc and which is the copper (zinc is top, copper is bottom). You can now sort your 1982 Lincoln’s by weight to determine which is copper and which is zinc. Keep the scale and reuse it. Date Size Identification The hard part is now over. But, you still have to sort the cents by date size. Simply compare them. The large dates have a much fatter looking “8” in the date then the small date cents. The base of the “2” is also a fairly easy difference to see. Here is a comparison picture which illustrates the differences. Compare your cents to the pictures and to each other and you should be able to tell them apart. You now have all the tools needed to identify all 7 types of circulation 1982 Lincoln Cents. I hope this guide has been helpful to you. Thanks for reading.