Description and Analysis
Lincoln Cents, Wheat Reverse
1950 1C PF
Description & Analysis
Sales of proof coins did not resume until 1950 due to a combination of an antiquated appropriation system and bureaucratic disdain for the program. The Mint operated on an annual appropriation that sometimes ran out before the end of its fiscal year on June 30, and any profit from the manufacture of coins, proofs included, had to be surrendered to the Treasury's general fund. This fact was cited as the reason for not minting proof coins year after year. Only when it was determined that the Mint could apply the profits from one year's proof sales to toward the next year's costs did production resume.
1950 proofs come with two finishes, these being somewhat similar to those seen for 1936 cents. It's not certain whether this was due to its having to relearn the die polishing process or simply to allowing the dies to lose their brilliance through prolonged use. Whatever the cause, these two slightly different finishes have not been codified as have those for 1936, perhaps because there are enough 1950 proofs of the brilliant finish to satisfy demand.
The most important distinction between pre-war proofs and those coined in 1950 and later is that a significant and collectable quantity of Cameo and Ultra Cameo proofs are known. While these still represent a small minority of the total proof output, they are not classified as rarities.