1974 was also a year which also saw a large and small date variety. The mint had made a new master die for the 1974 cents which is doesn't do often, usually only when there is to be a change in the cent or the composition of it. The mint had been looking for a replacement for the Copper cent and even minted a few Aluminum cents in 1974. This may be the reason for the new master die. Later in the year, the mint again decided to make a new master die with a smaller date and less detail than the previous die. The large date is sometimes referred to as a type I and the smaller date as Type II. The differences between the two varieties is not great, nor is either one hard to find in circulation. This may be why they aren't as popular with collectors as some of the other large and small date varieties. Since this difference in size was on the master die itself, the large and small dates were made at all three mints, Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
The small date will have a lower relief than the large and the cross bar of the 4 doesn't extend as far to the left as it does on the large date. Another noticeable difference can be seen in the details of Lincoln's hair. http://www.lincolncentsonline.com/l...lldates.html