The Lincoln cent is the United States’ longest-serving coin. Its 1909 debut marked the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and its elegant sculptural design served as the vanguard of a new wave of American coin art. But while the golden age of American coin design is most associated with medallic artist and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gardens, it is the early 20th-century work of Litvak-American sculptor Victor David Brenner that remains in circulation.
Although struck in a denomination that has very little purchasing power, the Lincoln cent is a coin collecting powerhouse that has driven untold millions of people to enter the coin hobby over the years and continues to be a cornerstone series for new collectors.
As is the case with most coin series, collecting Lincoln cents can be as simple or as complex as a collector wants to make it. A simplified view of the Lincoln cent series divides it into five major types:
- The “Wheat Cent” of 1909-1958;
- The “Memorial” cents of 1959-1982;
- The “Zincoln” cent of 1983-2008;
- The four Bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth commemorative reverse designs of 2009; and
- The “Shield” reverse of 2010 to present.
For many, collecting Lincoln cents by date and mintmark is sufficient. Penny boards and coin albums have long proved popular methods of conveying the completeness of a collection.
Collectors interested in digging deeper than simply having one of each date and mintmark may consider a host of challenging collecting possibilities. Variety collectors can seek out hundreds of collectible doubled dies, repunched mintmarks, and mint errors in the series, while quality-conscious collectors might attempt to complete the United States’ longest-running coin series in high grade. When venturing down these two paths, it’s best to arm oneself with up-to-date market information and work with professionals when questions of authenticity and condition rarity are encountered.
The 1914-D in Specific
The 1914-D’s mintage of 1,193,000 coins is slightly higher than the famous 1909-S VDB, but in real terms, the 1914-D is the scarcer of the two issues. In our opinion, it is the key to the date and mintmark series. However, those digging deeper will find half-a-dozen or more Lincoln cent objets de désir far more difficult to acquire (e.g. the 1943 copper cent, the 1944 steel cent, the 1959 “Wheat” cent, the 1955 and 1969-S doubled dies, and the 1983 copper just to name a few).
Most 1914-D cents that survive are well-worn. These long-traveled coins have served dutifully as hole fillers in penny boards and albums for more than 60 years. For problem-free coins in the lower circulated grades, expect to pay $175 USD and up.
For discriminating collectors, acquiring examples in Mint State will increase the cost factor by a multiple of 20 or more. On December 6, 2019, Heritage Auctions sold an example graded MS63 BN by PCGS and approved by CAC for $2,640. A recent auction high price paid for a 1914-D was $81,075 in 2016 for a PCGS MS66 RD. That coin is tied for the finest known with four other examples, according to the PCGS census.
The obverse of the 1914 Lincoln cent, which features a right-facing bust of President Abraham Lincoln, was designed by Victor David Brenner. The date 1914 appears to the right of Lincoln and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST appears above the president. Below the date is the mint mark “D” for the Denver Mint. To the left of the 16th president is the word LIBERTY.
Brenner’s “Wheat Cent” reverse. Two sheaths of wheat wrap around the right and the left side of the coin. At the top of the design, the motto “E ·PLURIBUS · UNUM” wraps around the rim. ONE CENT is inscribed in large letters, sans serif, the bottom arm of the E extends beyond the arm at the top. The middle arm is recessed. Beneath, in the same font, but smaller type: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The edge of the 1914-D Lincoln Wheat cent is plain, or smooth.
Lithuanian-born coin designer Victor David Brenner is best known for his iconic design for the Lincoln cent (1909-Present) (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||1914|
|Mint Mark:||D (Denver)|
|Alloy:||95% Copper, 5% Tin and Zinc|
|OBV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
|REV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
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