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1914-D Lincoln Cent : A Collector’s Guide

1914-D Lincoln Cent. Image: CoinWeek.
1914-D Lincoln Cent. Image: CoinWeek.

The 1914-D Lincoln cent is the rarest early date Lincoln cent in Mint State. To date, just over 300 examples have been certified in Mint State Red, while a combined 600 examples are counted in the NGC and PCGS censuses in Mint State Red Brown. Controversial coin expert Walter Breen once recounted that a New England coin dealer possessed ten rolls of Mint State examples as late as 1943, by then, the coin was already considered scarce in that condition.

Many counterfeit examples and altered dates have been produced to fill holes in collector penny boards either as a cost-saving measure or as an act of deception. Four different mintmark positions are known for the issue, aiding authentication.

On one authentic 1914-D Lincoln cent die, a small die crack extends from the rim at the right edge of Lincoln’s coat and travels up through the bust before terminating in the coat level with the gap between the date and the mintmark. Another authentic die features a small tool mark curving down from the left serif of the T on LIBERTY.

All authentic 1914-D Lincoln cents have circular hub marks on the inside of the 9 of the date.

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 MS-63 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 MS-66 RD. That coin is tied for the finest known with four other examples, according to the PCGS census.

Video Highlights

On April 5, 2023, CoinWeek asked collectors to Guess the Grade of this 1914-D Lincoln cent:

 

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

In a 1974 issue of The Numismatist, Chicago-based dealer Larry Whitlow listed a “Gem Brilliant Uncirculated” 1914-D Lincoln cent for sale at $1,000.

The 1914-D Lincoln cent is a key date coin and, as such, has significant value over face value even in worn circulated grades. Authentication by a professional service is highly recommended. Beware of counterfeits.

Top Population: PCGS MS66+RD (1, 2/2024). NGC MS66RD (5, 2/2024). CAC MS66RD (1:0 stickered:graded, 2/2024).

  • PCGS MS-66RD CAC #1383394: “Stewart Blay’s Red Copper Collection of Lincoln Cents”, GreatCollections, January 15, 2023, Lot 1272824 – View. Old Green Holder.
  • NGC MS-66RD #175140-017: Heritage Auctions, May 3-7, 2023, Lot ?, $38,400. Die erosion evident above C and to the left of O on the reverse.
  • NGC MS-66RD #6045621-004: “Larry H. Miller Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, November 12, 2020, Lot 6017 – $38,400. Two copper spots to the right of Lincoln’s forehead. Green spot underneath right arm of T of CENT.
  • PCGS MS-66RD #82620666: Stack’s Bowers, March 19, 2020, Lot 3108 – $40,800.
  • PCGS MS-65+RD CAC #25279086: “PNG Invitational Signature” (as PCGS MS-65+RD CAC #25279086), Heritage Auctions, October 9, 2014, Lot 4626 – $28,200; Heritage Auctions, May 3-7, 2023, Lot ? – $52,800. Ex: Bender Collection (on label). Carbon spot below OF (on reverse). Small constellation of spots around T in CENTS.
  • PCGS MS-65+RD #41273268: GreatCollections, March 21, 2021, Lot 961616 – View; “Merritt Collection of Lincoln Cents”, GreatCollections, April 2, 2023, Lot 1309734 –View. Numerous small copper spots on Lincoln’s jacket and beard, spot to the right of D of GOD, diagonal cut below N of CENT (on the reverse).
  • PCGS MS-65+RD #38093051: GreatCollections, July 19, 2020, Lot 859650 – View.
  • PCGS MS-65+RD #81601768: GreatCollections, September 18, 2016, Lot 388973 – View. Two small discoloration marks above R and T of LIBERTY.
  • PCGS MS-65+RD #33275322: “Revtyak Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, March 31, 2016, Lot 3021 – $17,625.

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Design

Obverse:

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.

Reverse:

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, is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Edge:

The edge of the 1914-D Lincoln Wheat cent is plain or smooth, without reeding or edge lettering.

Designer

Lithuanian-born coin designer Victor David Brenner is best known for his iconic design for the Lincoln cent (1909-Present) (View Designer’s Profile).

Counterfeit Detection

The 1914-D Lincoln cent is often counterfeited. Counterfeiters will occasionally forge a “1914-D cent” by adding a D mintmark from another Denver Mint cent. Although poorly added mintmarks are easy to spot by trained numismatists, expert forgeries require close scrutiny under magnification. Another common practice is to take a common 1944-D cent and remove metal to make the first four look like a 1. To detect this fake know that the D mintmark used on the 1914-D cent was not used after 1931 and is smaller than the mintmark used in later years. Also, the coin designer’s initials VDB do not appear on the bust truncation of an authentic 1914-D cent.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1914
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mint Mark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 1,193,000
Alloy: 95% Copper, 5% Tin and Zinc
Weight: 3.11 g
Diameter: 19.00 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer Victor David Brenner
REV Designer Victor David Brenner
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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12 COMMENTS

    • It’s possible but unlikely, unless e.g. your coins were acquired a long time ago. Your best path would be to have them examined by an expert, especially as there are numerous counterfeits that were made by altering genuine 1944-D or 1914 (P) cents, among other ways.

      • My friend found a 1944 steal cent. Along with other wheat pennies that are without mint marks dates are before 1930s. Did he find something that could be worth alot of money? He found in an 100 yr. old farm house they were tearing down.

  1. Only 484,000 1909-S VDB cents were minted. Describing the 1914-D mintage of 1,193,000 as only “slightly more” seems IMO to be a be a bit of a stretch.

  2. To the above comment, there are more or far more 1909-S VDB than 1914-D. Both are common but the 09-SVDB is more common, especially in MS.

    • The “slightly more” phrase was in reference to the coins’ original mintages which differ by more than a factor of two. However as you note, PCGS census estimates show significant skewing among survivors. While there are still a lot more estimated surviving 1914-D cents than 1909-S VDB (~120,000 versus ~50,000) overall, among those in MS-60 and above the latter predominate (~6,000 versus ~1,500). Arguably publicity around the 1909-S VDB cents probably led to a higher fraction being saved early on.

  3. I stopped collecting coins after my father sold my 1792 half disme.He received $10,000 for it. I was 21 years of age. I would love to know when this coin is now. It was given to me by my grandmother who grew up in the Shrewsbury Massachusetts area. The coin is gone and so is my dad.

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