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HomeUS Coins1918-S Lincoln Cent : A Collector's Guide

1918-S Lincoln Cent : A Collector’s Guide

1918-S Lincoln Cent. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1918-S Lincoln Cent. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..

After eight years of low mintages, San Francisco had a break-out year for cent production in 1916 with a mintage of more than 22 million coins. In 1917, the San Francisco Mint struck 32,620,000 cents, and for the 1918-S Lincoln Cent, the Mint reported a mintage of 34,680,000 coins. While still “early” dates insofar as chronology dictates, the elusiveness of the preceding low-mintage issues does not govern the availability of S-Mint cents of the late 1910s.

The popularity of penny boards in the 1930s and the explosion in interest in coin collecting in the late ’50s and early ’60s meant that many lower-grade 1918-S Lincoln Cents were pulled out of circulation and saved. The long-term implications of this hoarding meant that in 2024, the 1918-S remains affordable, with Very Fine examples selling for about $3 to $5 on eBay. In Extra Fine, acquiring an example can cost as little as $15 to $20, even for examples in certified holders.

Mint State coins are less frequently encountered and come in three attributed categories: Brown or “B” (for coins that have lost all of their original red color), Red Brown or “RB” (for coins that retain some or much of their red color but are turning brown), and Red or “R” (for coins that retain nearly all of their original red color, even if it is muted). 1918-S Lincoln Cents in Red, especially at the Gem level, are rare. Stewart Blay, the most notable Lincoln Wheat Cent collector of his generation, could only source his example in PCGS MS65+RD, which is the current finest grade.

Strike quality varies for this issue; both well-struck and mushy coins exist. The 1918-S Lincoln Cent is typically embued with a finer character than the 1918-D Lincoln Cent, but neither issue comes as nice as a well-struck 1918 Lincoln Cent from the Philadelphia Mint.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS65+RD (3, 5/2024), NGC MS65RD (6, 5/2024), and CAC MS65RD (4:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

  • PCGS MS65+RD CAC #04646322: “Stewart Blay’s Red Copper Collection of Lincoln Cents,” GreatCollections, January 15, 2023, Lot 1272837 – $32,635.12.
  • PCGS MS65RD #38687089: GreatCollections, December 12, 2021, Lot 1079385 – $3,937.50.
  • PCGS MS65+RD #37254482: GreatCollections, August 4, 2019, Lot 669944 – $15,750.
  • PCGS MS65RD #42114731: As PCGS MS65RD #03719135: Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2006, Lot 187 – $21,850. Joshua and Ally Walsh on insert, verdigris at 4 o’clock on obverse; Heritage Auctions, December 4, 2008, Lot 168 – $11,500. Re-holdered with same certification number, Jack Lee on insert; As PCGS MS65RD #84289354: GreatCollections, March 14, 2021, Lot 950269 – $4,361.62. Re-holdered with a new certification number, Jack Lee on insert; Current Certification number: GreatCollections, August 15, 2021, Lot 1013260 – $4,123.12. Lee pedigree removed from insert.
  • PCGS MS65RD CAC #06564053: As PCGS MS65RD CAC #6564053: “The Dr. and Mrs. Duckor Collection of Lincoln Cents,” Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2020, Lot 3102 – $6,000; “Bender Family Collection, Part I,” Heritage Auctions, August 24, 2022, Lot 3678 – $8,700. Bender Collection on insert.
  • PCGS MS65RD #3438667: Stack’s Bowers, November 14, 2019, Lot 1141 – $3,120.
  • PCGS MS65RD #30018766: GreatCollections, May 19, 2019, Lot 705370 – $5,062.50.
  • PCGS MS65RD #36495243: GreatCollections, January 20, 2019, Lot 665347 – $4,331.25.
  • PCGS MS65RD #21399626: “Anne Kate Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 504 –  $4,560; Stack’s Bowers, November 1, 2018, Lot 91046 – $4,080.
  • PCGS MS65RD #35692969: Heritage Auctions, July 12, 2018, Lot 3029 – $8,400.
  • PCGS MS65RD #50250746: “ESM Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 22, 2018, Lot 2033 – $6,000.
  • PCGS MS65RD #83780501: GreatCollections, June 18, 2017, Lot 450373 – $7,152.20. Carbon spot on N on the obverse.
  • NGC MS65RD #379994-010: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2009, Lot 468 – $3,335. LI and IN on obverse weakly struck. Splotchy reverse.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1918
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mintmark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 34,680,000
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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  1. The 1918-S Lincoln Cent is extremely common in poorly struck condition. Well defined features are worth a premium. The three mints at this period of time were notorious in not enforcing quality control in the production of minting coins of all known denominations. Low pressure strikes were very common from 1917 to about 1926. Therefore, a well struck and well defined coin from this period is extremely desirable to coin collectors. I have seen cents from that period of minting in which one could not distinguish a D from S mintmark. The strike was simply too mushy to make a call as to which mint the coin came from initially.


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