Hindsight is 20/20, and despite the Great Depression looming right around the corner, it was business as usual at the United States Mint in 1929. In fact, that year the Philadelphia facility struck 185,262,000 cents coins alone, and when combined with the other mint facilities, the mintage topped 277 million pieces.
This was the largest issuance of cents since 1920, and, with the declining need for currency in the early ’30s, would remain so until 1934.
Despite the high relative mintage figures, there is only one recorded variety combination for the 1929 cent struck in Philadelphia: the ODV 010 or “Flat foot to G of GOD” and RDV 004 or “No V.D.B., deep cut N of UNITED”.
The 1929 Lincoln Cent in Today’s Market
As one of the more common early Lincoln Wheat cent dates, pieces surviving in high grades do fetch a high price, with Red-designated coins receiving a decent premium. At the time of publication, no graded and certified pieces are recorded in a higher grade than MS 67+. While PCGS has graded 70 coins as MS 67 and 17 coins as MS 67+, of which all are designated as Red (RD), NGC has only one recorded MS 67+ and lists 40 coins at MS 67 – with all but one of the MS 67s being designated as Red.
Coins graded MS 67+ regularly bring between $4,000 and $5,000 at auction. Flat MS 67-graded pieces in all color designations sell for between $800 and $1,000. However, pieces in this grade are relatively rare and do not come up for sale often.
Even though the auction record was set in the Heritage Auctions April 2014 sale with a hammer price of $5,581 for an MS 67+ RD, these coins were not always valued as highly. Before 2002, coins graded MS 67 regularly sold for $250 to 500. Shortly thereafter, the value of Red-Brown (RB) and Brown (B) pieces began fluctuating dramatically and repeatedly, with auction prices as low as $196 in Heritage Auction’s November 2002 sale and as high as $4,140 in HA’s January 2004 sale. Due perhaps to their color designation, RD pieces experienced a steadier growth.
Going backward, MS 66+ and MS 66 populations begin to spike. PGCS has graded 202 pieces as MS 66 and two as MS 66+ with the Red designation and 13 in both grades as either Red-Brown or Brown. Additionally, PCGS has graded 44 pieces as MS66+ and 487 as MS 66 in Red and 12 in both grades as either Red-Brown or Brown. Combined, the two grading companies report a total of 47 specimens in MS 66+ and 713 in MS 66 (one must take crossovers and upgrades into account, however). This larger population has resulted in a lower price, with MS 66+ Red pieces worth between $450 and $500, and Red-Brown and Brown pieces regularly selling for $300 to $450. MS 66 Red coins are slightly less valuable, with prices ranging currently from $150 to $350. Red-Brown pieces of the same grade command a smaller premium and sell for $70 to $80. While there are no auction records for Brown-designated examples, they are worth a similar amount.
Coins graded between MS 62 BN and MS 65+ BN have a market valuation of between $20 and $30 at the lower end of Mint State (MS 62 to MS 63) and $40 to $50 at the lower end of Gem (MS 65). In grades below MS 62, there are very few certified examples, with the total combined population from NGC and PCGS standing at 115 pieces. Between XF and AU grades, the prices range from $3 to $15.
In VF grades and lower, certified examples of the 1929 Lincoln cent are worth $1 or less. This, then, represents an upper bound on the value of well-circulated pieces you might occasionally find in change or receive in rolls from the bank.
Designer Victor David Brenner’s portrait of the beloved former president Abraham Lincoln depicts the president from the shoulder up. Lincoln is dressed in a period suit and is wearing a bow tie. Brenner’s initials “V.D.B.” appear in Lincoln’s shoulder truncation. At the top of the design, wrapping around the rim is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST”. “LIBERTY” appears behind Lincoln’s neck, on the left side of the coin. The date 1929 appears slightly lower, in front of Lincoln’s portrait, on the coin’s right side. While Lincoln cent mint marks appear below the date, there is no mark here since this coin was struck in Philadelphia.
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 in smaller type, is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The edge of the 1929 Lincoln cent is smooth or plain, without reeding or edge lettering.
Victor David Brenner, born in Lithuania in 1871, immigrated to New York at the age of 19. The classically trained sculptor built a group of clients, which included the future president Theodore Roosevelt. Having previously created a medallion of Lincoln, Brenner was contracted by Roosevelt in 1908 to use one of his previous images of the 16th president for a new design of the cent. At the time of his death, Brenner had carved over 125 different medals, sculptures, and coins (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||1929|
|Denomination:||One Cent (USD)|
|Mint Mark:||None (Philadelphia)|
|Alloy:||95% Copper, 5% Tin and Zinc|
|OBV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
|REV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
* * *