HomeUS Coins1944-D Lincoln Cent : A Collector's Guide

1944-D Lincoln Cent : A Collector’s Guide

1944-D Lincoln Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1944-D Lincoln Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

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

After a year where each of the three mints produced one cent coins on experimental zinc-coated steel planchets, the bronze cent returned for 1944. The 1944-D Lincoln Cent has a mintage of 430,578,000 pieces – a massive sum, but only one third of the sum of Lincoln Cents struck that year at the Philadelphia Mint.

The Treasury Department couldn’t wait to put an end to the steel cent, which did not perform up to expectations. On December 15, 1943, the Treasury notified the public of the shift back to the bronze cent. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the necessary authorizations three days later.

Production of a 95% copper -5% zinc coin commenced on January 1, 1944. The United States Mint purportedly used spent brass cartridges from the Pacific to strike the new cents, but numismatic researcher David W. Lange has suggested that reclaimed war materials likely only comprised a portion of the copper used to strike coins in 1944.

How Much Is the 1944-D Lincoln Cent in Copper Worth?

The 1944-D Lincoln Cent was released into circulation the year of its production and remained in circulation until well after the 1959 transition from the Wheat Cent to the Memorial Cent. Even as attrition ran its course, large quantities of the date were held back to be sold as generic wheaties. To this day, the 1944 and 1944-D regularly turn up in circulated grades in “unsearched rolls” or generic pre-1950 cent lots.

A run-of-the-mill circulated example might sell on eBay for between 50¢ and $1. In Mint State Red, however, the value of the 1944-D Lincoln cent increases to about $12.50 in MS65RD and about $150 in MS67RD. Uncirculated rolls in original Red survive and are frequently listed on eBay for prices starting at $50.

Mint State Gems in Red are common up to the grade of MS67. In recent years, the population of MS67+RD coins has increased steadily, and as a result the prices have dropped dramatically for these premium Gems. Coins that sold for $1,200 to $1,500 ten years ago have more recently sold for $300 – $400. Fewer than ten coins have been certified as MS68RD by the leading grading services. At the present time, there is a wide disparity in the prices realized between PCGS, CACG, and NGC, with PCGS coins and PCGS + CAC coins selling for a premium.

We expect continued increases in the certified population of the 1944-D Lincoln Cent, and even though most coins will grade MS66RD or below, some will grade MS67+RD or MS68RD. In our review of recent auction listings, most examples have some degree of spotting.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS68RD (3, 6/2024), NGC MS68RD (5, 6/2024), and CAC MS67RD (90:1 stickered:graded, 6/2024).

  • NGC MS68RD #4834016-002: GreatCollections, November 5, 2023, Lot 1443663 – View.
  • PCGS MS68RD #46639839: GreatCollections, June 25, 2023, Lot 1338451 – $12,947.62.
  • NGC MS68RD #4920535-002: GreatCollections, August 30, 2020, Lot 671590 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+RD #41419683: GreatCollections, August 8, 2021, Lot 1033684 – View; GreatCollections, October 9, 2022, Lot 1240673 – View; Heritage Auctions, November 6, 2023, Lot 92153 – $960. Color is mellowing.
  • PCGS MS67+RD #25628166: Jerald L. Martin; Heritage Auctions, January 22, 2019, Lot 27099 – $312; Heritage Auctions, March 15, 2022, Lot 25097 – $396. Jerald L. Martin Collection on insert.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #25627793: Heritage Auctions, June 8, 2016, Lot 3166 – $705; Heritage Auctions, May 9, 2022, Lot 46103 – $481.20. Copper spot above R of LIBERTY.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #35811378: GreatCollections, October 14, 2018, Lot 621359 – View; “The ACW Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 11, 2019, Lot 25206 – $396.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #83889629: Heritage Auctions, December 12, 2017, Lot 23772 – $456; GreatCollections, April 7, 2019, Lot 685348 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+RD #82902366: Heritage Auctions, July 9, 2017, Lot 23073 – $399.50.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #25626525: GreatCollections, February 7, 2016, Lot 335014 – View; Heritage Auctions, June 4, 2017, Lot 21036 – $493.50. Clean coin all around. Tiny tick on N of CENT.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #25627794: Heritage Auctions, July 7, 2016, Lot 3143 – $470; “The Centurion Collection,”  GreatCollections, February 25, 2018, Lot 536762 – View; “The Bellewood Collection of Lincoln Cents,” GreatCollections, March 14, 2021, Lot 950282 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #25628165: Heritage Auctions, April 28, 2016, Lot 3853 – $1,292.50; “The GL & SL Stonebarger Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 22, 2021, Lot 27180 – $396. Diagonal hit below IN GOD.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #25658391: Heritage Auctions, December 4, 2015, Lot 3605 – $998.75.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #31592220: Heritage Auctions, July 10, 2015, Lot 3528 – $2,350. Tiny copper spot above IB of LIBERTY. Tiny tick to the right of Lincoln’s mouth.
  • PCGS MS67+RD CAC #25380765: Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2013, Lot 3109 – $1,233.75.

1944-D Varieties

Several interesting 1944-D Lincoln Cent varieties have been identified. The leading grading services will generally certify popular varieties listed in the Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins. Additional varieties are enumerated in the CONECA Master List.

1944-D Lincoln Cent. Doubled Die Obverse. FS-101

Distortion is visible on the date, which is thicker than normal, and in LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST.

  • PCGS MS66RD #46329556: Heritage Auctions, November 6, 2023, Lot 92154 – $516.

1944-D/D Lincoln Cent. FS-502

1944-D/D FS-502. Image: Heritage Auctions.
1944-D/D Lincoln Cent. FS-502. Image: Heritage Auctions.

The under D is positioned slightly higher than the prominent D mintmark. This is a fairly common variety.

  • PCGS MS67RD CAC #16862633: Heritage Auctions, September 8, 2011, Lot 3222 – $2,300.

1944-D/S Lincoln Cent. FS-511

1944-D/S FS-511. The remnants of the S mintmark can be seen under and slightly above the D. Image: Heritage Auctions.
1944-D/S Lincoln Cent. FS-511. Image: Heritage Auctions.

CONECA OMM-001. This overmintmark variety is easily recognized under magnification as remnants of the S mintmark can be seen underneath and slightly above the D. This variety was discovered in 1962 by Delma K. Romines and is rare in Mint State Red. Guide Book variety.

  • CACG MS67RD #355086936: As PCGS MS67RD CAC #37718128: GreatCollections, October 10, 2021, Lot 705920 – $30,949.88. As CACG #355086936. GreatCollections, March 31, 2024, Lot 1560137 – $21,937.50.
  • PCGS MS67RD #45723911: As PCGS MS67RD #18397321. “The Bender Family Collection — Post-1932 Lincoln Cents,” Heritage Auctions, December 15, 2022, Lot 3334 – $15,600. Bender Collection on insert. As PCGS MS67RD #45723911. Heritage Auctions, November 6, 2023, Lot 92157 – $23,400. Bender Collection on insert. Copper spot between Y of LIBERTY and Lincoln’s coat. On the reverse, there is a copper spot present between the two Ns of ONE CENT.
  • PCGS MS66+RD CAC #04021790: Heritage Auctions, January 13, 2022, Lot 3228 – $10,800. Diagonal hit across jaw. Diagonal mark at 3:30. Small copper spot at 8 o’clock on the reverse. Diagonal dark mark below R of AMERICA. Two small discoloration spots above NE of CENT.
  • PCGS MS66RD #9851054: Heritage Auctions, January 21, 2021, Lot 3369 – $1,560. Dark splotch above LIBERTY. Scattered copper spots across the obverse. On the reverse, multiple hits on the O of ONE.
  • PCGS MS66RD #35366878: “The ACW Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 7, 2019, Lot 3485 – $1,800; Heritage Auctions, October 18, 2019, Lot 3447 – $2,640. Copper spot below B of LIBERTY. Two copper spots at the top of Lincoln’s head. Diagonal streak above LIBERTY. Copper spot in right obverse field to the right of Lincoln’s beard. On the reverse, scattered copper spots.
  • NGC MS66RD #4345239-001: Heritage Auctions, April 27, 2018, Lot 4607 – $3,360; Heritage Auctions, January 31, 2019, Lot 3132 – $2,280; Heritage Auctions, June 7, 2019, Lot 3484 – $1,800; GreatCollections, December 15, 2019, Lot 778366 – View. Copper splotch at the tip of the lapel. Copper spots at the rim at 8 o’clock. Another copper spot at rim just above 3 o’clock. Small ticks on beard. Small diagonal hit on cheek. Not strong for the grade.
  • PCGS MS66RD #34359831: Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2018, Lot 4156 – $4,080. Thin diagonal ticks in left obverse field. On the reverse, there is a large dark copper splotch at 4 o’clock to wheat kernel.
  • PCGS MS66RD CAC #84234278: Heritage Auctions, August 2, 2017, Lot 3900 – $8,225.
  • PCGS MS66RD CAC #4302823: Heritage Auctions, July 12, 2012, Lot 3225 – $13,800. Copper spot below left wheat kernel.
  • PCGS MS66RD #12460114: “The Jack Lee Estate Collection, Lincoln Cent Registry Set” Heritage Auctions, December 4, 2008, Lot 245 – $15,525; Heritage Auctions, February 2009, Lot 529; Heritage Auctions, February 3, 2011, Lot 3146 – $16,100. Jack Lee on insert. Discoloration to the right of Lincoln’s forehead.
  • PCGS MS66RD #06820575: “The Jack Lee Estate Collection,” Heritage Auctions, February 5, 2009, Lot 529 – $9,200.
  • NGC MS66RD #956171-011: Heritage Auctions, February 16, 2008, Lot 3235 – $1,495. Scattered copper spots throughout the obverse and reverse.
  • PCGS MS66RD #3527623: Heritage Auctions, September 26, 2002, Lot 5625 – $10,062.50. Light discoloration at and above N of ONE.

1944-D/S Lincoln Cent. FS-512

1944-D/S FS-512. Image: Heritage Auctions.
1944-D/S Lincoln Cent. FS-512. Image: Heritage Auctions.

CONECA OMM-002. A weaker D/S overmintmark variety. Glass may be necessary to see the faint S that protrudes slightly to the left of the D mintmark.

  • PCGS MS67+RD #35345934: Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2019, Lot 3136 – $8,400. Two small hits at Lincoln’s temple. Small copper spot in left obverse field at 10 o’clock.
  • PCGS MS66RD #81082366: Heritage Auctions, July 7, 2016, Lot 3144 – $940.
  • PCGS MS66RD #33329225: Heritage Auctions, March 3, 2016, Lot 3565 – $1,351.25.
  • PCGS MS66RD CAC #25308331: Heritage Auctions, July 10, 2014, Lot 3094 – $2,115.
  • PCGS MS65RD #25384151: Heritage Auctions, December 5, 2013, Lot 3127 – $1,527.50.
  • PCGS MS65RD #06635833: Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2011, Lot 4256 – $3,450.
  • NGC MS65RD #1611470-006: “The Brenda John Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 3, 2010, Lot 171 – $1,495. Discoloration at 9 o’clock and between the 44.
  • PCGS MS65RD #12400082: Heritage Auctions, July 9, 2009, Lot 160 – $10,350. Carbon staining along the left obverse field.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1944
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mintmark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 430,578,000
Alloy: 95% Copper, 5% 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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1944-D Lincoln Cent Struck on Steel

1944-D Lincoln Cent struck on a zinc-plated steel planchet. Image: Heritage Auctions.
1944-D Lincoln Cent struck on a zinc-plated steel planchet. Image: Heritage Auctions.

Possibly, 10 or more examples exist. The 1944 Lincoln Steel Cent was discovered in 1945 by collector Richard Fenton. The Fenton example was struck at the Philadelphia Mint and was one of perhaps 25 to 30 known to be struck on the 1943 zinc-plated steel planchets in error and released into circulation. The 1944-D Lincoln Steel Cent (along with the scarcer 1943-S) was also struck on planchets authorized for use in 1943 and released into circulation by mistake. The second example was discovered in California in 1966 by collector Robert Collins.

The 1944 Lincoln Steel Cents are important 20th-century error coins analogous to the 1943 Lincoln Copper Cent errors. However, collectors didn’t always share this sentiment, as examples sold for a fraction of their current value 20 years ago. This error coin was ranked #15 in Nicholas Brown, David Camire, and Fred Weinberg’s 100 Greatest 100 U.S. Error Coins.

Collector Bob R. Simpson assembled a first-of-its-kind collection of 1943 and 1944 P-D-S off-metal strike Lincoln Cents. Collector Brenda John owned two examples of the 1944-D Lincoln Steel Cent.

Top Population: PCGS MS63 (1, 6/2024), NGC MS62 (1, 6/2024), and CAC MS62 (1:0 stickered:graded, 6/2024).

  • PCGS MS63 #26578316: Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2013, Lot 5548 – $82,250; Heritage Auctions, August 9, 2013, Lot 5522 – $79,312.50. Die crack at Lincoln’s hairline. Planchet void below T of CENT. Spot above the N of UNITED.
  • PCGS MS62 CAC #18523807: As NGC MS63 #1585391-001. Heritage Auctions, August 9, 2007, Lot 1583 – $115,000. As PCGS MS62 CAC #18523807. “The Bob R. Simpson Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2016, Lot 5271 – $54,050. Downgraded by one point by PCGS. Simpson on insert. Spot on the reverse below the gap between F and A. Plate coin for this profile.
  • NGC MS62 #1578007-001: Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2008, Lot 2715 – $92,000. Diagonal scratch across hair, forehead, and the right obverse field. Dark spot to the right of the second A of AMERICA.
  • NGC MS61 #3389664-001: Roberty Collins, Discovered in California in 1966; Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2012, Lot 3069 – $58,201.50. All over dingy toning. Light diagonal streak across the obverse. The second 1944-D Steel Cent discovered.
  • NGC AU55 #1582235-001: “The Brenda John Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 3, 2010, Lot 170 – $60,375. Scattered spots on the left side of the obverse. Small planchet void in the left obverse field above IB. Grey blob below U of TRUST. Grey blow below R of URIBUS. Tiny tick above M of AMERICA. scattered rust-colored toning.
  • ANACS AU55 #XA7378: Heritage Auctions, May 31, 2007, Lot 265 – $69,000. Dark planchet with wispy sand-colored areas on the obverse periphery. There is a dark blob to the right of the date.
  • PCGS AU53 #90056882: “The Alfred V. Melson Collection, Part I,” Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2010, Lot 2446 – $32,200; “The Brenda John Collection,” Heritage Auctions, July 8, 2010, Lot 3153 – $37,375; Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2011, Lot 5444 – $37,375; “The Geyer Family Collection,” Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2013, Lot 3514 – $30,550. Scattered dark spots on the reverse, including a large blob to the right of E and a smaller one to the left of the right wheat kernel.
  • ANACS AU50 #PG9738: Heritage Auctions, May 10, 2007, Lot 2036 – $34,500. Spotting above O of ONE and on A of STATES. Two thin diagonal streaks across the obverse.
  • NGC AU Details – Cleaned #6833851-002: Heritage Auctions, November 16, 2023, Lot 3016 – $21,600.
  • NCS AU Details #5269399-001: As ANACS AU Details #726204. Heritage Auctions, June 1, 2001, Lot 7745 – $4,140; Heritage Auctions, April 17, 2008, Lot 2246 – $28,750. As NGC AU Details #5269399-001. Heritage Auctions, July 7, 2011, Lot 3171 – $23,000; Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2012, Lot 3068 – $10,350. Damaged planchet. Numerous test cuts at the bottom of the obverse rim (and top of the reverse rim).

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1944
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mintmark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 7-10 are known
Alloy: Zinc-coated Steel
Weight: 2.7 g
Diameter: 19.0 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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