The 1969-S Lincoln Memorial cent is collected by many people for many reasons.
Among Lincoln cent enthusiasts, the coin is, at the very least, coveted for its merits as a business-strike and Proof issue produced by the San Francisco Mint and serves as a necessary addition to a date-and-mintmark series collection.
For die variety aficionados, the 1969-S Lincoln cent is the canvas for one of the most popular and scarcest doubled die varieties ever produced.
For others still, the 1969-S Lincoln cent is a relic from a year that saw the famous Woodstock music festival in upstate New York, the landing of the first men on the Moon, and intense battles in the Vietnam War.
As a regular-issue business strike, the 1969-S Lincoln cent is not a particularly scarce issue. More than a half-billion 1969-S Lincoln cents were struck and released into general circulation, where they are found in dwindling numbers today. Many individuals who are not aware of this coin’s high mintage believe the 1969-S cent is a rare coin mainly due to its seemingly unusual “S” mintmark – something most non-collectors would not typically encounter. Perhaps contributing to the perceived rarity of the 1969-S Lincoln cent is the fact that this issue and many other “S”-mint Lincoln Memorial cents have been pulled from circulation, many on the misnomer that these are particularly scarce coins.
All 1969-S Lincoln Memorial cents are worth more than face value due to their intrinsic copper content, which at present is illegal to obtain through melting the coin but is nevertheless worth about two cents in the bullion perspective. Uncirculated 1969-S Lincoln cents are plentiful in all but the highest Mint State grades. Also of value are the 1969-S Proof Lincoln cents, which are generally worth a few dollars in typical grades. By far the most valuable 1969-S cent is the business-strike doubled die variety, which is considered one of the rarest doubled die coins of the modern era.
The obverse of the 1969-S Lincoln cent was designed some 60 years earlier by sculptor Victor David Brenner, whose initials VDB appear in tiny print under the shoulder of Abraham Lincoln’s bust (which clearly dominates the front side of the coin). The right-facing profile of Lincoln shows the 16th president during his time as the nation’s commander in chief at the height of the Civil War, which spanned from 1861 through 1865, the latter being the year President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
To the right of Lincoln is the date 1969, and centered under the date is the “S” mintmark of the San Francisco Mint. Behind Lincoln’s head is the inscription LIBERTY. Centered along the upper rim of the coin, in an arc over Lincoln’s head, is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST.
The reverse of the 1969-S Lincoln Memorial cent is anchored by an elevation view of the iconic Washington, D.C. memorial dedicated to the iconic president. The relatively high detail of the Lincoln Memorial design is sharp enough to reveal a tiny visage of Lincoln sitting in his chair, replicating the 19-foot-tall statue visitors will encounter inside the actual monument, which was dedicated in 1922.
Below the image of the Lincoln Memorial is the coin’s denomination, ONE CENT, and along the top center of the rim is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM is inscribed in two lines under the legend and above the Lincoln Memorial design. Designer Frank Gasparro’s “FG” initials are seen at the bottom right of the Lincoln Memorial just above a shrub.
The edge of the 1969-S Lincoln Memorial cent is smooth, without inscriptions.
The 1969-S Doubled Die Lincoln Cent
According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), it is believed that approximately 100 of these doubled die cents were released into circulation. On authentic 1969-S doubled die coins, doubling will be seen on the date and most areas of lettering, most especially in the inscriptions LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. One area of the obverse where one doubling will not be seen is in the “S” mintmark, which was punched onto the die separately.
Circulated 1969-S doubled die cents are generally worth $10,000 USD and up, while uncirculated specimens typically sell for $35,000 to $50,000 or more. The highest price realized to date is $126,500 – the amount paid during a Heritage Auctions event in January 2008 for a Red, Mint State 64 specimen of this highly sought-after variety. Several counterfeit specimens of the 1969-S doubled die cent were produced in 1969, and some may still survive.
It is therefore recommended that individuals who believe they possess a 1969-S doubled die Lincoln cent should have their coin certified to verify its authenticity. Similar suggestions apply to those who wish to buy a 1969-S doubled die Lincoln cent. In today’s world of convincing counterfeits, there is no good reason that any authentic 1969-S doubled die cent should ever be bought or sold unless encapsulated in sonically sealed plastic from a major, reputable third-party coin certification service.
Victor David Brenner was a notable sculptor and engraver who emigrated to the United States from Lithuania (View Designer’s Profile). Frank Gasparro was the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1965 to 1981 (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||1969|
|Mint Mark:||S (San Francisco)|
|Mintage:||544,375,000 (Business Strike); 2,934,631 (Proof); 100 (Doubled Die, estimated)|
|Alloy:||95% Copper, 5% Zinc|
|OBV Designer||Victor David Brenner|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
|Quality:||Business Strike, Proof|