Matte Proof 1910 Lincoln Cent at GreatCollections Much Scarcer Than Commonly Understood

By CoinWeek ….
 

On Sunday, April 5, bidding ends on GreatCollections.com for this 1910 Lincoln Proof cent, graded PR-67 RD by PCGS and approved by CAC.

Of the scarce Matte Proofs issued from 1909 through 1916, the 1910 has the highest official mintage at 4,118 (all the rest are under 3,000 to lesser and greater extents). This should mean that, relatively speaking, it is the most “common” and therefore “available” of the early Proof Lincoln Wheat cents. But according to PCGS, which reports having graded fewer than 500 of the 1910 Proofs in over 30 years of operation, the actual survival rate may be much lower than Mint records suggest.

Add to that the pieces that have retained their original red color as exemplified by the current example, and the collector is now looking at a coin whose scarcity is practically the inverse of what the guide books say. PCGS lists only five grading events at Proof 67 Red, with two higher in 67+.

The most recent auction records for PCGS-graded Proof 67s go back over 15 years. One example sold in August 2004 went for $25,500 USD, while another specimen sold in March of the previous year went for $36,800.

At the time of writing, the high bid for this PCGS/CAC PR-67 RD 1910 Matte Proof Lincoln cent is $18,500 after 30 bids.

If you want to check out GreatCollections for more information about prior sales, be sure to check out the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.

Background of the Lincoln Wheat Cent

The Lincoln cent (1909 to present) is and has been a favorite of collectors for many decades. It was the first circulating U.S. coin to feature the likeness of a real person: 16th president Abraham Lincoln, one of the most respected and admired presidents in this country’s history. First issued in 1909, the Lincoln cent was released in time for the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

And with but a few exceptions, millions (if not billions in more modern times) of Lincoln cents have been issued each year. Combined with its low face value, it is a coin that almost anyone can collect, including kids and others of more modest means. On the other hand, the series contains enough rarities and varieties to hold the interest of the serious numismatist.

And the Lincoln cent is perhaps one of the few coin types whose rarities have become well-known even to those members of the general public who are not collectors. Many who wouldn’t know the difference between Draped Bust and Capped Bust types (and, more to the point, wouldn’t care) have nevertheless probably heard of the 1909-S VDB and the 1955 Doubled Die Obverse ‘pennies’ – and maybe even the 1943 copper cent.

The first year of the design includes the issues that prominently display on the reverse the initials of the designer, Victor D. Brenner – which caused controversy at the time of release, even though designers initials had previously been placed on U.S. coins. Because those initials were subsequently removed (and then reinstated in a less conspicuous location on the obverse in 1918), the 1909 V.D.B. and 1909-S V.D.B. cents are considered a separate type.

Lincoln cents were made of a bronze alloy in most years, with a couple of variations during the years of World War II. Because copper was a critical war material, cents in 1943 were produced on zinc-coated steel planchets. That resulted in the inadvertent creation of two Lincoln cent rarities, the first being the copper cents dated 1943, and the second being the steel cents dated 1944. From 1944 through 1946, cents were produced from reused shell cases, whose bronze composition was nearly identical to the original issues minus the tin.

Millions of business strike Wheat Lincoln cents were produced almost every year of the type’s run (1909-1958). Collector interest in the type grew slowly, not taking off until the low-mintage 1931-S was extensively publicized, along with the advent of collecting boards in the early 1930s.

Frank Gasparro designed the 1959 Lincoln Memorial reverse that replaced the original 1909 Brenner wheat stalk design.

Design

On the obverse, Brenner’s portrait of 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 appears slightly lower, in front of Lincoln’s portrait, on the coin’s right side.

On the 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: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

The edge is plain.
 

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