A top-population 1944-D/S Lincoln cent is currently drawing strong interest from collectors at a GreatCollections Certified Coin Auctions sale. With less than four days to go, the lot has received 34 bids and reached a price of $24,000 ($27,000 with Buyer’s Premium). It is likely to garner even more interest from bidders in the days to come.
So what do you need to know about this coin before placing a bid and what will its sale price mean for the market? Let’s find out.
The 1944-D/S Lincoln Cent: What Is It?
The 1944-D/S is a Lincoln cent struck at the Denver Mint in 1944. The coin is unusual in that the die that was used exhibits the remnants of an “S” mintmark. The “S” mintmark was (and still is) used for coins struck at the San Francisco Mint.
At the time that this die was created, mintmarks were punched by hand onto dies by the United States Mint’s engraving department at the main mint location in Philadelphia. Afterward, the finished dies were furnished to the branch mints at Denver and San Francisco.
In this instance, the engraver made an initial punch of an “S” on a die intended for Denver. Subsequent punches were of the correct “D” mintmark. This is the scarcer of the two D/S over mintmark varieties listed for the date in Fivaz and Stanton’s 6th Edition of the Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Varieties of United States Coins and can be easily attributed under light magnification.
The 1944-D/S’s Market Value
Even in high circulated grades, the 1944-D/S is worth a significant premium over face value (the approximate value of a circulated 1944-D cent). Expect to pay $75 to $100 for one in grades up to Extra Fine.
Mint State and certified coins are usually viewed through the prism of Brown, Red Brown, and Red designations. These colors refer to the present appearance of the surface of the coin. As copper is a highly reactive metal, exposure to air has the potential to strip the coin of its original brightness and either tone it in an array of beautiful colors, or turn the surface color brown. People are well familiar with this process as new cents come bright and shiny red, while older ones exhibit a chocolate color.
As vintage original red coins are by many degrees scarcer than brown ones, red cents carry the highest premium.
The example that GreatCollections has on offer is bright red and in the top population grade of MS67, according to PCGS. It shares this grade with one other coin and both coins are illustrated on PCGS CoinFacts.
Interestingly, CoinFacts offers a deeper insight into the coin than one usually finds. Scrolling through the TrueViews, one finds the exact same coin three times in the grade MS66+. The cert numbers previously registered to the coin are 35585781, 35781943, and 3530900.
Incrementally, in terms of quality, the difference between a high-end 66 and a 67 is nominal, and there’s no shame in PCGS applying conservative standards when considering this coin. It is important to note that CAC has given its blessing to the coin at the MS67 grade.
With only two examples of the 1944-D/S Lincoln cent graded at this level, each auction price realized presents only a snapshot of what a particular example brought at a particular time. While we believe the final hammer price will be well over $30,000, there is no real way to predict what the price should be.
In 2013, Heritage Auctions sold a PCGS MS66+RD 1944-D/S for $21,150 – nearly double the price that MS66RDs were selling for at the time. Since then, the prices paid for PCGS MS66RD 1944-D/S cents has fallen dramatically. The most recent sale, conducted in January 2018, saw one bring just $4,080. We like that coin far more than the CAC-approved one that sold in August 2017 for $8,225.
The current bid of $24,000 is incrementally ahead of the 2013 MS66+RD price. Where it lands will tell you a lot about the winning bidder’s collecting aspirations and less so about the market. For us to get a true gauge of the present “value” of this top pop coin, we will need to see how the two top pop coins perform at public auction over time.
Consider Sunday’s sale an important data point in the construction of that market insight.