The superb quality of the 1916 Lincoln cent is well known amongst enthusiasts. New hubs had been prepared for the 1916 issue, and many of the resulting coins resemble Proof strikes and have squared rims. The current example being offered by GreatCollections.com, encapsulated in a Secure Shield holder, is the sole MS-68 Red (RD) so far certified by PCGS. It is one half a point better than 39 examples the company has graded MS-67+ RD to date (pop 17 in 2020).
Despite the rising number of 67+ coins, 1916 cents in that grade have trended up in value in recent years. Two recent sales notched prices of $6,600 and $5,520 USD.
With 131 million struck, the 1916 is a type coin amongst the pre-1930 early issues. Choice Mint State Red coins routinely sell for $100 or less. Gems for $300 or less. At this state of preservation, a value multiplier will likely be in effect–with $10,000 to $15,000 being likely. PCGS CoinFacts suggests a price of $50,000, but that pricing level is unsupported by any market data.
At the time of writing, the high bid is $5,250 USD after nine bids. Bidding for this item ends on Sunday, April 9, at 4:20:03 Pacific Time (7:20:03 Eastern).
Background of the Lincoln Wheat Cent
The Lincoln cent (1909 to present) 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 beloved presidents in the country’s history. First released in 1909, the Lincoln cent was issued in time for the centennial of Lincoln’s birth.
The first year of the design includes the issues that prominently display on the reverse the initials of the designer, Victor David 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.
Millions of business strike Lincoln Wheat cents were produced almost every year of the series’ run (1909-1958). Collector demand grew slowly, not taking off until the low-mintage 1931-S–along with the advent of collecting boards–was widely publicized in the early 1930s.
For most of those years, the Lincoln cent was made of a bronze alloy, 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.
Frank Gasparro designed the 1959 Lincoln Memorial reverse that replaced the original 1909 Brenner wheat stalk design.
On the obverse, Victor David 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. At the top of the design, wrapping around the rim, is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST”. Thelegend “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 sides 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, is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The edge is plain.
Bidding on this 1916 Lincoln cent ends on Sunday, April 9, at 4:20 PT (7:20 ET).
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