By CoinWeek ….
For any first-year-of-issue Lincoln cent from the San Francisco Mint, it is hard to escape the shadow of the V.D.B. type on which the coin’s designer, Victor David Brenner, placed his initials at the bottom of the reverse. And coin collectors have until Sunday, January 2, to take advantage of the offering at GreatCollections.com of a 1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln cent, graded MS-64 Red Brown (RB) by PCGS and secured in a gold shield holder.
Brenner’s initials were, of course, swiftly removed from the design by the United States Mint and not replaced for nine years. And while the 1909-S mintage of 1.825 million is low for the Lincoln cent series in general, only 484,000 V.D.B. pennies were struck in San Francisco. But because the V.D.B. was more frequently saved by collectors and the general public at the beginning of the Lincoln cent’s first year of issue, it is harder to find 1909-S cents without the V.D.B. in Mint State grades.
As of the end of December 2021, PCGS has graded 2,032 examples of the 1909-S V.D.B. at MS-64 RB. The next-highest population is at MS-65, with 1,022 certified. In higher Mint State, however, PCGS-graded populations drop off sharply, with only 92 at MS-66, two at MS-66+, and a single specimen at the top pop of MS-67 RB. Yet while these few higher-graded pieces can sell for five-figure prices, MS-64 coins nonetheless see heavy demand. Over the course of the last year, examples of the MS-64 RB cent have sold between $2,280 USD in June and $3,480 in November, with an average of about $2,572 for the 20 auction records listed for 2021, according to PCGS.
For the current offering from GreatCollections, eight bids have been recorded at the time of writing – the highest of which is $2,005.78. The lot has been viewed 419 times and 21 GreatCollections members are tracking the sale, which closes on January 2 at 7:11:52 PM Eastern Time. To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years, please visit their Auction Archives.
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 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.
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, 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”. “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. The mint mark “S” is below the date.
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.