Description:The first year issue of perhaps one of the most popular and enduring designs in US Coinage. The new coin featured a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the front and two “ears” of wheat on the back. The designers initials “VDB” were placed near the rim on the reverse. A total mintage of 24,479,000 coins came from the Philadelphia Mint, so examples can be found at all grade levels. However a much smaller mintage was generated from the San Francisco Mint which produced only 484,000 coins

Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

The 1909-S VDB enjoys a constant level of popularity from collectors because of its relatively low mintage, first year of issue status, and the only year the designer’s initials were placed on the lower reverse.

Citing the famous ’09-S VDB in his book, Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, Walter Breen writes that John Zug, an early 20th century coin dealer, bought 25,000 (five bags) of these coins from the San Francisco Mint at issue and resold them at 1 3/4 cents apiece around 1918. This is just one of many stories that might be told about this famous issue.

Chief Engraver Charles Barber is often portrayed as a jealous (and even villainous) figure by imaginative numismatic writers, especially when the subject concerned designs from outside artists. Barber is frequently credited with the prompt removal of the ‘prominent’ V.D.B. initials from the reverse; they returned to the Cent on Lincoln’s shoulder in 1918, after Barber’s demise.


Designer: Victor David Brenner
Mintage: Philadelpha Mint 28,479,000 – San Francisco Mint 484,000 : Matt Proofs 420
Denomintion: One Cent
Diameter: 19 millimeters
Metal content: 95% copper – 5% Tin and Zinc
Weight: 48 grains (3.11 grams)


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