Over Labor Day weekend we had the pleasure of spending some time in Springfield, IL and taking in a few of the Abraham Lincoln Sites. One thing is certain; there is an awful lot of Lincoln memorabilia that is available to collect!
However if space is at a premium for you, yet you love Lincoln and love collecting coins, you have all the makings of a start to a great collection.
Did you know that the Lincoln Cent is one of the most widely collected coins in America? After reading our blog post, you will know the history of the coin, mintages of the coin, as well as which rare coins to be on the lookout for.
History of the Lincoln Penny:
The Lincoln Penny was released in 1909 to celebrate the anniversary of his 100th birthday. Prior to the Lincoln Penny being released, the US Mint had never featured an actual person on a coin.
It is said that President George Washington is said to have refused to allow his likeness to be put on a coin. According to www.lincolnpennies.net, Washington felt, and most agreed for decades, that a portrait of a real individual was too similar to the practice of using images of royalty on coins used by the monarchal governments of Europe. The only consistent portrait used on US coins was that of the mythical Liberty.
The look of US Coins was changed forever when President Roosevelt introduced the Lincoln Penny. Roosevelt felt that coins were a bit boring, drab and just lacking in the inspiration department. He wanted coins to showcase the fact the United States was becoming a world power. Additionally Roosevelt felt that US owed a sense of gratitude to Lincoln who had led the country through the dark days of the Civil War. As well, Lincoln was a fellow Republican.
The image of Abraham Lincoln was designed by sculptor Victor David Brenner who came to the US in 1890 after fleeing his homeland of Lithuania where he was being persecuted for his Jewish ancestry.
History is open to interpretation on how Brenner was chosen for this commission, however we do know that Roosevelt sat for Brenner in late 1908, and it appears that they may have discussed Roosevelt’s plan for the Lincoln penny during this time. Roosevelt was also an admirer of a 1907 plaque of Lincoln which Brenner had produced. We do know that in January of 1909 Mint Director Frank Leach contacted Brenner to ask his fee for designing the coin.
The design on the obverse is quite similar to what Brenner used in his other pieces that featured Lincoln. Numismatic historian Roger Burdette suggests that this depiction is based on an 1864 photograph taken of Lincoln at Matthew Brady’s studio.
After a couple of design changes, Brenner used two ears of durum wheat for the reverse side of the coin and on February 17th, Brenner delivered models for both the obverse and reverse. The coin was approved after a few more design changes were made. One of the design changes made were the removal of Brenner’s surname on the obverse of the coin. Brenner agreed to take it out and put it in small letters on the reverse. Another change that would additionally be made was the adding of the motto “In God We Trust”
By May 26th, samples of the new coin with the motto as well as without were shown to President Taft (Roosevelt had left office by this time), Taft chose the mottoed version of the coin, were it was finally approved by the Secretary of the State. A release date of August 2, 1909 was set for the coin.
Coin Release & Controversy:
For many in the south, the Civil War was anything but a distant memory and many Southerners were strongly opposed to honoring Lincoln in this manner.
Others felt that the Indian Head pennies had been in circulation since 1859 and was one of the most famous of the US Coins and saw no reason to change it.
Lastly, the issue about those initials of Brenner’s caused such a public outcry that within a week, President Taft ordered all the initials except the “B” removed. Brenner’s initials were moved to just below the “bevel” just below Lincoln’s shoulders on the obverse, slightly to the left of center when looking at the coin, in letters so small, that to this day you need a very strong magnifier and almost a brand new penny to see.
Varieties of Lincoln Pennies
Wheat Cent Design (1909-1958)
Lincoln Memorial Design (1959-2008)
Marking the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, the reverse side changes from durum wheat to the Lincoln Memorial.
Lincoln Bicentennial Penny 2009
2009 brought not only the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, but also the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Penny as well.
While the obverse didn’t change, the reverse depicted four different images of Lincoln’s life. These coins were issued about 3 months apart from each other.
Lincoln Shield Reverse 2010-???
7 Rare Lincoln Pennies
1909 S V.D.B. Wheat Penny
The 1909 S VDB is one of the coins from the modern era. Only 484,000 of these coins were struck. The 1909 S (San Francisco) V.D.B. (initials of the designer) wheat penny is always brings in top dollar, regardless of the grade of the coin. Those VDB initials stand for Victor David Brenner and they are found on the reverse, centered below the wheat stalks.
1909 S Wheat Penny
Another 1909 San Francisco issue that is considered quite scarce. Collector demand is quite high for the 1909 S wheat penny. With a mintage of 1,825,000, the 1909 S is a very rare and there are many, many folks who would love to get one of these into their collections.
1914 D Wheat Penny
The 1914D Lincoln cent is one of those pennies that just keeps getting more expensive as time goes along. Only a million of these pennies were struck and always in demand, regardless of the grade of the coin.
1922 “Plain” Wheat Penny
When there is no mintmark on a coin, you oftentimes get a coin that is highly sought after. That’s what happened when a small number of the 7,160,000 Lincoln wheat pennies the Denver mint produced in 1922 never received a “D” under the date on their cents thanks to a problem with the die.
Caution though…….there are some folks who will “help” the “D” mintmark wear off, causing some folks to think they have found this rare coin.
. The San Francisco mint struck only 866,000 Lincoln pennies in 1931, which means there are many folks who are looking to add one of these pennies to their collections.
1943 Bronze Wheat Penny
In 1943, the U.S. Mint struck pennies out of steel to help ration copper for military purposes. However, a few 1943 Lincoln pennies wound up being struck in bronze, and these rare mistakes are worth a pretty penny indeed. Some 1943 bronze pennies have sold for over $100K at auction.
1955 Doubled Die Obverse Wheat Penny
As with the 1922 “plain” coin mentioned above, the 1955 Double Die obverse coin was for all intents and purposes was an “oops!” or “error” coin. As a result it is one of the most popular “rare” Lincoln pennies for many collectors. While there were more 330,000,000 struck at the Philadelphia mint, only a small percent of these received the doubling of the obverse design, making it a valuable find, regardless of the lowest grade.
To obtain current pricing on the Lincoln pennies mentioned above, head to http://www.pcgs.com/prices/
And lastly we wanted to share some fun facts and even quotes about the penny……these facts are courtesy of Coins the Fun Times Guide.
#1 – Did you know that average penny lasts about 25 years!
#2 – Pennies were the very first coins minted in the United States. In March 1793, the mint distributed 11,178 copper cents
#3 – The penny has had 11 different designs.
#5 – Lincoln faces to the right, while all other portraits on coins face to the left. This was not done on purpose — it was simply the choice of the coin designer.
To read the entire list, please visit: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/.
• A bad penny always comes back. ~ German Proverb
• A penny for your thoughts. ~ Proverb
• Penny wise is often pound foolish. ~ French Proverb
• A penny is a lot of money if you have not got a penny. ~ Yiddish Proverb
• A penny saved is a penny earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin
• Pennies do not come from Heaven. They have to be earned here on earth. ~ Margaret Thatcher
And now we suggest you head to your wallet, your pockets, your change jar and wherever else you keep your pennies and get started on your very own Lincoln Penny Collection. Of course, if you come across any of the rare pennies listed above, and want to sell them, give us a call at 847-348-6447 and let us help you find a buyer for your coin.
PGS Gold & Coin’s mission is to provide our customers with “Fair Market Value” in exchange for any unwanted Rare Coins, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Diamond, Jewelry and Collectables! We strive to deliver the highest quality of customer service each and every day. PGS Gold & Coin is locally owned & family operated since 2008. PGS has become one of the most professional and trusted Rare Coin, and Precious Metals Dealers in the area. We are a Certified Coin Dealer by PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service), NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation), and PMG (Paper Money Grading). We are a proud sponsor of the ANA (American Numismatic Association) and have a BBB (Better Business Bureau) A+ rating.
For more information, visit our website www.pgsgoldandcoin.com or give us a call at 888-416-2701.