A 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent originally thought to be a common Mint
State example has been certified by Professional Coin Grading Service as a rare
Matte Proof, of which fewer than 200 submissions have been made to
major third-party grading services.
If the coin had been a common circulation strike, the coin would be
valued below $100. Instead, experts believe the coin could realize
between $50,000 and $60,000 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ March 29 to 31 sale in
conjunction with the Whitman Baltimore Expo, to which it has been consigned.
The coin is graded PCGS Proof 66 red and brown and stickered by Certified Acceptance
Corp. for its quality.
Identified during attribution
The coin going to auction was identified and attributed by variety
specialist Chris Simpson from California.
Simpson identified the coin from among a batch of coins in 2-inch by
2-inch cardboard holders that he examined in mid-November for a
southern California dealer for whom he does variety attributions.
The cardboard holders were housed in a coin album, and the Matte
Proof 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent was in the slot for circulation
strikes, Simpson said.
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Simpson said when he picked up the group of coins and looked them
over briefly, he raised the possibility with the dealer that the coin
could be a rare Matte Proof strike.
Simpson didn’t make a firm identification until he got the coins
home where he could conduct a thorough examination. When he examined
the cent extensively, he found that it possessed all of the obverse
and reverse diagnostics for a Matte Proof.
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Simpson said he then shared the news of the verification with the
dealer, who will share an undisclosed portion of the coin’s proceeds
with him after the March auction, provided the piece sells.
PCGS has recorded grading 130 Matte Proof 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B.
cents, while Numismatic Guaranty Corp.’s census of certified examples
Some uncertainty exists over the mintage figure for the coin, with
two numbers often cited: 1,194 and 420. The number of survivors
suggests that the final mintage was likely closer to the smaller
number, experts note. Some researchers believe that 1,194 coins may
have been struck, with more than half destroyed when orders arrived to
remove the designer’s initials from the reverse, to arrive at the 420 figure.
According to the “Mega” edition of A Guide Book of United States
Coins for 2017, a limited number of the Matte Proof Lincoln,
V.D.B. cents became available in August 1909 although many more
requests for the coins were ignored by the Mint.
Key points for collectors seeking to determine if their Lincoln,
V.D.B. cent might be a Matte Proof are the raised, parallel die lines
that appear on top and along Lincoln’s nose on the obverse on the
Matte Proof cent.
On the reverse, an upside-down U-shaped raised mark appears to the
right of the M in UNUM.
The use of a Matte Proof finish on the first Lincoln cents was a
recent innovation for the Mint; until 1907, Proof coins generally bore
a Brilliant Proof finish. The Proof 1909 Indian Head cents bore the
traditional mirror finish.
A Matte Proof coin’s surfaces are granular and the rims flat and
squared. The dies, not the planchets, were sandblasted to impart the
The Matte Proof cents were struck on a medal press running at
slowing speed to bring up the relief in the coin designs, according to
Q. David Bowers in A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents.