US Coins

Market Analysis: 1919 Lincoln cent realizes $421,875

GreatCollections’ Jan. 15 session of Lincoln cents from Stewart Blay included a PCGS MS-69 red 1919 cent that brought $421,875 and a 1922-D Lincoln, No D, Strong Reverse cent in PCGS MS-64 red that sold for $253,125. Both featured green CAC stickers.

Images courtesy of GreatCollections.

GreatCollections saw some extremely strong results in its offering of Lincoln cents from “The Red Copper Collection of Lincoln Cents.” The set was assembled by Stewart Blay and the Jan. 15 session was the first of three planned to close on subsequent Sundays.

Leading bidding on the lots closing on Jan. 15 was the only example of the Wheat reverse type graded Mint State 69 red by Professional Coin Grading Service, a 1919 Lincoln cent with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker in an older, green-label PCGS holder, which realized $421,875. 

The Philadelphia Mint did a great job producing cents in 1919, with Q. David Bowers writing in A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents that most examples are well-struck, thanks to careful adjustments of the coining presses and properly annealed planchets. Bowers even adds, “A nice gem will be an easy find, for a change. Hooray!”

PCGS reports 19 in MS-68 red, one of which sold for $12,000 this past summer at Heritage, also sporting a green CAC sticker. In that sale Heritage observed about the date, “It gives budget-conscious collectors an excellent type coin option, while Registry collectors can spring for a remarkably high-grade piece.” In a market where a handful of super-rich collectors are chasing the best, that a conditionally rare, common-date Lincoln cent could approach the half-million mark is an exceptional result by any standard.

More traditional series keys were also included in the Jan. 15 session, like a PCGS-graded 1909-S Lincoln, V.D.B. cent in MS-67 red with a green CAC sticker that realized $345,375.

A 1922-D Lincoln, No D, Strong Reverse cent in PCGS MS-64 red with a green CAC sticker sold for $253,125. It is the sole finest-graded at the service carrying a red color designation. PCGS has certified only one other as red, a piece graded MS-63 with some streaks and carbon spotting, which was offered at a 2018 Heritage auction and sold for $48,000.

No 1922 cents were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, though some 1922-D cents have no visible Mint mark. Among the die pairs that struck the “No D” or “Plain” 1922-D cents, the die pair featuring the Strong Reverse is the most coveted. The Denver Mint mark was removed when the obverse die was heavily lapped to eliminate signs of die clashing, and this tidied obverse die was paired with a new reverse die to strike coins that would grow in popularity over the years as a substitute for the absent 1922 Philadelphia Mint coins.

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