US Coins

Market Analysis: 1923-S Lincoln cent is the finest of its kind

The 1923-S Lincoln cent is a somewhat better date in the series, with a mintage of 8,700,000.

Although circulated coins were saved in quantities, higher Mint State examples, especially ones with bright red color, are rare. Consistent with other San Francisco Mint issues of the 1920s, the 1923-S Lincoln cent is often found poorly struck from worn dies, and the surfaces are frequently a bit dull, leading to generally bland eye appeal. 

The offered example from Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ Regency Auction 34 in Las Vegas was a definite exception to the rule, with both sides glowing a fiery red color. Legend observed, “A few scattered ticks are seen with the aid of a strong glass, but none are visible to the naked eye,” adding, “There are also zero flecks or carbon spots to be found anywhere.” 

At MS-65+ red, it is the sole finest example graded at PCGS, and Legend anticipated strong bidding, estimating it at $50,000 to $55,000. It sold for $67,562.50. For context, the sales price was more than double the $31,200 that another 1923-S Lincoln cent, one of 16 graded MS-65 red by PCGS, brought at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 15 American Numismatic Association Rarities Night auction in metropolitan Chicago. 

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