US Coins

Why are 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cents relatively available?

The 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent has demand from both type and date collectors. This one graded MS-67 red sold for $1,057.50 at a Jan. 11, 2014, Heritage auction.

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After the recent sale of a Mint State 67 red 1918 Lincoln cent at auction for $14,100, why is a comparably graded 1918 Lincoln cent worth more than a 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent? To some it may seem counter intuitive. After all, the 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent has much lower mintage of 27,995,000 pieces and is worth far more in circulated grades.

The answer is in survival rates. In 1909 the Lincoln cent was brand new, and collectors and noncollectors alike each wanted one to hold onto. Further, the designer Victor David Brenner’s initials placed prominently at the lower center of the reverse and their subsequent removal later in 1909 brought a lot of attention to the Lincoln cent.

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and Professional Coin Grading Service have recorded more than 300 submissions at the MS-67 red level for the 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent. In comparison, the two firms have seen just 22 submissions at the MS-67 red level for the 1918 cent.

The price is kept high for the 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent because it’s in demand from several hobby sectors. It is considered a distinct design subtype, so it has demand from type collectors. Some people collect first-year-of-issue coins, and others are attracted to the coin because they remember the story from their earliest collecting days. 

In MS-66 red, the price for a 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent drops substantially, with recent sales for gorgeous CAC stickered coins clustered at the $250 to $300 level. 

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