Littleton Coin Company

The “Cents”ible side of Lincoln

My top 10 favorite Lincoln cents…

Last month, I wrote about the impracticality of continuing America’s cent. But that got me thinking: these coins are SO popular, we’re holding on to them out of no more than tradition and habit. So I thought it would be fun to make a list of my 10 favorite Lincoln cents…

  1. 1909-S V.D.B.lincoln-cent-1909s-VDBThis goes without saying. The 1909-S V.D.B. cent is an absolute dream coin for most. In the series’ first year, just 484,000 pieces were struck at the San Francisco Mint before critics raised concerns about the size of designer Victor D. Brenner’s initials on the reverse. Lincoln cent production screeched to a halt – and when it resumed, the initials were gone.
  2. 1943 Bronze centslincoln-cent-1943-bronzeShrouded in controversy, these coins are considered off-metal struck mint errors. Just 40 pieces are known to exist! If you’re in the market for one of these coins, know that there are a number of counterfeits. Since most 1943 bronze cent counterfeits are created by plating regular 1943 steel cents, the easiest way to find a counterfeit is with a magnet. Steel cents will stick, copper cents won’t – so if your 1943 bronze cent doesn’t stick to a magnet, you might want to have it authenticated.
  3. 1944 Steel cents – These too were struck as off-metal mint errors. Pieces from Denver and San Francisco were simply struck on left over steel blanks from 1943. While coins from Philadelphia could have been struck on left over planchets, there’s also a possibility that they were intended as 2 Franc coins for Belgium.
  4. 1922 plain (no D) cent – The mints were busy striking silver dollars in 1922, and Denver was the only facility to produce Lincoln cents. So how did we end up with “no D” 1922 cents? Of the four die pairs used to strike 1922-D cents, only one – die pair #2 – had the mint mark removed by a mint employee following a die clash that damaged the obverse and reverse dies.
  5. 1955 doubled die obverselincoln-cent-1955-double-dieI knew about this coin before I really knew much about coin collecting! This eye-catching error wasn’t spotted until an estimated 20,000 pieces had been struck. Since they were already mixed in with regular cents for circulation, mint officials decided to let the errors go, rather than destroy millions of coins that were already set to be shipped.
  6. 1914-D cent – Combine the fact that this is the third lowest business strike of the Lincoln cent series and that it didn’t stand out as a key date until after World War II… and you have an exciting rarity that collectors adore.
  7. 1931-S cent – Before the Great Depression, cents were issued in droves. But as America’s economy continued its downward spiral in the year before the stock market crash, just 866,000 cents were struck in San Francisco.
  8. 1982 varieties – It can be hard to make sense of 1982 cents. (See what I did there?!) For starters, the composition was changed partway through the year. Plus, large and small date varieties were struck in Philadelphia and Denver, where two different hub design styles were used. In all, a total of eight different Lincolns were issued in 1982!
  9. 1995 doubled die obverselincoln-cent-1995-double-dieIt was early in 1995 when collectors noticed cents with doubling in liberty and the motto in god we trust. Thanks to minting technology that was designed to eliminate doubling, this coin holds the title of the last doubled die cent of the 20th century.
  10. 1909-S cent – It’s not quite as famous as its initialed counterpart, but the 1909-S cent deserves a mention, too. Fewer than 2 million were struck after Victor D. Brenner’s initials were removed, making this a scarce collector favorite.

Honorable mentions:

lincoln-cent-2010-shieldEven though they’re newer issues, I didn’t want to let the four 2009 anniversary designs and the Shield cent of 2010 go unnoticed! The 2009 cents honored both the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent. Then in 2010 the Shield reverse debuted, becoming the first new ongoing reverse design for the series since 1959.

There you have it – what I consider to be the top most popular Lincoln cents. Which ones are your favorites?

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