Definitions

b. lincoln

Wheat cent

The Lincoln Wheat Cent (sometimes referred to as a Wheat penny, a Wheatback, a Wheat Head, or a Wheatie) was a United States one-cent coin produced from 1909 to 1958.

Both the obverse and the reverse were designed by Victor David Brenner, a New York sculptor. Brenner's initials, V.D.B., were included on the reverse of the coin below the two stylized wheat stalks on a limited number of the coins until public controversy forced their removal. Brenner's initials were restored to the obverse, below Lincoln's shoulder, in 1918.

One of the more valuable coins to collectors is the 1909 San Francisco, California-minted "VDB" cent, so-named because the designer's initials were included between the stalks of wheat on the lower reverse side; only 484,000 were produced before the public outcry at the designer's initials being so prominently displayed. Even poor-quality examples of the 1909-S VDB coin bring hundreds of dollars and a high-grade mint condition example can sell for $6,000 to $12,000 or more. By contrast, the Philadelphia mint produced nearly 28 million examples of the 1909 VDB cent and such coins are far less valuable. The other key date of the series is the 1914-D, with a mintage of just under 1.2 million. Uncirculated examples have auctioned for over $26,000.

The only other wheat cents to command prices on par with the 1909-S VDB and 1914-D are both error coins: the 1922 "plain" ($5500 for uncirculated specimens), the result of a filled die, and the 1955 doubled die ($1000+ for uncirculated specimens).

In 1959, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's birth, the wheat stalks on the reverse of the coin were replaced with a rendering of the Lincoln Memorial by Frank Gasparro.

Specifications

Bronze (1909–1942)

  • Composition: .950 Copper, .05 Tin and Zinc
  • Diameter: 19 mm
  • Weight: 3.11 grams
  • Edge: Plain

Zinc-plated steel (1943)

  • Composition: 100% Steel plated with Zinc
  • Diameter: 19 mm
  • Weight: 2.70 grams
  • Edge: Plain

"Shell casing" bronze (1944–1945)

  • Composition: .950 Copper .05 Zinc
  • Diameter: 19 mm
  • Weight: 2.70 grams
  • Edge: Plain

Bronze (1946–1958)

  • Composition: .950 Copper, .05 Tin and Zinc
  • Diameter: 19 mm
  • Weight: 3.11 grams
  • Edge: Plain

Mintage figures can be found here.

Circulation status

As of 2007, most wheat cents are currently held in private collections and by dealers, often in bulk quantity. However, since the vast majority of wheat cents are only worth ten cents or less, an occasional wheat is still sometimes found in circulation, with a ratio of approximately 1 to 390 cents. This is due to the popularity of bulk coin counting machines such as Coinstar or at a bank, where the wheat cents may have been saved over the years with Lincoln Memorial cents, stored away for some time, then discovered years later and deposited for cash. An occasional 1943 steel cent is sometimes found in the reject area of a coin counting machine as well.

See also

References

External links

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