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Submitted by on Jan 11, 2020
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The best place to start collecting would be with pennies, we will focus on the Lincoln Cent for the years 1909 through 1958, which are the Wheat Cents. There are still a number of “wheat cents” showing up in circulation, so it is possible to start a coin collection without spending a great deal of money.

While you are searching your pocket change for “wheat cents”, be sure to check for silver coinage and of course check those quarters. Then new 50 State Commemorative Quarters are a very good place to start since you can find five new states each year plus the different mint marks.

Getting back to pennies, which is where we want to start our new collection. The first Lincoln Cent was minted in 1909 and was made of copper. The mint continued to make pennies from copper until 1943, when for this year only, they were made of steel and zinc plated to prevent them from rusting. These coins appear to be silver or gray in color because of the plating. The pennies were made of steel because of a copper shortage brought on by the war, but they resumed using copper in 1944. Between 1909 and 1958 the penny featured Lincoln on the obverse (front of the coin) and the words “ONE CENT” over “United States of America” framed by bundles of wheat on each side of the words, there by getting the descriptive name of “Wheat Cents”. This is how the penny is called for the years 1909-1958. Other than a minor change in the composition of the metal which was 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc until 1943 when they were zinc plated steel, and then 1944 until 1958 when they were 95% copper, 5% zinc and no tin.

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The Penny remained the same for 50 years. It was designed by Victor David Brenner, whose initials appeared on the reverse, of some, of the coins minted that first year. There are two varieties of the 1909, some have the VDB on the reverse, (back of coin) at the bottom of the coin at the 6 o’clock position, and others do not. The pennies were minted at Philadelphia, Pa. and San Francisco, Ca. The pennies from San Francisco have a small “s” under the date while the Philadelphia coins have no mintmark. The coins to watch for are the ones with mintmarks; this applies to all coins not just pennies. The value of coins is greatly based on rarity and with the Philadelphia mint being the largest of the mints; it was natural for them to produce the greatest number of coins. There is also a mint in Denver, Co. and a mint, which had been closed by this time in Carson City. The Denver mint put a small “d” under the date and on older coinage of other types you will find the letters “CC” for Carson City.

Mint Marks are Important, learn to watch for them.

Back to pennies, in 1909 when the first Lincoln (wheat cent) penny was made, they minted 72,702,618 in Philadelphia without the designers, Victor David Brenner, initials. They produced 27,995,000 with the VDB on the reverse of the penny. This same year, 1909, San Francisco minted 1,825,000 without the designer’s initials and 484,000 with the initials VDB on the reverse at the bottom of the coin. So now for the economics lesson of supply and demand and how it affects price.

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