1909 S VDB Penny – How Rare And How Valuable?

1909-s-vdb-Lincoln-wheat-cent-photo-public-domain-on-Wikimedia.jpg In coin collecting, there are certain rare coins that even the general public knows are expensive and elusive.

But perhaps the one coin that really seems to keep getting attention (and deservedly so) is the 1909 S VDB penny.

Here’s the story behind this rare but popular coin. See why it’s so rare, and what it’s worth today…

Why All The Fuss?

So, why is the 1909 S VDB penny so special?

Perhaps the most important part of the story all comes down to the initials on the back of the coin.

V.D.B. are the initials for Victor David Brenner, the renowned designer of the Lincoln cent. Brenner placed his initials on the reverse of the Lincoln cent, near the bottom rim on the reverse below the wheat stalks on the back of the coin.

S, by the way, is the mint mark for the San Francisco mint.

While the public generally loved the Lincoln cent when it was first released, one particular problem some had with the coin was the prominence of Brenner’s initials on the coin.

People simply thought the initials were too obvious and large. The U.S. Mint responded to the outcry by removing Brenner’s initials altogether. But the situation was that the U.S. Mint had already produced millions of the pennies with the prominent VDB initials.

While most of the 1909 VDB cents were produced in Philadelphia, only 484,000 of the VDB pennies  rolled out of the San Francisco mint. 484,000 specimens of a coin may not sound like a number low enough to be considered rare, but think about the immense popularity of the Lincoln cent. Seemingly countless people collect Lincoln cents!

Therefore, the demand for the key-date 1909 S VDB penny becomes all too obvious. In fact, of all the modern coins produced, the 1909 S VDB peny is certainly among the most popular and relatively scarce.


Value Of 1909 S VDB Pennies

The 1909 S VDB penny is indeed one of the most expensive regular-strike (non-error) rarities of modern U.S. coins. It is also one of those coins that has seen virtually nothing but upward trends in values for the last several decades.

The value of a 1909 S VDB cent is around $700-800 in Good, and upwards of $1,800-2,000 in Uncirculated grades. There have been some badly worn, even damaged, 1909 S VDB pennies that can be occasionally found on eBay and in coin dealers’ catalogs.

Yet, even these unsightly pieces often go for at least a few hundred dollars. These cull coins make great filler pieces, but stick to the problem-free coins for a better chance of reaping rewards on your investment when buying rare coins such as the 1909-S VDB cent.


What Ever Happened To The 1909 S VDB Penny?

The initials that caused so much controversy in 1909 were absent from the coin until 1918.

In 1918, the initials were restored to the coin — this time, in much smaller characters under Lincoln’s bust on the obverse of the coin.

The initials are still there to this day, but it may take some people a magnifying glass to see the tiny letters!

One of the best books for collectors of Lincoln pennies is A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents, by Q. David Bowers.Ev


Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterGoogle Plus

Fun From Around the Web

  • mikey

    I have a 1909 S penny great condition.
    I have a 1909 S VDB in great condition
    i have a 1877 in ok condition some ware
    i have the hole a collection with every penny from 1857-1972
    If you are interested please call 859-396-2868 and ask for mikey
    or email me at mikey_5mith@hotmail.com

  • Jeff Slechta

    I have the whole collection of pennies from 1909svdb to 1972. 2 full blue books looking to get rid of quickly. Contact me at jeffslechta@yahoo.com if interested.

    • Anonymous


      You’ll also find quick results if you offer the set to a local coin dealer or sell the set on eBay. Good luck!

  • Chuck

    I have a 1940s lincoln penny that was struck off center.  What could it be worth?

  • Rosa Macon

    I have a penny the size of a nickle and evething on the back is backwords. Its this rare??

  • TMartinezAragon

    This 1949 Penny feels like it has a ring around it. Is it worth anything?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide


      Your coin was once part of a piece of jewelry. A 1949 Lincoln cent without the ring is worth a few cents, and the application of the ring most likely damaged your coin.

  • Tissa Gamage

    I have big collection of sri lanka and uk old coins I hope to sell. help me.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Tissa –

      You will probably get a higher price if you sell those coins on eBay, where lots of people who specialize in collecting those specific coins would be looking. Here’s some advice about selling coins: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2008/10/sell_coin.php

  • scott

    I have one of the 1909 large penny’s its not in the best of condition but can tell what it is may be interested in selling it do you no any buyers? This is my email scottmcallister1@insightbb.com

  • fred

    Have a 1909 s vdb…….. Dont know what to do….

    • John Gade

      Hi, Fred,
      Do you have a picture of it, both the front and the back sides? You could take it to a coin shop near where you live and have the coin graded, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine, Extremely Fine, Uncirculated, Brilliant Uncirculated. Also I wouldn’t clean it as this could cause damage to the finish. Let me know if you get anywhere with this. johnhgade@yahoo.com

  • Kelvin

    hey I have a 1909 coin and im not sure what to do with it its not the best coin but u can see the 1909 on it

  • jenna

    i have a 1989 penny that looks to be a silver or aluminum color that was plated to the color of normal pennies. is that worth anything
    I also have a 1950 and 1965

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Jenna –

      May I see a photo of your 1989 penny, please?

      While you’re waiting for a response to the photo, here’s some more info on silver-colored pennies: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2013/02/silver-penny.php

      Your 1950 penny is worth 5 cents and your 1965 has a collector value of 1 cent, if it has been found in pocket change and has signs of wear on it.

      • jenna

        So I have 6 cents. :) Thanks

      • jenna

        Thanks Joshua. Who says you need a nickel to get 6 Cents with two coins.
        Here are the images. Looks pretty beat up.

        • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          Hi Jenna,

          What happened here is the copper coating on the high points of this Lincoln cent were rubbed away, exposing the zinc core within.

          This could have happened in a variety of ways, but, judging from striations/rub lines, this coins was sanded or rubbed on a very abrasive surface.

          Thanks for your question!