Which One’s Worth Close To $1,000? The 1909 VDB Wheat Penny vs. The 1909 S VDB Cent



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You’ve probably heard about the 1909 VDB wheat penny. You know — the coin that’s worth close to $1,000.

The only problem is you’re not sure if you have the VDB penny everyone is talking about…

In fact, it takes more than just seeing VDB on your penny for it to be rare and expensive. It also takes an S on your coin, along with the VDB, for it to be the key coin that is worth $650 to $1,000… or more.

But what does the VDB and the S mean on the 1909 Lincoln cent?

  • The VDB is the designer’s initials – (V)ictor (D)avid (B)renner
  • The S is the mintmark for San Francisco

Only 484,000 1909 S VDB pennies were made!

The more common 1909 VDB cent was made in Philadelphia — with over 27 million minted, it’s worth $12 to $25 in circulated grades.

 

Facts About The 1909 VDB Penny

The 1909 pennies with VDB were the very first examples of the beloved Lincoln cents, which have been made continuously since 1909 — and are by far America’s longest-running coin series.

Even back in 1909, everyone seemed to know the Lincoln penny would be special

People lined up all around the Philadelphia Mint on the morning of August 2, 1909 — the day the coin was released — for their own shiny specimens of the new coin. In the following days, enterprising young children in Philly and San Francisco sold new 1909 VDB and 1909-S VDB pennies for a nickel or dime apiece (respectively). Some even charged a whopping quarter!

Here’s another interesting bit of trivia behind 1909 VDB pennies…

They were minted for only a few weeks before the public complained about the prominence of Brenner’s initials (VDB) on the reverse of the new penny. The U.S. Mint swiftly removed the initials from the coin, leaving the Lincoln cent without any artist marks at all until 1918 — when “VDB” was restored to the coin in tiny print under Lincoln’s shoulder.

So, whether you have the 1909-S VDB penny or the 1909 VDB penny, you’ve got a pretty historic coin on your hands!

Joshua

I'm the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!

30 thoughts on “Which One’s Worth Close To $1,000? The 1909 VDB Wheat Penny vs. The 1909 S VDB Cent

  1. I have two 1943 Lincoln steel wheaties, one has an intermmintent line of dots running from the U in United diagonally down to and on the rim across the wheat on the right. So it runs left to right downward. Anybody got any ideas as cannot find out anything about this anomily.
    TerryAnn

    1. Hi, Michael —

      You have a 1910 Lincoln cent with the VDB under the wheat stalks? Would you please provide a photo(s) of this coin so I can further advise?

      Thank you,
      Josh

  2. Hey long time no see so i came across this coin 1909 v.d.b. penny and i was wondering if this was a real 1909 or a fake one that people are saying that are popping up all over the place? Id appreciate your input. Thanks https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/130c2bfca8cd966cc3747d41fad95a4a1321b4655ce7a337d2b67e3929ea5894.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b86d8631c7cbb27a7456897637b77e4bee0c7fa989b16aa445cd846d616a55d.jpg

    1. Hi, Shane —

      It looks like an authentic 1909 VDB penny in the photos. The relatively common 1909 VDB thankfully isn’t often as faked as the much scarcer 1909-S VDB penny. Your piece — a nice one with original surfaces, by the way — is worth $7 to $10.

      Nice find,
      Josh

      1. Hello Josh; taking the penny collection with the 1909 VDB to a dealer is troublesome. An honest dealer would discount the album by 35%. I took a Mercury dime collection to a dealer (with a 1916D in VG grade and he offered me a fraction for the entire album than the 1916D was worth! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d8107da3358787e58f874de7bfb85db85e203a65d10e0ee3a83c7ece0f80187.jpg

        1. In addition, there is a Roosevelt dime album that has a 1949S and 1950S and 1951S which all look BU and are stated to be quite collectible. Any ideas on value? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/42681ce6331593ccc13f604938cf5f7a1211f745b98fe5a321415a8e57c7853d.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/021709ff1d0282537ecf6ed4e1d83cb7ef3455c94b42809f4630ec8022c49e90.jpg

        2. Hi, Joseph —

          The two things to keep in mind is that, in terms of selling them to a dealer, coins aren’t really worth the values you see in the books. They’re worth a much lower wholesale price, which is the amount a dealer will offer to buy coins for. The dealer needs to pay overhead, rent, etc. and still make a profit.

          You could try selling your collection on eBay or consigning them to an auction house. The only big drawbacks going that route is that, while you may make more, you may also earn less (unless you set a reserve price). Also, while most coin dealers will definitely buy your material, the items you offer for sale through an online or conventional auction may not sell at all.

          I hope this info helps,
          Josh

          1. Hello josh, i found these in old change. Are they worth anything? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2e8d362de855fd7c8b24dff62167e53e7fa50e1ab198e6cc5c4ca91ab7bb4155.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bc272e156a6f4c8800029bd3c477d166d653166a648348ae4d6f04e1226990db.jpg

          2. Hi, Morena —

            Here are links with values for your two pennies posted here:

            1944 penny value: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/1944-penny-value/
            1982 penny value: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/1982-copper-penny-value/

            Best wishes,
            Josh

  3. have an 1909 VBD that looks in BU condition. Should I take it out of album? Coin has high toning so hard to see all details. Album also has a beuty ’37s, 39s, and 38s also hi BU-MS and total of 85 coins. Should I break album or sell it as is?
    [email protected]

    1. Hi, Joseph —

      Without seeing the collection in hand or even photos it is hard to say. Depending on who you’re selling it to, you might make more money selling the set in whole. If the coins are super high grade, they can fetch more individually. As BU/MS encompasses a wide range of values depending upon where in the Mint State grade spectrum each coin sits.

      I hope this info isn’t confusing but helpful based on what you see before you in your collection.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      1. thinking of putting it on ebay . . .any other places? selling for an estate, would like to sell the album as you suggest.

        1. Hi, Joseph —

          EBay is a great marketplace, but if you have trouble don’t forget to try shopping it around to various coin dealers, too.

          Wishing you all the best,
          Josh

      2. Here is the 1909 VDB https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d38fd31d187c61239e7bcbe745310f13f9bff63021e229ff0ff612dd80806175.jpg

      3. Here are the BU/MS pennys https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2de92cda2ab8dcd3e75a1dd8f39187215aa31ff012a2607c18a456cdea939d81.jpg

        1. Nice coins! I just saw the photos… Have you considered consigning then to an auction house? Maybe they would earn more that way.

      4. Hi Josh . . . I respect your opinion. What about the super rare 1916D Mercury? Hate to break album apart but there are several other hi grade coins there too! Consign the albums to Heritage or . . . NGC grade for key dates and put them on Ebay or Heritage auctions? Will Heritage value them on consignment? I think that the 1916D is VG which would increase value substantially, right??

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d8107da3358787e58f874de7bfb85db85e203a65d10e0ee3a83c7ece0f80187.jpg

        1. Hi, Joseph —

          Many of these questions would definitely be answered more thoroughly and specifically by Heritage or the auction house/firm you decide to consign with or sell to. If you’re looking to reach out to Heritage do drop them a line and see what they say. Their website, in case you need it, is found at www.ha.com .

          Buyers can be finicky… I’ve seen many who will only buy an album set if all the coins are in roughly the same grade, whereas others won’t care if a key date, like the 1916-D Mercury dime, is a substantially different grade from the rest of the coins in a set or not. By the way, any 1916-D Mercury dime is a great coin on its own merits. Just my two cents!

          Best of luck,
          Josh

          1. Hi Josh: Another burning question; I sent photos of the 1916D dime to Heritage and their comment was it is worth $600.. A potential buyer of the complete Mercury dime set offered me $800. for all -he sent me a photo of a graded 1916D that he said was graded “good.” My 1916D coin is at least a grade + higher. Now what do I do? By comparison to graded coins, I feel mine is “VG”. Why is the value so low when “G”coins are over $1,000?? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/835437e67cdb23c8e626ca5a42e5c458cd9b3449d6c37f1a9743540f3fcecfa7.jpg

          2. Here is a picture of the graded slabbed 1916D (right) and mine. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2974ca21b29c555622e4b4738115a4f3cddbf4bd3e067c83bce39744cad57846.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0db5a4e5709dbf8b0041b255025f899cfa483f69e748ca4e164e122ce30f9964.png

          3. Hi, Joseph —

            While I don’t render professional grading opinions on this forum for various reasons, what I will say is your piece appears to have a little edge over the comparison photo but I’m not really comfortable saying it’s a FULL grade over. Perhaps more a nicer version of a G rather than a full VG. For this reason we have not just the adjective grading (Good, Very Good, Fine, etc.) but also the numerical grading G-4, G-6, etc.). Yours may be a closer to G-6 than a G-4, but if it’s not a full VG-8 in the eyes of the buyer they won’t pay full VG price.

            Something to remember, too, is that the price guides you see are merely only a rough estimate as to fair market value. They generally aren’t hard-and-fast rules, and ultimately what something is worth is only what the market will pay for it. Again, that $1,000 value your citing is closer to a retail value, and you will not get anywhere near retail when selling to coin dealers or other wholesale marketers.

            You need to decide what price you’re willing to give up your coin for, so to speak. Keep shopping it around and see who gives you the best price. If the best price isn’t good enough for you, then try eBay and see what happens. You can always set a reserve and adjust pricing based on response from potential buyers. That may be the best way to maximize returns for your piece.

            Good luck!!
            -Josh

          4. Thank you very much Josh! Your info. was most helpful. Back to the 1916D . . . I saw a few on ebay that were graded in AG and carried over $1, 200. values. The photos showed date wear as well as wear on LIBERTY. Min has much less where and a clear date. Maybe I should have it graded and slabbed? Probably cost around $100. total right??

          5. Hi, Joseph —

            It depends which company you go with. Some will probably grade it for closer to $30-50. Unless you’re a PCGS or NGC member you may need to submit via a coin dealer. ICG and ANACS generally allow collectors to submit coins themselves. Do check the grading company sites to view each’s current submission policies and prices.

            Good luck!
            Josh

  4. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d8107da3358787e58f874de7bfb85db85e203a65d10e0ee3a83c7ece0f80187.jpg selling Merc dimes for a friend found a 1916 D in album. While values range from $700 to $1,500 my thought is to offer the entire album on ebay. What do you think?

  5. Josh: I found this on ebay . . . have no idea what it means. I have a dime that looks exactly like it: RARE OLD ANACS RPM 1945 D/HORIZONTAL D FS-506 US MERCURY WINGED LIBERTY DIME .10
    what is RPM? what is a horizontal D??

    1. Hi, Joseph —

      RPM stands for repunched mintmark, and it designates a coin on which the mintmark punch was used at least twice at distinctly different angles on the working die. Some repunched mintmarks are quite scarce and have a niche collector base. Here’s more info: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/repunched-mint-marks/

      Best wishes,
      Josh

  6. I have a 1910 $2.50 gold coin win an Indian head. It is in a square plastic and cardboard sheath. It looks uncirculated. It was bought by my parents in the 1960’s and I just found it while clearing out their belongings. I have seen some fairly good values on line. What would it be worth and where or to whom would a seller go to get top dollar?

    1. Hello, Kirk —

      What a neat find! Assuming you’re in possession of a United States Indian Head $2.50 quarter eagle, values presently range from about $335 for a nicely circulated specimen to about $350+ for an uncirculated example.

      I hope this info helps,
      Josh

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