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Lincoln Cents: My First Love

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - May 6, 2022

The 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent is the iconic key to the entire series. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

When I began collecting coins in 1992 at the age of 11, I was drawn in by the Lincoln Cent. Now, now, I know what you’re thinking — just about everybody and their sibling began collecting coins by way of the Lincoln Cent, and you’re probably right. But, really, who can deny this enchanting little coin and its charming numismatic ways?

So plentiful, so accessible, yet offering a complex world of numismatic challenge and excitement all its own. It’s no wonder so many collectors kick off their numismatic journey with Lincoln Cents but never veer elsewhere in the hobby. There are literally hundreds of regular-issue coins when counting all possible date and mintmark combinations in the series, and there are thousands of varieties when counting everything from major doubled dies to obscure repunched mintmarks and other die-bred oddities.

The series boasts a handful of major key dates, including the 1909-S VDB, 1914-D, and 1931-S Lincoln Wheat Cents. There are also several major rarities that aren’t regular issues but nonetheless are routinely included in basic and advanced date-and-mintmark sets alike, including the 1922 No D Strong Reverse, 1955 Doubled Die, and 1972 Doubled Die. I spent years pursuing these in less-than-pristine grades, and the chase was worth the effort.

The 1922 No D Strong Reverse was originally thought to be a Philadelphia date until later revelation proved it was a Denver coin with an obliterated mintmark. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.Click image to enlarge.
The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent became one of the most popular varieties of all time. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.Click image to enlarge.
The 1992 Close AM is a rare transitional error wherein the bases of the “A” and “M” in “AMERICA” appear to nearly touch one another – a die variety intended for use beginning in the following year. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

Many deep-pocketed collectors (a term that doesn’t describe me) chase five-and six-figure treasures like the 1943 Bronze and 1944 Steel off-metal transitional errors along with the elusive 1969-S Doubled Die and 1992 Close AM Lincoln Memorial Cents from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. A collector can easily spend a couple thousand dollars simply building a well-worn set of regular issues, anchored by the necessary 1909-S VDB, 1914-D, and 1931-S. But others can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and a veritable lifetime completing the most advanced and pristine of sets — the type of assemblages that could garner top honors on the PCGS Set Registry.

There’s no right or wrong way to build a set of Lincoln Cents, of course. Ultimately, that’s between you and Honest Abe. As for me, my love for Lincolns never waned even when tempted by other genres such as pre-1933 United States gold and early Draped Bust type coinage. My penny passion unabated, I’ll always have a spot in my heart — and collection — for the lovely Lincolns.

Article provided by PCGS at
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