The Ultimate Guide To Lincoln Cent Key Dates!

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Written By Natasha Jones
I'm Natasha Jones, an avid collector of coins, stamps, and paper money. My passion drives me to seek unique finds, from antique shops to international exchanges. I enjoy connecting with fellow collectors through forums and meet-ups, sharing discoveries and insights. Collecting, for me, is about preserving history and building a community around this shared interest.

It’s important to note that in each U.S. coin series, some specific issues or varieties serve as the key dates to complete a mint mark collection!

In this article, we’ll look at Lincoln Cent key dates and their values! Let’s dive right in!

Lincoln Cent Key Dates:

1. 1909-S V.D.B.

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Shortly after the Lincoln Cent was introduced in 1909, there was a lot of commotion about the prominence of Victor David Brenner‘s initials on the reverse side of the coin.

I have read about the V.D.B. controversy.

After the initials were removed following a short production, the 1909-S V.D.B. cent had a small mintage of only 484,000, making it the ultimate Key-Date issue of the Lincoln series.

2. 1909-S

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In the early years of the Lincoln series, we had a limited production of cents at the San Francisco Mint.

So, what happened was that the designer’s V.D.B. initials got taken off the coins in 1909, and as a result, only 1,825,000 cents were made in San Francisco that year.

The 1909-S Lincoln Cent with the key date has the fourth lowest mintage of the series.

3. 1914-D

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So, folks, did you know that the 1914-D Lincoln cent is the third lowest mintage coin in the series?

Yeah, that’s right! The Denver Mint only struck 1,193,000 of them in that year.

It’s interesting to note that they produced nearly 15 million cents in 1913 and over 22 million in 1915.

The 1914-D Lincoln cent from the sixth year of the series is highly prized and is described in the official Red Book guide to Lincoln cents as “a rarity in all grades.”

4. 1931-S

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During the Depression in the early 1930s, there wasn’t much demand for coinage.

In 1931, the San Francisco Mint only produced 866,000 cents, making it the second-lowest mintage of the Lincoln series.

The 1931-S cents were not widely released during their year of issue.

However, when they became available, collectors and dealers recognized them as a rarity.

5. 1922 Plain

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So in 1922, the mint was instructed to make as many silver dollars as possible.

As a result, they didn’t make any nickels, dimes, quarters, or half dollars.

They only made cents in Denver. Due to the usage of multiple worn dies, several 1922-D cents exhibit a faint “D” mint mark, while others lack any discernible “D” mint mark.

The “1922 Plain” cents have become highly sought-after rarities.

6. 1943 Steel

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In 1943, we had a shortage of copper for armaments during the critical war year.

As a result, Lincoln cents were minted in zinc-coated steel that year. Let me tell you about the prized mementos of WWII.

The 1943 steel cents were struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.

Similarly, the Lincoln cents of 1944-1946 were also struck from spent recycled cartridge cases.

7. 1943 Bronze

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Though all 1943 Lincoln cents were supposed to be struck in zinc-coated steel, a small number of 1943 cents were struck on bronze planchets (coin blanks) left over from previous years.

Collectors should be wary, as bronze 1943 cents have been widely simulated by copper-plating 1943 steel cents or by altering the “8” of 1948 bronze cents.

8. 1955/55 Doubled Die

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The famous “1955/55” Doubled Die Lincoln cent showcases some seriously misaligned images of the date and lettering.

An improperly produced working die struck the doubled image onto the coins.

Like the 1922 Plain, the 1955/55 Doubled Die is now considered a highly valued rarity of the Lincoln series.

Well, there were other less-prominent instances of doubling on other Lincoln issues.

9. 1960 Small Date

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The first Lincoln cents struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1960 featured small digits in the date.

The mint became concerned that the small interior of the “0” might break off the dies – cylindrical steel shafts with recessed images that impress raised images on the coin blanks.

The digits were enlarged, and the early 1960 small-date issues became a hard-to-find variety.

Before you go…

So there you have it! I hope this article helped you understand what Lincoln key dates are! There are several types of coins to collect, but key dates are one of the hardest ones to find! Make sure to leave some suggestions for us in the comment section! Happy Collecting!

Check out my next article: “23 Most Valuable Penny Collection in History: A Rare Look Inside!

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