Who is VDB?

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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.

Did you know that many people made significant contributions to the numismatic society?

One of them was VDB. Hey, this article will talk a bit about his life and work!

Who is VDB?

who-is-vdb

American sculptor, engraver, and medallist Victor David Brenner are best known as the creator of the Lincoln Cent.

Jewish parents gave birth to Brenner in the Russian Empire city of Siauliai. His gravestone attests that he was given the Hebrew name Avigdor David Brenner (“Avigdor ben Gershon”) at birth, but he later changed his name to Victor David Brenner.

In 1890, he immigrated to the U.S. and spent much of his time near New York City. Brenner had little else to fall back on when he arrived in America but the trade his father had taught him, gem and seal engraving.

The equipment required for sculpting was part of this technical preparation. At Cooper Union, he attended night classes. Brenner quickly grasped English just as he had French.

What is VDB Famous For?

Brenner’s enduring Lincoln coin design, the obverse of which is the longest-running design in United States Mint history and possibly the most replicated work of art in history, is arguably what makes him best known.

Theodore Roosevelt, who had before posed with Brenner in New York, had chosen the style. Brenner had developed into one of the top medalists in the country since entering the country nineteen years earlier.

After learning of Brenner’s abilities in a settlement house on the Lower East Side of New York City, Roosevelt was struck by the bas-relief of Lincoln that Brenner had created, based on a shot by the early Civil War era photographer Mathew Brady.

Roosevelt requested that the new Lincoln coin be based on Brenner’s work.

He manufactured it to honor Lincoln’s 100th birthday in 1909 because he believed Lincoln was the Union’s savior, the greatest Republican president, and that he was also his political heir.

The image of President Lincoln on the coin’s obverse is an adaption of a plaque Brenner created several years prior that President Roosevelt had noticed in New York.

What is VDB on Coins?

who-is-vdb

One pair of initials is much more well-known and instantly recognized than any others in coin collecting.

The letters “VDB” stand for Victor David Brenner, the artist who created the Lincoln Cent, and they stand for his name.

The fact that these initials are found on the most valuable Lincoln makes them famous. The coin is a 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent.

Brenner’s initials were printed in huge, noticeable letters at the base of the reverse of the first Lincoln cents.

But almost immediately, complaints surfaced that this oversized “signature” was too huge and unacceptable on moral grounds.

Finally, the U.S. capitulated to public pressure. After just 484,000 pieces had been struck with the initials at the San Francisco Mint, the Mint deleted the problematic letters soon after production began. Since then, the “S-VDB” has become a highly prized rare.

1909-S VDB 1C

who-is-vdb
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The 1909-S VDB penny is regarded as a major date among American coinage collectors and is one of the most famous and identifiable coins in American history.

Victor D. Brenner created the coin, which President Theodore Roosevelt embraced as a representation of American advancement.

The back of the coin depicts a wheat stalk, symbolizing the nation’s agricultural heritage, while the obverse has a profile of President Abraham Lincoln.

The San Francisco Mint produced the coin, which rapidly gained popularity among the general public.

One of American history’s most well-known coin faults is the penny from 1909 with the VDB.

According to the story, Victor David Brenner, the coin’s creator, added his initials to the coin’s reverse side.

However, it was felt that the initials stood out too much. So, after a few thousand original coins were circulated, the U.S. Mint promptly created a new version.

Before you go…

We hope you enjoyed learning more about VDB. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so please share them in the comments below!

Check out my next article: “What is a Key Date Penny?

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