The Lincoln cent, or most commonly called “penny”, started production in 1909. They have President Abraham Lincoln on the front which is where the name “Lincoln Cent” comes from. Starting with the first year of 1909 the penny has wheat ears on the back and is commonly called a “Wheat Back Penny”. They are made of bronze, which consists of 95% copper and 5% tin.
In 1909, there were pennies that were struck in San Francisco and Philadelphia that had the designer’s initials on the back of the penny at the bottom that read “V.D.B”, which stood for “Victor David Brenner”.
The Lincoln cent was also the first cent to have “IN GOD WE TRUST” stamped on it. These remained, for the most part, unchanged until 1943 when World War II made copper valuable for building planes, ships, tanks, bullets, ect.
During 1943 they struck pennies onto steel coated with zinc. The zinc coating keeps the steel from rusting for quite a while until it begins to wear off. These steel pennies were produced for only one year.
However, there were a few 1943 pennies struck on bronze that were not supposed to be released to the public, these are commonly referred to as “1943 copper pennies”. There are only a handful in existence. Most 1943 “copper” pennies people find are copper plated steel pennies or modified 1948 pennies.
Production of copper pennies resumed in 1944. The wheat back penny was produced until 1958. The pennies made from 1909 – 1958 all weigh 3.11 grams except the steel 1943 variety which weighs 2.7 grams. Values range from about 3 cents to a minimum of about $400.00 for a 1909 S V.D.B. cent. In uncirculated condition they can go as high as $2,000.00 to $3,000.00.
There are also other key dates that are worth more due to the lower numbers that were minted. These include but are not limited to 1910 S, 1911 S, 1912 S, 1913 S, 1914 D,1922, 1931 S and even a 1955 double die. Double die means the coin was struck 2 times and the letters are slightly offset on each strike making a double image effect that is readily visible without a magnifier.
If you like this article, then you might enjoy other articles in our archives, such as Is It Time To Scrap The Penny?
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