Looking at my numismatic life lasting over 40 years, I have completed a number of sets including Franklin Half Dollars and Peace Dollars. However, there is one folder that I have had since I started collecting coins that I never completed, the Lincoln Cent 1909 – 1940 folder.
In The Beginning
When I started collecting back in the 1970s, I had four Whitman folders which included the first two Lincoln Cents and first two Jefferson Nickels. Of course the second Lincoln Cent and Jefferson Nickels books were easy to fill. The first Jefferson Nickel would be a slight challenge. After all, I was only in my teens.
I still remember my mom’s two glass piggy banks that she let me go through. The only obstacle was getting the coins out of them because glass piggy banks did not have holes at the bottom. You either had to get them by the slot at the top, or break the piggy bank. Since breaking the bank was not an option, I had to use a butter knife to get the initial coins out. Then a number of them would come out. I would have to repeat the process a number of times till I was able to shake the bank to get them out. One of the banks had Jefferson Nickels and I was able to fill the majority of the first folder. I think I was only missing a few early ones like the 1938-D, 1938-S, and 1950-D. In time, I would fill the folder except for the 1950-D because they were only released in Mint Sets. I’m not about to put an uncirculated 1950-D in the hole.
Her second piggy bank had a lot of Lincoln Wheat Cents. I filled a number of holes between the two Lincoln Cent folders which was exciting. Then, I started looking at other coins to collect. Back then, we had Kennedy Half Dollars and Eisenhower Dollars in our pockets. Finally, I went to college and put my folders away. The first Lincoln Cent folder wouldn’t be touched again for 35 years.
Return To The Folder
In 2018, I was looking to get the last Peace Dollar I needed, the 1934-S. Between 1998 and 2001, I got the other 23 including the 1921 and 1928. I went to one of my coin club meetings and for the first time, I attended their auction at the end of the meeting. They had an Almost Uncirculated 1934-S on the auction list. The nice thing was I would be the only one bidding on it and I completed my Peace Dollar Collection.
This made me go back through my old blue Whitman folders. There it was, the beat up Lincoln Cent folder. This made me get a new one and move the cents between the folders. After that, I decided to start getting the remaining 13 holes filled:
- 1909-S VDB
When I was a kid, these seemed to be impossible to obtain. That’s probably why I put this folder away in 1984 and wouldn’t think about filling those holes until 2018.
Between 2019 and 2021, I picked up 12 of these cents, whether it was from coin stores, coin shows or the local coin club auctions. In fact, on May 2, 2021, I got the key date 1914-D at the Garden State Stamp and Coin Show in Parsippany, NJ. I’ll be honest with you. Never did I think I would own a 1914-D Lincoln Cent. I thought I would have to pay hundreds of dollars for one, but I got the one shown above for under $200. Granted, it’s a low grade coin, but I’ve got a 1914-D!!!
One To Go
This leaves me with one Lincoln Cent hole left to fill, and it will be the toughest. With only 484,000 minted, the 1909-S VDB is the rarest of the regular circulated Lincoln Cents. Compare that with 3,560,800,000 cents minted at Philadelphia in 2020. That means for every 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent minted, there were 7,357 2020 Philadelphia cents produced. I guess I won’t be finding it in change any time soon.
For those new to coin collecting, let me give you a little more information about the 1909-S VDB. Back when they started minting Lincoln Cents, the initials of designer Victor David Brenner appeared on the reverses of both the Philadelphia and San Francisco cents. A few days after the release, some were against the initials because they thought it was a form of advertising. Can you believe it? So, the production of the cent was stopped for three days so they could produce new dies without the initials. Turns out the VDB initials would return to the cent in 1918, but on the obverse.
This is going to cost hundreds of dollars for a very low grade one. Will I own a 1909-S VDB cent in the future? Like I said earlier, I never thought I would own a 1914-D. Yet, I started filling this folder back in 1977 and 44 years later, I filled 89 of the holes. It’s possible I’ll get that 90th cent. Hopefully, it won’t take another 44 years.
Do You Own All Of The Early Lincoln Cents?
From what I’ve heard, many still need the 1909-S VDB and the 1914-D. Some collectors are like me and just need the 1909-S VDB, and there are a few that have every single one. What about you? Are you like me and let it go for decades and went back and filled holes? Let me know about your Lincoln Cent collection.