Many budding collectors get curious about the 1909 VDB penny value at some point. After all, it’s important to understand this and the factors that drive it before investing in these pennies.
Fortunately, you don’t have to pay anyone to give you this information; we’re going to help you with that in this post.
1909 VDB Penny Value Chart
|Grade||1909 VDB No Mint Mark Penny (P) Value||1909 VDB “S” Penny Value|
1909 VDB No Mint Mark Penny (P) Value
The 1909 VDB penny is the first Lincoln cent to be produced. However, Lincoln cents have continued to be minted each year to date. All Lincoln cents have the image of Abraham Lincoln on their obverse.
They are the first coins to bear the image of a real person. They replaced the Indian Head penny and were launched to celebrate 100 years since Lincoln’s birth.
The idea to replace the Indian Head penny was spearheaded by the US president at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904. He felt that the coins of the time weren’t artistic enough. As such, he encouraged the mint to get new coin designs.
So in 1905, the mint went ahead and hired a sculptor to do its designs. His name was Augustus Saint-Gaudens and he was charged with designing four gold coins as well.
The four gold coins were the quarter eagle, the half eagle, the eagle, and the double eagle. All the designs he was in charge of could be changed without getting approval from Congress because they had not been changed for 25 years.
When Augustus began work on the designs, he had planned to place an eagle on the penny. However, this idea was rejected because US law prohibits the placing of an eagle image on a penny.
Beyond that, Augustus couldn’t finish his designs; he got cancer and died in 1907. As a result, the mint hired Victor David Brenner to design the Lincoln Cent. Eventually, it was his designs that graced the obverse and reverse sides of the 1909 VDB penny.
The reverse design features an image of Lincoln’s bust facing right and an “IN GOD WE TRUST” inscription above his head along the coin’s rim. It also has a date to the right of his profile and the word “LIBERTY” to the left, just behind his neck.
On the other hand, the reverse design features two groups of words at its center. These are “ONE CENT” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. The first group is placed above the second and it’s in a bigger font.
Around these words, there are two stalks of wheat, one along the left rim and another along the left. Along the top rim, there is the motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” while the bottom rim has the designer’s initials, VDB.
But these initials didn’t stay on the design for long. A few days after these coins were launched, the mint decided to do away with them going forward. These initials only came back in 1918.
But this time they were placed on the obverse side, on Lincoln’s shoulder. Because of these, the 1909 VDB pennies are rare. Even the largest US mint in Philadelphia only produced around 28 million 1909 VDB pennies; none had a mint mark.
Of these, 27,995,000 were regular-strike coins and 1,194 were matte proofs. The regular-strike coins are readily available today, even in mint-state condition. While a G4 grade can cost a mere $6 a red MS68 can go for as high as $57,000.
However, the price difference between an MS68 and other mint-state coins is high. Even a red MS67+ will usually only go for around $4,000. Generally, the proofs have a more consistent price range.
While a PR60 will sell for around $7,000, a red PR66 will go for around $75,000. A red PR68 can even sell for a whopping $380,000. Remember, both proof and regular-strike coins go for more when red.
Whatever the case, all 1909 VDB no mint mark pennies have the same shape, size, weight, and composition. They are round with a 19 mm diameter and a smooth plain edge.
Beyond that, they are made of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. This gives them a mass of 3.11 grams.
1909 VDB “S” Penny Value
The 1909 VDB S penny has the same size, composition, shape, and weight as the 1909 VDB no mint penny. The only difference between them is that the former has an “S” mint mark indicating that it was made at the San Francisco facility.
This mint mark is located on the obverse of the coin, right below the date engraving. Keep in mind though; there are several exact locations that this mint mark can appear. This is because four different dies were used to create the mint mark on the 1909 VDB pennies.
The first die placed the mint mark in a high location, with its top edge higher than the legs of the two 9 digits in the date inscription. The second die placed the mint mark a bit lower, with its top being parallel to the ends of the legs of the two 9 digits.
Also, its left is parallel to the right edge of the first 9 in the date. The third die placed the mark in the same place as the second in relation to its distance from the legs of the 9s.
However, the mark’s left edge was parallel with the middle of the space between the first two digits of the date. On the other hand, the fourth die placed the mint mark in the lowest position, significantly below the legs of the 9 digits in the date.
Mint marks aside though, all 484,000 of the S pennies were regular strike coins. Due to their low mintage, these coins are usually rarer and more expensive than the regular-strike coins minted in Philadelphia.
A 1909 VDB S penny with a G4 grade can cost around $800 while an MS60 sells for around $2,000. A red MS67 can fetch a whopping $175,000. Remember, the redder a coin is, the more expensive it will be.
If there’s one thing you should note though, it’s that these are not the only Lincoln cents that the San Francisco facility produced that year or in years to come.
Once the mint decided to remove the “VDB” initials from the cent’s reverse side, it went on to mint a little over 1.8 million pennies in 1909 alone. Together with the Philadelphia facility, it continued to mint coins using this reverse design until 1958.
The Denver mint joined them in 1911. But in 1959, the mint started using a reverse design featuring the Lincoln Memorial. The design was the work of Frank Gasparro and even bore his initials near the right side of the memorial’s base.
While some people weren’t fond of this design, it remained on the Lincoln cent until 2008. In 2009 it was replaced by four bicentennial designs. These were created to depict Lincoln’s early childhood, formative years, professional life, and presidency.
These were only minted in 2009 though; in 2010, the mint introduced a reverse design featuring a union shield. This design is still minted today. Keep in mind though; today’s cent doesn’t have the same composition and weight as the one launched in 1909.
It is made of 97.5% copper and 2.5% zinc. This composition gives it a weight of 2.5 grams. Interestingly, the mint started using this composition in 1982. Before this, it changed the Lincoln cent’s composition once, and for one year only.
This was in 1943 when it used zinc-plated steel. This was done because of the high copper prices that year. The change was short-lived because the resulting coins stained faster than the original ones.
1909 VDB Penny Grading
Grading 1909 VDB pennies is best done by professional agencies like PCGS and NGC. However, you should only send your best pennies to these agencies.
This is because they charge a fee and it doesn’t make sense to spend money you can’t earn back in profit. So take your time when deciding what to send to them. Look out for flaws like stains and wear lines.
Also, observe the color of the pennies you have. Those that have a red tint usually cost more and are worth sending in for grading. However, some of these tints can be fake; some fraudsters have started applying some chemicals to coins to achieve them.
So be wary of pink, orange, and other unusual tints.
Rare 1909 VDB Penny Lists
1909 VDB Penny Double Die Obverse (DDO) Type 1
A double die error occurs when design elements on a die are doubled. This is usually due to a manufacturing error. When a coin is struck using such a die, it ends up with some duplicate design elements.
This gives your coin a unique look and makes it more valuable. It’s estimated that around 500 1909 VDB pennies have a double die. As such, many consider this type of coin as a variety.
Whatever the case, this error commonly shows up on the penny’s obverse as a clear doubling of the first two digits of the date and the letters RTY in “LIBERTY. When this happens, the error is known as a Type 1 double die obverse error.
When this shows up in a coin with a VF20 grading, it sells for around $70. But when the same error appears on a red MS65 1909 VDB penny, it sells for over $1,000.
1909 VDB Penny Double Die Obverse (DDO) FS-1102
This is the second type of double die obverse error that you can find on a 1909 VDB penny. It’s rarer than the first type and usually shows up as an extra thickness in the date digits and the vertical elements of the “LIBERTY” inscription.
It even features a die chip in the upper part of the letter R. Because of how rare this error is, it can make your penny extremely valuable. A red min-state 1909 VDB penny with this error usually sells for thousands of dollars.
1909 VDB Penny FAQ
How much is a 1909 VDB S penny worth?
A 1909 VDB S penny will typically sell for $800 to $200,000. The redder and higher the grade of the penny, the more expensive it will be.
How many 1909 VDB pennies are left?
According to PCGS numismatic experts, around 5,000 brown 1909 S VDB pennies still exist in MS60 or higher. On the other hand, around 6,000 of these pennies still exist in the color red-brown and grades MS60 and higher.
There are also only 5,000 of these in the color red and grades MS60 and higher; only around 3,000 have a grade of MS65 or higher. However, survival rates for 1909 VDB no-mint mark regular-strike pennies are much higher.
It’s estimated that 40,000 brown regular-strike 1909 VDB pennies exist in mint-state; only 20,000 exist in MS65 or higher. These numbers apply to red-brown and red samples as well.
Proofs are much rarer though; around 60 brown ones exist in mint state. Only 35 of these are MS65 or higher. Only 147 red-brown mint-state proofs exist, 67 of which have a grade of MS65 or higher.
On the other hand, there are only 65 mint-state red samples, 35 of which have a grade of MS65 or higher.
How can you tell if a 1909 VDB S is real?
To tell if a 1909 VDB S penny is real, look at its VDB inscription and mint mark. For one, a genuine VDB S mint mark will have parallel serifs. Also, a genuine VDB on these coins will be a bit slanted. This is most noticeable in the letter B.