How Much is an 1909 VDB Penny Worth? (Price Chart)

A penny with Lincoln’s portrait was created in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birth centennial. It was the first time in American coin history to see a real person on US coinage used in circulation. It was a crucial moment, but a designer made a mistake.

The first pieces were quickly removed after public and press outrage over overemphasized initials on the coin reverse. That way, one man’s ego made the first coins minted in 1909 rare and desirable among collectors, and 1909 VDB Penny value unexpectedly high.

 

1909 VDB Penny History

1909 VDB Penny History
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As you know, rare coins and errors are always pricey, but the VDB penny is a unique case since it is a regular piece. When engraver Victor D. Brenner designed the Lincoln penny, he added his initials on the coin reverse.

It was pretty usual, but those three letters were too large and conspicuous, so such an inappropriate gesture immediately provoked anger and debate.

1909 VDB penny

Location Year Minted
Philadelphia 1909 27,995,000
Philadelphia 1909 proof 1,194
San Francisco 1909 S 484,000
Total /

It was considered free and entirely illegal advertising, so the US Mint solved the problem by removing the initials instead of placing them elsewhere. As a result, new cents didn’t have the VDB sign, making any preserved specimens with these three letters rare and highly collectible.

1909 VDB penny

Face value One cent ($0.01)
Compound 95% copper, plus 5% mix of tin and zinc
Coin weight 0.10970 ounces (3.11 g)
Coin diameter 0.75 inches (19.05 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Plain

 

1909 VDB Penny Type

Nowadays, you can find five 1909 Lincoln penny varieties, including:

  • The VDB type produced in the Philadelphia mint with the designer’s initials
  • The coin minted in Philadelphia with no initials
  • The San Francisco mint produced VDB penny with the designer’s initials
  • The S Lincoln penny without initials
  • The minting error from the San Francisco mint with the double-struck S

1909 VDB Penny

1909 VDB Penny

The Philadelphia mint produced 100,697,618 wheat pennies in 1909, including 27,995,000 VDB pieces and 72,702,618 coins without the designer’s initials.

1909 VDB penny value*

Quality 1909 1909 S
Good $12 $827
Very good $14 $917
Fine $16 $1,003
Very fine $17 $1,006
Extra fine $20 $1,423
About uncirculated $22 $1,671
MS 60 $23 $1,846
MS 63 $33 $2,222
PR 63 $3,051 /

*by USA Coin book

Pieces with the designer’s initials are worth $12 to $20 in low grades. On the other hand, you can get approximately $23 to $30 for an uncirculated coin.

1909 proof VDB penny

1909 proof VDB penny

The 1909 proof VDB Lincoln penny is among the rarest regular-issue proofs ever minted. Its mintage was not low, but it is estimated that less than 200 pieces still exist, including only a few specimens in the red proof grade.

1909 VDB proof penny value by Greysheet

Quality 1909 VDB BN 1909 VDB RB 1909 VDB RD
PR 60 $6,560 to $7,500 / /
PR 61 $6,880 to $7,810 $8,120 to $9,380 /
PR 62 $9,380 to $10,800 $10,900 to $12,000 /
PR 63 $10,600 to $12,000 $12,600 to $15,000 $14,400 to $16,800
PR 64 $18,600 to $21,400 $19,800 to $25,800 $29,400 to $34,200
PR 65 $19.800 to $22,800 $22,200 to $28,200 $45,600 to $55,200
PR 66 $28.800 to $33.600 $31,200 to $38,400 $64,800 to $74,500
PR 67 / $162,000 to $186,300

That is a reason for high prices such coins reach. For instance, you need to set aside more than $33.500 for 1909 PR 66 VDB BN Lincoln penny and twice as much for a red coin in the same condition. Scarce 1909 PR 67 VDB RD Lincoln penny can reach approximately $160,000 to $186,000.

1909 S VDB Penny

1909 S VDB Penny

San Francisco produced 2,309,000 Lincoln pennies in 1909. Besides 484,000 VDB coins, the mint struck 1,825,000 pieces without disputed initials.

1909 VDB penny value*

Year Quality
Good Fine Extra fine Uncirculated
1909 VDB $2.95 $6.44 $9.25 $16
1909 S VDB $429 $628 $743 $973

*by CoinStudy

The mintage from San Francisco with initials is costly. Even coins in low grades are worth $400 to $1,000. An AU piece can reach $1,500, while those in the mint state are even more expensive.

Their value goes from $1,700 to $2,000, depending on the coin’s preservation status. The most expensive specimen is the 1909 S MS 66 VDB penny sold in 2018 for $4,150.

 

1909 VDB Penny Rarities and Key Dates

You can find two rare 1909 Lincoln penny errors, including:

1909 S/S Lincoln penny with the vertical S over the horizontal S

1909 SS Lincoln penny with the vertical S over the horizontal S

After punching the S mint mark to the die upside down, this scarce and valuable coin occurred. Somehow, the first letter was minted horizontally. Even though the error was corrected by striking the vertical letter over the existing wrong one, you can still see the first S.

You can count on a 10% premium if you have such a piece. An auction record of $24,000 went to an MS 67 error coin in 2018.

1909 VDB penny value by Greysheet

Quality 1909 VDB 1909 VDB RB 1909 RD
Good $4 to $5.3 / /
Very good $4.7 to $6.5 / /
Fine $8.1 to $9.7 / /
Very fine $9.4 to $13 / /
Extra fine $12.1 to $15.4 / /
AU $13.5 to $21 / /
MS 60 $23 to $27.5 / /
MS 61 $24.30 to $29.16 / /
MS 62 $27 to $32.40 / /
MS 63 $29.70 to $35.64 $35.1 to $42.1 /
MS 64 $65 to $78 $68 to $81 $101 to $122
MS 65 $74 to $89 $81 to $108 $202 to $240
MS 66 $108 $150 to $182 $494 to $552
MS 67 / $650 to $1,250 $1,150 to $1,500
MS 68 / / $60,000 to $72,000

1909 Lincoln penny with a doubled die obverse

This error appeared after the hub printed a misaligned image onto the die. As a result, you can see the date with an outline around the original strike. In some cases, this error is obvious, but sometimes you need a magnifying glass to spot it.

These error coins are typically valuable. For instance, a 1909 VDB MS 67+ RD DDO error coin was sold for $23,000 at auction in 2009.

 

1909 VDB Penny Grading

1909 VDB Penny Grading

Uncirculated – Only the penny without signs of wear can be graded as the piece in mint condition. It never spent a day in circulation, and all the details, including Lincoln’s curls, are rounded and well-separated. Every collector looks for such a beautiful piece.

1909 VDB DDO penny value by Greysheet

Quality 1909 VDB DDO 1909 VDB DDO RB 1909 VDB DDO RD
Good $22.9 to $32.4 / /
Very good $37.8 to $48.6 / /
Fine $44.5 to $65 / /
Very fine $74 to $117 / /
Extra fine $115 to $135 / /
About uncirculated $122 to $151 / /
MS 60 $130 to $156 / /
MS 61 $143 to $172 / /
MS 62 $156 to $187 / /
MS 63 $176 to $211 $182 to $218 $292 to $338
MS 64 $247 to $284 $260 to $299 $442 to $508
MS 65 $650 to $748 $780 to $897 $1,250 to $1,400
MS 66 / / $3,000 to $3,450
MS 67 / / $12,000 to $14,400

Extra fine – You can notice slight signs of wear over the coin surface appearing after a short time spent in circulation. You should look at the President’s curl and check if it is clearly separated from the larger hair part. The coin will get this grade when all hair details are well-separated.

Fine – Many of Lincoln’s design parts are flattened because of heavy wearing. You can notice merged forehead and curl, while many delicate details are lost over time. Brenner’s initials and the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM are smooth but usually not entirely.

1909 S VDB penny value by Greysheet

Quality 1909 S VDB 1909 S VDB RB 1909 S VDB RD
Good $748 to $860 / /
Very good $812 to $960 / /
Fine $910 to $1,070 / /
Very fine $1,020 to $1,400 / /
Extra fine $1,250 to $1,510 / /
AU $1,380 to $1,940 / /
MS 60 $1,750 to $2,010 / /
MS 61 $1,880 to $2,160 $2,060 to $2,370 /
MS 62 $2,000 to $2,300 $2,200 to $2,530 $2,190 to $2,520
MS 63 $2,000 to $2,300 $2,480 to $2,760 $2,500 to $2,880
MS 64 $2,250 to $2,590 $2,920 to $3,360 $3,810 to $4,380
MS 65 $2,750 to $3,380 $3,750 to $4,750 $7,750 to $8,910
MS 66 $4,750 to $5,620 $6,880 to $7,620 $12,500 to $15,000
MS 67 $24,000 to $30,000 $30,000 to $42,000 $60,000 to $78,000

Good – It is the lowest grade for a collectible coin that spent years in circulation. Most hair details are flattened, and the penny looks worn out. However, thanks to the design depth, the Lincoln outline is still bold.

 

Summary

The US Mint produced five Lincoln penny variations in 1909, including those with designer’s initials. Their value depends on a few features, such as the coin’s mint mark, type, rarity, and condition. Since the price range is wide, every collector can find an appropriate specimen for themselves.

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