The 1911 wheat cent is an iconic currency. Dubbed the ‘Lincoln cent’ for its significant purpose, it features famous President Abraham Lincoln and a set of wheat strands. Designed by Victor David Brenner, the 1911 penny is one of the Lincoln Memorials that began official circulation in 1911.
The 1911 penny has a face value of $0.1 and up to $54+ in certified mint state. The coin is a composite masterpiece containing 95% copper and 5% (tin/zinc).
Read on for a fact file of the 1911 penny, its features, history of design, and value. You’ll also find reliable information on grading the 1911 Lincoln wheat penny.
About the 1911 Lincoln Wheat Penny
1911 is one of the Lincoln Memorial cents struck by the mints between 1909 and 1958. The 1911 Wheat Penny features a profile image of Lincoln on the obverse and two wheat strands on the reverse. Made of 95% copper, 5% (tin/zinc), the coin began official circulation in 1911.
Summary of 1911 Wheat Coin
- Name: 1911 Lincoln Penny
- Coin Series: Proofs,1911 D, 1911, 1911 S
- Portrait: Lincoln
- Reverse Feature: Two wheat strands
- Denomination: One cent ($0.01)
- Value at the Pawnshop: $0.70-$23 or more
- Metal Used: 5% (tin and zinc), 95% copper
- Diameter: 19.05 mm
- Mass: 3.11 grams
- Mint: Denver, San Francisco, Philadelphia
- Sculptor: Brenner David Victor
- Number of Coins: 117,875,787
The design of the Lincoln cent was significant to the history of the United States of America. It was the first coin to feature the human face of the President on its obverse. Previously, President Roosevelt had expressed the need to create a new design for American cents. Without an existing Congress restriction, Saint-Gaudens, a sculptor, landed the job. He made a few designs before suddenly passing away from illness.
Afterward, the Mint began searching for a sculptor for the Lincoln Memorial cent. In the process, the President noticed a plaque that Victor designed several years ago. The plaque had a frontal picture of Abraham Lincoln. Impressed by Victor’s talent, the President, through the Mint, invited him to participate in the formulation of the Lincoln cent.
After a careful comparison of three models designed by Brenner, the mints approved a simple design for the Lincoln penny. It featured Lincoln on the obverse and two wheat strands on the reverse. Although the Mint required no approval to redesign the coins, the US Treasury secretary’s support was necessary. So, after the secretary’s approval in August 1909, the Lincoln penny was officially available to the public on August 2, 1909.
The first model had Brenner’s name, which changed into the initials “VDB.” However, due to massive public outcry, the Mint removed the initials too. It was until 1918 that Victor’s initials appeared on the coin again.
The US mints struck the 1911 penny as part of a series to celebrate Lincoln’s anniversary. Having served as President and founding father, Lincoln deserved the honor. Some numismatists and the public mounted pressure to create a Lincoln coin in his honor. Therefore, public sentiment proved more substantial than the old practice of having the mythical Liberty on American coinages.
So, the mints launched a project to design a Lincoln penny bearing the image of President Lincoln. In addition, none of the coinages had an American human face, and the Lincoln coin would mark a notable change.
Number of Coins Struck
The coin came from three mints, namely; Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver.
The main Mint struck 101,177,787 pieces, while Denver struck 12,672,000 Lincoln pennies. The lowest mintage came from San Francisco, which had 4,026,000. Additionally, the mints struck 1,725 proofs in 1911.
1911 Lincoln Cent Features
The 1911 penny bears subtle features on reverse and obverse sides. A closer look at the coin will reveal various slogans, mint marks, and images that help easy identification.
The portrait on the coin is of Lincoln, America’s former President. Victor drew inspiration from an old photo in which Abraham was reading a book.
The obverse has President Lincoln at the center, facing right. Lincoln wears a coat and a small bow tie. An inscription “In God we trust” runs clockwise, above Lincoln’s head, at the top margin. Another slogan, “Liberty,” appears behind the President in block text. The coin’s year of official issue (1911) appears right and slightly above Lincoln’s chest.
The upper part of the reverse has the coin’s denominational value in block text. The inscription “United States of America” appears slightly below the denominational value. Along both margins are two similar wheat stalks, from which the currency derives the name “wheat penny.” Along the upper rim is an inscription, “E Pluribus Unum.”
Like other wheat pennies, the 1911 Lincoln coin has significant slogans on the obverse and reverse sides;
‘E Pluribus Unum’
It is a Latin phrase that means: Out of many, one. The US adopted the term to affirm its ability to form a nation out of 50 states. It also signifies that the country consists of many people with diverse races, backgrounds, and beliefs.
The word “Liberty” stands for a mythical American goddess adopted from the New-York based Liberty statue. It is a symbolic light to the path of democracy and freedom.
‘In God, we trust.’
The US Congress passed an act on March 3, 1865, to allow the motto on America’s coinages. According to the slogan, the nation’s economic and political prosperity comes from God.
Mark of Mint
A mint mark is an important distinguishing feature that shows the Mint that struck the wheat coin. The US mints struck the 1911 penny with two distinct mint marks, namely;
- Denver: D
- San Francisco: S
All coins from Philadelphia in 1911 do not bear a mark of identification.
Like other wheat pennies struck before 1982, the 1911 series contained 5% (tin and zinc) and 95% copper. The 1911 penny has a weight of 3.11 grams and a diameter of 9.05 mm.
1911 Lincoln Coin Value
1911 wheat coins have a wide range of value, from 20 to 50 cents in circulated conditions to thousands of dollars in pristine conditions. Here we take a look at the different values of the coin:
1911 Lincoln Cent Value Table
|Condition||1911||1911 D||1911 S||Proof|
|Uncirculated (Mint State)||$18||$56||$121||$593|
The penny is worth a cent ($0.01). A closer look at the coin’s reverse will help you identify its face value.
The 1911 Lincoln coin consists of 95% copper. Based on the current copper prices, it is worth $0.0300 in melt value. However, you should note that the melt value is dynamic because it depends on the current spot price for copper. So, according to coin trackers, the melt value is always different.
Value at the Pawnshop
Brokers pay differently for a 1911 penny at a pawn shop, depending on its condition, rarity, or special features. The lowest price starts from $0.71 for a circulated penny from Philadelphia mint. In an uncirculated mint state, you can fetch $54 or more from the pawnbrokers. However, a proof penny can guarantee you at least $500 because proofs are the rarest and most valued.
1911 Penny Valuation
The 1911 wheat penny is more than a century old, hence not easy to find in the mint state. As a result, collectors are looking for high-grade coins with original mint luster. In addition, certain factors are important in determining the value of the currency.
1. Its Grade/ Condition
A close look at your coin’s general condition will give you an approximate value that professional graders may assign. Look at its appearance, and identify the level of the mint luster it retains. Besides brilliance, collectors have a great interest in worn-out prominent features such as the Lincoln profile.
Below are the grading conditions for a 1911 penny
- Uncirculated Grade
An uncirculated penny had little circulation time among collectors or users after official issuance. Without much wear, the mint luster included during manufacture remains unaltered. Hair waves above the head of Lincoln are well-defined and in original form.
- Extremely Fine Grade
In this condition, the coin has slight wear on the highest raised points. Mostly, only the rounded profile tops are flat from the minimal wear. Although Lincoln’s hair waves may have slight wear, the hair waves are distinct and well-defined. Additionally, it has an overall, beautiful brown tone over the surface.
- Fine Grade
Your coin should have moderate wear in this condition. The three waves of hair strands above Lincoln’s head are still visible but smooth. Fine details of hair weave appear merged and flat. Although it lacks original mint luster, it still retains an excellent eye appeal.
- Good Grade
A 1911 penny in this condition has no significant design features due to heavy wear out. Above Lincoln’s forehead, the hair waves appear heavily worn out. Lincoln’s profile is visible, although not clear.
The abundance or scarcity of a Lincoln penny affects its value. If many coins circulate, the supply increases, and the value is lower. 1911 S, which was the sixth-lowest mintage of all Lincoln series, hence a semi-key rarity. San Francisco mint only struck 4,026,000 pieces, making it scarce and highly valued in all conditions. An uncirculated MS-63 1911 S is worth about $295.
1911 proof is another exception, with only 1,725 copies. They have a sharp strike and squared rims, unlike the regular series.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which 1911 penny is valuable?
There are no unique error coins in the 1911 series; hence, proofs are most valued. A proof coin at certified PR 63 grade can earn at least $500
2. Where can I find the mark for mint location on a 1911 cent?
A 1911 Lincoln penny has a mark on the coin’s obverse, near the date of issuance.
3. Is my 1911 penny uncirculated?
A penny in the mint state has no sign of wear on the coin’s surface, fields, and legends. Additionally, it has a shiny brown luster.
In Conclusion: Is Lincoln (1911) Coin Worth Some Value?
1911 penny is a Lincoln Memorial cent struck to commemorate Abraham Lincoln. Designed by Brenner, it features a frontal image of Lincoln at the center obverse face. Despite a low face value, the coin is worth premium prices due to its high (95%) copper content. Besides a high copper content, an uncirculated mint luster and a unique sub-key rarity can give you higher prices.
Do you have any questions about your 1911 Lincoln penny? Ask us!