Few coins are as famous as the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent. Many people outside of the hobby know it as “the 1909 penny.” Lincoln cent enthusiasts often refer to it as “The Holy Grail.” And coin dealers widely regard it as a bestseller. However you see it, it’s hard to deny that the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent is one of most important coins in American numismatics.
And not necessarily because it’s the rarest coin, for it’s certainly not… A whopping 484,000 were made and Professional Coin Grading Service CoinFacts estimates some 50,000 still exist. It’s also not the most expensive coin — sure, at $650 and up even in well-worn grades it’s a lofty investment, but there are many popular coins worth multiples of that.
But, it does serve as the all-important key-date issue for its most popular series, and it’s a coin that so many collectors dreamed of finding in circulation or owning. Plus, there’s the story behind the coin, which was halted from production just a few weeks after its debut on August 2, 1909, after reports of public outcry behind designer Victor David Brenner’s prominent “VDB” initials on the reverse of the coin; they were removed and the coin sent back into production sans initials for many years afterward.
The 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent became an instant collectible, one for which too few coins were available to keep up with demand. While one can find the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent today at virtually any coin show, it’s still considered a numismatic rarity and continues enthralling collectors today just as it has for more than a century.