Lincoln cent enthusiasts can readily reel off the "Big Four" key dates while sleeping... 1909-S, 1909-S VDB, 1914-D, and 1931-S. But many Lincoln penny collectors contend there's a fifth key date, and we're not talking about varieties such as the 1922 plain or 1955 doubled die. Rather, there's the 1911-S Lincoln cent, a regular-issue scarcity from the early part of the series run hailing from the San Francisco Mint -- a place that made many of the series semi-keys.
The 1911-S Lincoln cent no doubt holds its own among semi-keys, but this coin is quite unlike the other semi-key dates. The 1911-S Lincoln cent has a mintage of only 4,026,000, which is lower than all other S-mint dates in the series except for the 1909-S, 1909-S VDB, and 1931-S. Furthermore, it's also the most expensive date in circulated condition beyond the four rare regular issues.
Finding an example in nice condition with strong strike is tougher than many might assume. That's just one reason why a tied-for-finest 1911-S Lincoln Cent graded MS66RD by Professional Coin Grading Service took an astounding $19,200 at a June 2021 Heritage Auctions event. This coin, with a population of just two, boasts outstanding Red surfaces, needlepoint strike, and has peerless eye appeal.
*Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com.