What's the most expensive regular-issue Lincoln cent after the 1909-S, 1909-S VDB, 1914-D, and 1931-S? Still trying to figure out the riddle? Chances are you've already caught on from the coin featured here that the answer is none other than the 1911-S. It's not a coin that immediately crosses the minds of many collectors as being an important Lincoln cent. But indeed it is. In fact, one could make the argument that it's the fifth regular-issue "key" to the series and certainly among the toughest and most valuable of the semi-key Lincoln cents.
The 1911-S isn't necessarily rare nor expensive in the lower circulated grades. Tough? Yes, but not decisively rare. But the situation changes as one climbs the grading scale with this early S-mintmarked Lincoln cent. In uncirculated grades, the 1911-S is a true rarity, and in the top grades it becomes absolutely elusive. And we're not even talking about color distinctions, such as the ever-popular "Red." A 1911-S in MS66 Red is a treasure, and that's exactly what rounded the corner at a Heritage Auctions event in October 2020.
The example featured here was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) as MS66RD, making it just one of 17 specimens graded at that level with just one graded higher. The Lincoln cent series is unsurprisingly one of the most widely collected of all U.S. coin types, and that surely holds true on the PCGS Set Registry. Doubtlessly many PCGS Set Registry collectors were vying for this beauty when it crossed the auction block, and bidding was exuberant. The coin hammered at an astounding $14,400.
*Image is courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com.