1909 Lincoln V.D.B. Cent

in Lincoln Pennies

The popularity of the 1909 Lincoln V.D.B. Cent is owed completely to an administrative decision made by the Treasury Department and the United States Mint. That decision removed the artist’s initials of V.D.B. from the 1909 Lincoln Wheat Cent mere days after the coin debuted.

Interest in creating a new design for the cent coin (sometimes referred to as pennies) was expressed by President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. He had just recently overseen a "modernization" of other American coinage and was looking to honor the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln on the cent coin to celebrate the 1909 centennial of Lincoln’s birth.

To accomplish that task, Roosevelt enlisted the help of artist Victor David Brenner who created the obverse and reverse designs that would eventually be found on the cent. Those designs included an obverse portrait of Lincoln and a reverse design showing two wheat heads. On the bottom of the reverse design, Brenner placed his initials of V.D.B..

The US Mint initially struck the coins as designed and launched them around the country on August 2, 1909. Public demand for the new strikes was intense but many questioned the inclusion of the artists initials on the coin despite the fact that other coins in circulation also had artist’s initials struck on them.

However, to address the concerns, the Treasury Department and the United States Mint opted to remove the initials completely from the design seeing it as the fastest way to alleviate the issue. Within ten days from their initial launch, the US Mint was already striking the modified designs which omitted the V.D.B. initials.

Despite only being struck for a short period of time, the US Mint did manage to produce 27,995,000 of the 1909 Lincoln V.D.B. Cents at its Philadelphia facility and 484,000 at its San Francisco facility. However, that limited mintage (especially of the San Francisco strikes) makes these coins a key to any complete Lincoln Cent collection.

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