The best place to start collecting would be with pennies, we will focus on the Lincoln Cent for the years 1909 through 1958, which are the Wheat Cents. There are still a number of “wheat cents” showing up in circulation, so it is possible to start a coin collection without spending a great deal of money.
While you are searching your pocket change for “wheat cents”, be sure to check for silver coinage and of course check those quarters. Then new 50 State Commemorative Quarters are a very good place to start since you can find five new states each year plus the different mint marks.
Getting back to pennies, which is where we want to start our new collection. The first Lincoln Cent was minted in 1909 and was made of copper. The mint continued to make pennies from copper until 1943, when for this year only, they were made of steel and zinc plated to prevent them from rusting. These coins appear to be silver or gray in color because of the plating. The pennies were made of steel because of a copper shortage brought on by the war, but they resumed using copper in 1944. Between 1909 and 1958 the penny featured Lincoln on the obverse (front of the coin) and the words “ONE CENT” over “United States of America” framed by bundles of wheat on each side of the words, there by getting the descriptive name of “Wheat Cents”. This is how the penny is called for the years 1909-1958. Other than a minor change in the composition of the metal which was 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc until 1943 when they were zinc plated steel, and then 1944 until 1958 when they were 95% copper, 5% zinc and no tin.For more details, please visit these sites:- www.bunnydirectories.com
The Penny remained the same for 50 years. It was designed by Victor David Brenner, whose initials appeared on the reverse, of some, of the coins minted that first year. There are two varieties of the 1909, some have the VDB on the reverse, (back of coin) at the bottom of the coin at the 6 o’clock position, and others do not. The pennies were minted at Philadelphia, Pa. and San Francisco, Ca. The pennies from San Francisco have a small “s” under the date while the Philadelphia coins have no mintmark. The coins to watch for are the ones with mintmarks; this applies to all coins not just pennies. The value of coins is greatly based on rarity and with the Philadelphia mint being the largest of the mints; it was natural for them to produce the greatest number of coins. There is also a mint in Denver, Co. and a mint, which had been closed by this time in Carson City. The Denver mint put a small “d” under the date and on older coinage of other types you will find the letters “CC” for Carson City.
Mint Marks are Important, learn to watch for them.
Back to pennies, in 1909 when the first Lincoln (wheat cent) penny was made, they minted 72,702,618 in Philadelphia without the designers, Victor David Brenner, initials. They produced 27,995,000 with the VDB on the reverse of the penny. This same year, 1909, San Francisco minted 1,825,000 without the designer’s initials and 484,000 with the initials VDB on the reverse at the bottom of the coin. So now for the economics lesson of supply and demand and how it affects price. If you had a 1909-penny in “good” condition it would be worth about 75 cents, in “mint” condition it would be valued at about $14.00. If you had a 1909 with VDB on the reverse in “good” condition, it would be worth about $1.80, in “mint” condition ( I can’t explain this ) the value is about $9.00 ( the only apparent reason for the penny with the lower mintage being worth less in mint condition then the plain 1909 in mint condition, would be that in numismatic records kept by the grading services, there are probably more 1909 VDB’s on record than plain 1909’s) If you had a 1909s in “good” condition it is worth $37.00, in “mint” condition about $120.00. Now if you were lucky enough to find a 1909s with the initials VDB on the reverse in “good” condition it is worth $350.00 and in “mint” condition it is worth $680.00 or more. Not bad for a penny.
In all coin types and series there exists what are known as “key dates”, for now lets just say they are important because of a number of factors (another big subject), but that they are important in collecting coins of all types, not just pennies. The “key dates” for the Lincoln penny 1909-1958 are:
The semi-key dates, also valuable, but not as significant as the “key dates” are: 1910s, 1911d, 1911s, 1912s, 1913d, 1913s, 1914s, 1915, 1921s, 1922d, 1923s, 1924d, 1926s, 1931d, and 1933d.
This takes you through the “wheat cents” 1909-1958, along with keys and semi-keys each series of coin has Error varieties, Die varieties, and double die varieties which are also worth more than the common date coins. These again are subjects in themselves but a brief description is needed to make you aware of what to look for in collecting coins.
Error varieties are any condition, which may have existed resulting in a coin being struck and getting into circulation in a condition of appearance to be other than what was intended by the U.S. Mint. Simply said if it looks different than all the other s as a result of a mint mistake and not tampering or defacing by an individual, than it is an error, and they tend to be worth more.
Double Die varieties are actually errors because the coin after being stamped does not exit the die but remains in the die and is struck again causing parts of the design to be duplicated. Sometimes the duplicate is very noticeable other double die varieties require a powerful magnifying glass or microscope to see them.
Die varieties are the result of many dies being used to mint any particular series of coin. They could never produce this many pennies with only one die. Each die has its own characteristics, small differences between dies, which are noticeable enough that you can distinguish pennies or other coins being minted by a particular die.
As you may become educated at this point into the many details of coin collecting, let me say this now. Coin Collecting should be no more involved, difficult, or time consuming than you want it to be. The main objective of coin collecting is enjoyment, if you are interested in investing, find a Stock Broker. Lastly, I borrow this comment from another person whose name I don’t remember, but who deserves the credit none the less. “As a coin collector, you are not a coin owner, but a coin keeper. Although you have the actual coins in your possession and legally they are yours to hold, buy, sell or trade, while they are in your possession you should do everything possible to maintain the condition and appearance of the coins.”(To who ever said this, I apologize for not being able to quote you verbatim or give you your due credit) “As keepers of coins, we enjoy our collection, than pass them to the next generation of keepers.” This was significant to me personally, as it links, you, others, and me in a great chain from past through present and into the future as we are the keeper of coins, coin collectors and Numismatists