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Lincoln cent made Denver debut in 1911

The Denver Lincoln cents in the period up to 1916 tend to be overlooked even though they are a better group, especially in top grades. The 1911-D is not only in that group, but it also stands out as an historically important issue.

The 1911-D stands out because prior to 1911 there were no other Denver Lincoln cents. Certainly part of the reason is that in 1911 the Denver Mint had been in operation for less than a decade.

There was, however, another reason. A lack of cent and nickel production was not limited to Denver. San Francisco did not produce a cent until 1908. This was because a law previously had dictated that coins that did not contain gold or silver could only be produced at Philadelphia. The law might seem ridiculous to us now, but it made sense for mining interests in the West.

This continued for years even though the West apparently had some problems in terms of adequate supplies of minor coins for circulation. Finally the law was changed and that opened the door for San Francisco and Denver cents and nickels.

The delay in producing cents at Denver was probably in large part because the facility was new. San Francisco started cent production in 1908 and it continued at a regular pace every year. The mintages were not large by cent standards, but at least some cents were being produced.

In 1911 Denver was finally ready to take the big step and produce its first Lincoln cents. The total mintage of the 1911-D was 12,672,000. It was not a large total by cent standards, but it was actually higher than any San Francisco cent total.

There may have been some small amount of saving because it was the first cent produced at Denver, but that saving was probably not as high as it might have been. The Lincoln cent was not new.

In addition, collecting by date and mint was still anything but universal. Normally, collectors at the time collected only by date. In the case of Lincoln cents, it was also a very new concept to want a coin for each year from every mint. Prior to 1908, there had been no mints other than Philadelphia producing the cent.

Whether it was saved in unusual numbers or not, the fact is that the 1911-D did circulate in significant numbers for many years. We see a $5.25 price for a G-4 today. Considering the mintage, that is a very reasonable price.

In MS-60 the 1911-D is $80. That too is very inexpensive considering the coin’s low mintage and historic value. In MS-65 the $1,550 price seems high but when you compare it with the MS-65 prices of the other Denver dates of the period, you learn that it really is not high at all. The 1913-D had a higher mintage but is $2,100 in MS-65. Realistically, the 1911-D is a good value for a historic coin.

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