Skip to main content

1909 VDB Lincoln cent may repeat in 2009

Thanks to Public Law 109-145, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, you will be hearing a great deal about the 1909 VDB Lincoln cent in the near future.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Thanks to Public Law 109-145, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, you will be hearing a great deal about the 1909 VDB Lincoln cent in the near future. That?s only fair, as in 2009, the 1909 with VDB on the reverse ? the first Lincoln cent ? will be 100 years old.


What the new law will require is that the circulating Lincoln cent will feature four different reverses depicting his birth and early childhood in Kentucky, his formative years in Indiana, his professional life in Illinois and his presidency in Washington, D.C.

In addition, the reverse of the existing Lincoln cent after 2009 can be changed with the requirement being ?an image emblematic of President Lincoln?s preservation of the United States of America as a single and united country.? Technically, the current Lincoln Memorial reverse could remain, but in all probability, it will be replaced.

The legislation also requires that the Mint make a Lincoln cent in 2009 in the identical metal content as those of 1909. The coins are to be made only to be sold to collectors and with brilliant uncirculated and proofs possible, one of the two might be made in San Francisco, becoming the 2009-S VDB.

If there is a lot of attention given to the 1909 VDB in 2009, it will not be the first time that has happened, as certainly a century ago when it was the first Lincoln cent to reach the public, there was a lot of talk about the 1909 VDB.

Americans had never seen a coin like the 1909 VDB. The reason was simply that the tradition in the United States was that Americans did not appear on circulating coins. It had only been a few years earlier when George Washington had appeared on the first coin of any type, as he, along with Lafayette, was on the commemorative silver dollar honoring Lafayette.

The tradition of not using Americans on coins dated all the way back to 1792 when Congress had debated putting Washington on the coins. The Senate thought that was OK, but the House of Representatives and Washington himself thought it was too much like the practice in England of putting the king on the coins and nothing resembling England was very popular at that time. It stayed the practice for over a century that Americans, even if no longer living, did not appear on the coins.

Putting Abraham Lincoln, who older Americans might have remembered as children on the cent, was going to create an enormous amount of interest and it did. The interest was not all positive, as there were a few critics.

The interest can be seen in the fact that the 1909 VDB was saved in very large numbers. Today we see an MS-60 is priced at just $11, while an MS-65 is $100. Those prices have started to move to higher ground, perhaps reflecting some early buying, as the 1909 VDB will be a natural to package with a 2009. The supply has always been strong, as there have even been rolls available at almost any time in the past century. Of course, if there is a much larger and special demand, the supply could dry up and that would send the price of the 1909 VDB, which only had a mintage of 27,995,000, soaring.

The 2009 is likely to have that VDB, although the legislation doesn?t get into that. Whatever the outcome, the 1909 VDB will get a lot of publicity and that means new demand, which makes now a very good time to buy this historic coin.