The 2009 Lincoln cent with the Birthplace design on the reverse is the scarcest cent struck for circulation in over 40 years if you measure by a single mint’s output and the scarcest since 1954 if you lump the output together.
The Philadelphia Mint struck 284.8 million of the coins. The Denver Mint struck 350 million. The combined total is 634.8 million pieces.
Not since 1954 has the combined output of the nation’s minting facilities been so low.
You have to go back to 1968 to find an individual mint’s cent output that is lower than the 2009 Philadelphia Mint total. In that year, the San Francisco Mint cranked out 258,270,001 cents for circulation.
In an interesting parallel, collectors in 1968 were eagerly looking for the new cents because they were the first identifiable output from the San Francisco Mint since 1955. Many collectors considered the “S” mintmark to be almost magical because coins with it were often lower in number than the totals of other mints.
Collectors also were rather starved for something interesting in their change. There had been no mintmarks used since the 1964 coinage.
The 2009 Birthplace design is also almost magical because it has proven so difficult for many collectors to find in their change.
Low coin demand because of the recession has dramatically slowed the normal cent release process and many banks have not been inclined to spend the money to obtain supplies of the current date.
The next design of the four to be employed this year debuts in Indiana May 14. It marks Lincoln’s Formative Years in that state. Site of the special introduction ceremony will be the Lincoln Amphitheatre in Lincoln City, Ind.