Lincoln Wheat cents, one of the most collected coin series, are always popular. What’s been selling well recently?
Anything unique or good quality, Charmy Harker, Irvine, Calif., said. Harker, also known as The Penny Lady, pointed to toned Lincoln cents in particular.
“Toned coins are big sellers,” she said. “I just sold a 1936 Lincoln cent proof that was purple and blue. I sold that for a big premium. “If you can get a blue or silver toned proof, you can throw the price guide out the window. A coin like that would easily sell double to triple its normal price.”
Vibrant colors like blue, purple or even silver can be found on Lincoln Wheat cents, she said.
“Copper coins can tone all kinds of colors and it depends on how they were stored. In the old days, the envelopes and albums contained sulfur which would tone the coins in them.”
Even if toned cents aren’t your thing, key and semi-key date Lincoln cents are popular in circulation grades, she said.
“I get asked for the mid-grade examples for collector’s books,” she said. “Those are the ones they need.
“The younger people and grandparents who are collecting for their grandchildren are buying lower grades.
“They are affordable in XF-AU. Those are really my most popular grades.”
Collector interest has brought up prices of circulated key and semi-key dates recently, she said.
“The high expensive coins over $1,000 have slowed down,” Harker said. “Those under $500 or so have seen a slight increase. I see it picking up this year.
“The 1931-S is affordable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one under very fine.
“The 1914-D in lower grades is affordable. With the 1914-D, there’s not much of a price difference between good and very good. In the higher grades the 1914-D is a much more rarer coin than the 1909-S VDB.
“The 1909-S VDB a surprising number of people want in good.”
The 1909-S VDB may have also seen some flooding on the market recently, she said.
“I had heard that a little hoard had been released,” she said. “There’s been an abundance on the market.”
Though it is an error coin, the 1955 doubled-die cent has seen high collector interest, she said.
“The 1955 doubled die is still popular,” Harker said. “I get asked about it at least once every show.”
Bruce Benoit, senior numismatist at Eagle Eye Rare Coins, Tuscon, Ariz., said error and variety Lincoln cents have been big sellers.
“There’s an ongoing interest in errors like repunched mintmarks or any number of errors and varieties,” he said. “We recently sold a nice 1944-D/D repunched mintmark.
“We also sold several collections of error and variety Lincoln cents. I’ve seen interest in the 1922 no D and 1922-D Lincoln cents because of that popular error.”
Harker said that collectors should watch out for Lincoln Wheat cents that don’t normally reach high grades because of weak strikes.
“The Denver Mint especially and the San Francisco Mint in the 1920s had weak strikes, like the 1923-S, 1924-S and 1925-S,” she said. “A 1920-D is hard to get in high grades because they were weakly struck. If you get a higher grade, they are highly desirable.
“People will pay more for quality, problem free coins.”
She said that the 1943 Lincoln Wheat steel cents catch collectors’ eyes in high Mint State grades.
“My table is full of copper so the steel cents really stand out to the collector,” she said. “They are very popular and are inexpensive in high grades. With the MS-68, it’s $1,500. But in MS-67, it’s $150. In MS-66, it’s only $50.
“The high grades look like sterling silver. They look gorgeous.”
Collectors should properly store high grade 1943 steel cents, she said.
“Just keep them away from moisture,” Harker said. “That’s bad for copper too. If you are in Florida or Hawaii, you’ll want to keep them with a dehumidifier.
“The steels cents can get little spots like watermarks on them from moisture. They can also get a really dull appearance.”
Benoit said that the copper Lincoln wheat cents of the 1940s and 1950s in high grades are also in demand.
“Even the common ’40’s and ’50’s in certified holders in MS-64 and MS-65 are selling well,” he said.
“I think that collectors are stepping it up with grades. If they have a MS-64, they’ll want a MS-65.”
Harker said to focus on eye appeal and color when purchasing certified, high grade Lincoln Wheat cents.
“I sent in a 1909-S to a grading company that I thought was red and it came back labeled as red-brown,” she said. “I sold it for a big premium because it was red though.”
There’s no consistency when it comes to defining a brown, red-brown or red Lincoln Wheat cent, she said.
“There is no definition, but who’s to say how one person is going to label it as a red or a red-brown?” she said. “It depends on how the grader is that day and how much light they are viewing the coin under. More light will reveal more red on a cent.
“I had a 1955 doubled-die that was certified MS-64 brown and it had some red in it. I wanted to cross it over to another grading company and it came back as MS-64 red-brown. It’s too subjective.”
Instead, collectors should focus on what percentage of red is on the cent, she said.
“I try to label them as 90, 80 or 70 percent red cents instead of red or red-brown,” Harker said. “It depends on what’s more appealing to you.”
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