A Dave's Collectible Coins Article

Wheat Cents

Lincoln Wheat Cent

Photo by Dave's Coins

Wheat pennies are a favorite among coin collectors and enthusiasts everywhere. The wheat penny has been around since 1909, and it was produced until 1958. The wheat pennies are not only fun to collect and are enjoyed by many, but they are quite collectible and they tend to hold their value.


George Washington didn’t want his image on a coin. This was a common idea among the Founding Fathers. Having just won freedom from the monarchs of England, they didn’t want to continue the tradition of putting the faces of rulers on coins. They decided instead upon putting Lady Liberty and symbols of freedom on the coins.

Theodore Roosevelt changed this practice in 1909. It was the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and President Roosevelt wanted to pay homage to him. He commissioned an accomplished artist to make the image of Lincoln for the coin. The artist’s name was Victor David Brenner (shown here).

Laws were passed which would allow the coin to be minted.

Photo By WikiMediaThe original design had Brenner’s full name on the coin. Mint officials felt the name was too prominent on the coin, so only his initials “VDB” were displayed.

The coin then went into distribution. The “VDB” shown on the coin upset some of the public. The initials were removed. Twenty-eight million VDB cents were minted at the Philadelphia mint. At the San Francisco mint less than a half a million of the wheat cents were minted with the initials “VDB” stamped on them.

The wheat penny was also the first cent to display the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST”.

Opposite to Lincoln, on the reverse, is displayed the wheat which gives the common name for the coin.

Throughout history, wheat has been a symbol of prosperity and fertility. We know from studying the lives of early Americans, they survived harsh winters. Wheat was a staple that allowed them to survive. We surmise that the wheat on the coin is not just a symbol of food, but of perseverance through hard times.

Victor David Brenner

Photo by WikiMedia

Photo by WikiMedia

Steel Cents

Except for a few changes here and there, the wheat penny was and is a copper coin. The cent was actually only changed for one year to a steel composition in 1943 as copper was needed to aid in the war effort for World War II.

Shortly after though the Mint jumped back to copper and the wheat penny continued on to be a copper coin until its discontinuance in 1958.

The wheat penny saw us through a lot. Two World Wars, the Roaring Twenties, a Great Depression, and the first half of the 1950s. The coin itself is a piece of American history. Many specialize in this coin and tend to only search for this one. All in all, collectors of all interests tend to recommend buying it, as the wheat penny is a staple of coin collecting and a great foundation for any collection.

Steel Cents

Photo by Dave's Coins

BU Wheat Cent from Final Year of Production

Photo by Dave's Coins

Key Dates

Following are the key dates for the series.

  • 1909-S VDB
  • 1909-S S Over Horizontal S.
  • 1917 Doubled Die.
  • 1922 No D.
  • 1943 Bronze.
  • 1944 Steel.
  • 1955 Doubled Die.
  • 1944-D D Over S

Do you have a full collection of the Lincoln Wheat Cent?


US Dept. Of Treasury – History Of The Lincoln Cent

The Spruce Crafts – Lincoln Wheat Penny Key Dates, Rarities and Varieties

Other Interesting Articles from Our Archives

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