I am often asked what coins should the common collector own. If you are like me, and most coin collectors, I cannot plunk down 7 figures for a coin. Heck, I cannot afford 4 figures for a coin.
Yet most of us have a desire to see our collection grow in value. While I get enjoyment in owning thousands of common wheat cents, Indian Head Cents, Walking Liberty Halves, etc. The harsh reality is that many of these coins will not appreciate in value at a significant rate, if at all.
So, what is a regular collector to do? First, I collect for the enjoyment of the hobby. While I will attempt to identify coins that most of us can afford that will likely increase in value, it should be noted, past history of coin price movements is NOT an indicator of future performance. Ideas put forth in this article are not a recommendation to buy or sell and you should conduct your own research.
With that disclaimer out of the way, what coins do I believe are poised to increase in value? In this article we will concentrate on the 1909 VDB cent. It was nearly 100 years ago that the now much maligned Lincoln Cent began its remarkable 100 year journey. The Lincoln cent has endured longer than any other coin. Incredibly, over 400 billion of them have been produced. That is well over 1000 pennies for each man, women and child in the US. It is the coin that most collectors are familiar with and that most collectors began their collections with.
While most of us will not be able to afford a 1909 S VDB, the 1909 S is within reach for many of us, but at $100 or more for a low grade 1909 S, it is still a chunk of change. The 1909 VDB is often overlooked in the series. Mostly because there were nearly 28 million made, there is ample supply for the collecting public, or is there?
Over the last few months, retail prices for common grade 1909 VDB Lincoln Cents, has been going up. In the December, 2006 issue of COINS magazine, a 1909 VDB in XF-40 condition had a reported value of $8.50. In the August, 2007 issue of COINS magazine, the same coin had a price of $11.00. In the latest issue, October, 2007, the value is now $14.00.
I believe there are two reasons for this. First, there are more and more Lincoln Cent collectors that are buying up the earlier dates. The second reason is that speculators are speculating that in 2009, when the US Mint will celebrate 100 years of the Lincoln Cent, demand for any 1909 Lincoln Penny will skyrocket. As you may know, in 2009, the Lincoln Cent is due for a major overall (LINK to changes). As dealers attempt to put together 100 year sets (1909 VDB and 2009 VDB), demand for the 1909 VDB cents, in any grade may push prices much higher.
With the retail price of a XF-40 1909 VDB now $14.00, this is a coin you probably can afford. If your budget is larger, you can look at higher grade coins such as BU RED coins. I will emphasize RED coins here as red/brown or just brown BU coins will likely not be as highly desired. The reason I think the RED ones will be hard to come by and increase in value is the same as stated before. Dealers will want to pair up a 1909 RED coin with a 2009 RED coin. A 2009 RED with a 2009 brown just will not cut it. Many dealers are offering RAW 1909 VDB RED coins at well below $100. Be sure to check with the dealer though as you do not want a scratched up coin.
If you want to avoid this problem, you can always go after the certified version of the 1909 VDB. Certified 1909 VDB coins are available in many grades. Like the raw coins, I believe the value of these will go up as well. If you want to stay in the “regular collector” space though, you can consider buying rolls of 1909 VDB cents. Be prepared to pay several hundred dollars for a roll of these coins. It will cost much more for a higher grade roll.
The year 2009 will be an exciting year for the Lincoln Cent. The lingering question is, will this be the last year of the Lincoln Cent, or event the last year of the cent all together? That remains to be seen.
Keith Scott has been a collector for over 30 years. His website has US coins for sale. He also writes Coin Collecting Articles for fun. Visit his websites for a history of US coins, metal market updates and news about your favorite coins.