Wheat Pennies

Are Wheat Pennies Still Valued?

Wheat PenniesMany of us are fascinated with collecting things. They could be papers, books, clothes, stamps, currency, electronics, anything. While some love to collect the latest and be in touch with the times, others tend to collect things from times gone long by, to savour the mystique and charm of being in touch with the past.

And numismatics or the collection of coins, also falls in this area. Collecting coins is not just a fascinating study of coins but also a study and exploration of history, events, places and things which have been of great importance in the development of a country. It indicates the progress in various fields such as technology, industry, manufacturing, metallurgy and hence coins are an excellent way of making sense of the past.

Unlike other countries, the history of the U.S., as we know it today as a federal collection of 50 states, dates from 1774 with the formation of teh United States. Before independence from Britain, the british currency was in vogue, Following attainment of independence the first coinage Act (to lead to the production of indigenous coins) was passed in 1792 by the American Congress. The United States Mint came into being with the official responsibility for the manufacturing and distribution of US coins and currency for trading and purchasing purposes and the two great heroes of US history Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The name for the US Dollar, the dollar comes from the name of a Dutch coin leuvendaller which was brought by Dutch settlers and is considered as a currency from medieval times. Initially the first US Dollar was used alongside other foreign currencies to manage the shortfall of metals for coins. There are four kinds of coins in the US mint system: Dollar, half Dollar, penny and quarter.

Since 1794, the US coins have been produced continuously with the exceptions of some periods and have undergone various evolutions. Most US coins show the face of various past presidents on one side and historical buildings and other important features on the other. The coins show a mint mark indicating the mint which produced them for e.g. P for Philadelphia. Each coin has the word liberty. Coins from 1984 would have the motto ingod we trust displayed. Many special coins have been introduced over the years. One was the Sacagawea coin introduced in honour of a native woman. Coins which were usually made of silver in the past, made be made of alloys of other metals which are lesser expensive such as nickel , manganese and copper. There were other special coins such as the Eisenhower coin and the Susan B Anthony coin. The current dollar series features past American presidents in order in history as well asthe Sacagawea coin.

And So Came Wheat Pennies Into Existence

Wheat PenniesAmongst these varied coins, one set of coins stand out, owing to the peculiarity of their names, which are Wheat Pennies. Their very name would make people doubt whether they are a new kind of wheat crop or pennies made out of wheat?

Well, if you have thought so, you are wrong. Wheat pennies, wheat backs, wheaties or Lincoln wheat pennies as they are known as, are actually coins.

Produced between 1909 and 1958, wheat pennies are classic American one cent coins. Officially they are cents but common usage has rendered the name pennies popular. The name comes from the engraving of sheaves of wheat on the back of this coin series. Before these coins were minted, pennies had oak or laurel wreaths on their back and subsequent to 1959, the wheat engravings were replaced with Lincoln Memorial. The wheat pennies or coins are distinguished by the following details:

–       The motto In God we trust and Abraham Lincoln’s sideways profile on the front, with Liberty and the year of minting

–       On the back, the latin version of the saying “E Pluribus Unum” on the top, with the words one cent and United States of America” surrounded by the sheaves of wheat on the right and left.

Why are Wheat Pennies valuable?

The coins were usually made from copper but some were from steel. While many of the coins are still available, some of the minted series have become valuable to collectors. Reasons range from rarity to only a few of a specific type being made that year. For instance the 1943 series is very valuable as during that series, 10 copper alloy coins were minted by accident, when the rest of the series had been made from zinc coated steel. Copper was in short supply and hence was being conserved. Other valuable coins of this class including some minted in the year 1909 with a stamp of VDB, which was the initials of the engraver Victor David Brenners, who was the creator of the Pennies. Some more valuable coins were the double stamped coins in 1955 which came about as a result of an error.

What is the Value of Wheat Pennies Now?

Lincoln wheat pennies were produced at three places: Philadelphia, denver and san Francisco. Based on whether they are circulated or uncirculated they will cost more. They are valued much more than their face value of 1c. In fact each of these coins can go up to 3-4 cents per coin, if they are in poor condition. If they are in good condition they can go up to 10 dollars if they are in MS-63 condition. In fact the very rare 1909 S VDB coin can go upto 2000 dollars for uncirculated version and nearly $900 for circulated ones while a 1914 Denver minted one can go up to nearly $3000 for uncirculated ones.

So as you can see , there is plenty of money in these wheat pennies. Keep hunting for them and you never know when you will end up with a bucketful of dollars and pennies.

Image Source:

Wikimedia Commons













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