Specific coins become rare simply because there are so few of them in existence. Some US cent coins are rare due to varying output levels in different years. Coin collectors can gather together their older Lincoln cents and sort through them to determine if any penny is of exceptional value due to having a 1909 or 1943 date.

The Lincoln cent has been in production since 1909. Although the front side of the penny has not changed much since then, the reverse side was redesigned in 1959. Before 1959, the reverse side design contained two wheat stalks along the edges of the coin. The pennies minted with the wheat design are now collectively referred to as wheat pennies.

To start your search, sort through all the US cents in your collection and set aside the wheat pennies. Some collections include a large number of wheat pennies, so separating them from the remainder of your coins makes them easier to inspect. As the front of each wheat penny is examined, look for a date of either 1909 or 1943.

1909 VDB penny

The designer of the new Lincoln penny introduced in 1909 included his three initials at the bottom of the reverse side of the coin. The three letters VDB are the initials of Victor David Brenner. Soon after the start of production, the initials were removed from the design. Because of the relatively small output, the 1909 VDB penny is one of the rarest Lincoln pennies.

1943 copper cent

At the height of World War II, military demand led to market shortages of copper. Most 1943 pennies were minted out of carbon steel with a zinc coating. Although relatively common, the steel pennies are an interesting part of any coin collection. However, a small number of copper pennies were accidentally minted with the 1943 date.

The appearance of a 1943 steel cent is very different from that of a copper penny. The steel cent is grey in color. If you find a 1943 penny, a magnet may be used to test its content. A steel penny is attracted to a magnet, while a copper cent is not. A 1943 copper cent is extremely valuable.

The 1909 VDB penny and the 1943 copper cent are just two examples of many relatively rare coins. Some rare coins have no story behind them like these pennies do except that they were part of a small production run. Contact a coin dealer for assistance in appraising the unique value of each coin in your collection.