Most collectors have heard the story of how the first Lincoln cents with the V.D.B. initials were rejected by the public. From the viewpoint of 109 years on, it seems hard to imagine that ‘the public’ would consider a protest about a designer’s initials worthwhile investment of time. But this is now…that was then. It was a different time when ideals about what was proper were far different than today. But….if you don’t know the story, here’s a quick review:
Beginning around 1905 - 1906, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt started recruiting designers and sculptors to redesign America’s coinage.
His first targets were the ‘Liberty Head’ gold coins in production since 1839. Next on the ‘hit list’ was the penny. the Indian Head penny designed by James B. Longacre had been in production since 1859. People liked it! So…when Brenner’s new Lincoln Cent came out in 1909, everyone looked for a reason to hate it! The designer’s initials, ‘V.D.B.’ became the focal point of the protest. So..after only 484,000 1909-S pennies with the V.D.B. initials were struck, they were gone. The reverse dies were replaced with no initials on them and production resumed. However, only 1,825,000 coins were produced and it’s a key to the set today.