Courtesy of Robert Shanks

The 1909 S wheat penny’s design has the words “one cent” and “United States of America” in the middle of the coin, flanked by stalks of wheat. After 1958, the wheat design was replaced by the Lincoln Memorial. The letter S under the year on the front of the coin indicates that it was minted in San Francisco.

No 1909 S Lincoln pennies brought to coin show; $80 reward still stands

Published: Saturday, May. 3, 2014 - 10:24 pm

Don’t discard your pennies just yet – there’s gold in some of them-there cents.

Four 1909 S Lincoln wheat pennies worth $80 apiece are still on the loose in Sacramento after the Sacramento Valley Coin Club released them into circulation last week. The idea was to drum up interest in the 57th annual Sacramento Coin Show, which took place Friday and Saturday at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in North Natomas.

About 700 would-be collectors came to the show, including 23 children who each left with the venerated blue Whitman folders stuffed with wheat pennies supplied by a collector who donated hundreds of the mostly copper coins to the show, said Robert Shanks, coin show chairman.

“The kids were jazzed, you could see it in their eyes – it’s something that can be a fun, wholesome hobby,” Shanks said. “Some left with folders that were 80 percent complete.”

But the four relatively rare 1909 S pennies – minted in San Francisco as noted by the little S directly under the date – are still out there, and will still fetch $80 apiece if you bring them to the May 14 meeting of the Sacramento Coin Club at 5026 Don Julio Blvd. in North Highlands, scheduled from 7 to 9:15 p.m., Shanks said.

“One was dropped in a tip jar at a Starbucks in south Sacramento, another at a pizza place in Rancho Cordova, the third at the Costco in Roseville and the fourth I used to buy a 79-cent doughnut in south Sacramento, along with two quarters, a dime and handful of pennies, including nine other wheat pennies,” Shanks recalled.

The young woman behind the counter said they could always use pennies, but didn’t blink at the wheat pennies that rarely find their way into circulation these days, Shanks said. Some of the other pennies minted between 1910 and 1919 with mint marks are worth between $5 and $35.

Most people are oblivious to the old wheat pennies, since their Lincoln faces are the same as other pennies, Shanks said. And the 1909 cents from the Philadelphia mint that don’t carry an S mint mark aren’t worth much, either.

But the 1909 S pennies are hard to find, and if you find a 1909 S cent with the initials “VDB” carved into them by the coin’s designer, Victor D. Brenner, you could get about $400 for it, Shanks said.

The $80 1909 S pennies could have found their way into piggy banks or desk drawers, or might still be in circulation, Shanks said, so check your cents.

For more information, go to

Call The Bee’s Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.

Read more articles by Stephen Magagnini

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