What makes a popular coin series? What makes it interesting to collectors? The answer to those questions is in three parts. First, the series must teach you something whether it is about history or coins in general. Next,the series has to be possible to complete. For example, if every coin in the set is extremely expensive, it would not be in the price range of most collectors. Finally, the set needs to appeal to a wide range of numismatist. A series will never become wildly popular if nobody cares about it. Fortunately, there is are coins that meet all three of these requirements, the Lincoln cent.
Designed in 1909 by Victor David Brenner, Lincoln cents have been a workhorse in the American economy for over 100 years. In almost every cash transaction the penny is used. Because of its prominence in everyday life, collectors have gotten very interested in this issue. In fact, it is one of the most popular coin series of all time. For many numismatists, this series was where they started. The wide variety of numismatic material this set teaches makes it perfect for beginners. Within the set, there are several varieties that teach about the minting process. A YN can also learn about the different mints and how economic demand dictates how many coins are made. There is history in this set too. For example, the 1943 cents were made in zinc plated steel due to the demand for copper in the war effort. There is also numismatic history like the cents from 1965 to 1968 that were made without mintmarks to punish the numismatic community. While Lincoln cents are great for YN’s they can also be satisfying for more experienced collectors.
Lincoln cent are able to be interesting for the experienced collector as well as a younger one. The series has many tougher issues that can keep a collector pleased. There are several key dates and varieties that are challenging yet attainable. The matte proofs of the early years also provide a fun set to complete, although more expensive. Registry sets can also provide a competitive collecting experience for the numismatist with the larger pocketbook.
This series can also be good for the collector on a budget. There are just a few key and semi-key dates throughout the set, most being somewhat affordable in lower grades. Most examples in the series range in price from $15-$30 in AU not counting some of the earlier dates. This series provides an excellent opportunity for short sets too. One could put together a set of cents with the memorial reverse (which is possible to complete from circulation, it just takes some patience) or a set with examples from World War Two.
In conclusion, Lincoln cents make an exciting collection that has satisfied numismatists for over 100 years. Start your set today and be part of making this set just as popular for another hundred years.