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1909 s vdb vs. 1990 no s proof Lincolns

I’m trying to decide which one I should pick up first. What are some comparing and contrasting factors between the two? For some who have been doing this a very long time which of the two have you seen perform better over time? Let’s say a ms64 RB 1909 s vdb and a PR 68 1990 no s

The 1999 no s seems to have stayed at a bargain for the rarity. The 1909 s vdb seems to always perform well and even gone up in value in the last year

If any members here had to choose between the two which would you choose? If you have any particular opinions, facts or stories please share

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    gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The 1909 SVDB only becomes scarce once you get above MS65. Otherwise plentiful.
    The 1990 no S i consider the better value for the money. There's probably less than a few hundred in existence.

    I vote 1990 no S

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    gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It would go nicely with my 1982 no P dimes.

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    CameonutCameonut Posts: 7,258 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've owned a 1990 no S for almost 10 years. Never regretted buying it. PCGS + NGC population is well under 400 pieces total.

    In the meantime, I have been looking for a 09s VDB, but never found one I loved for a reasonable price. I am still looking.

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    hbarbeehbarbee Posts: 169 ✭✭✭

    This is an excellent example of how values are sometimes driven by popularity rather than quality or rarity, especially in a series such as the Lincoln Cents. My PCGS 1990 No S in PR69RD DCAM is valued by PCGS at $5,750 with 71 graded at that level and none higher. My 1909-S VDB is only MS64RB but for value comparison, if it were MS65RB it would be valued by PCGS at $5,150 with 1,051 graded at that level and 1,393 higher.

    I would go with the 1990 all day long simply because in the future when collectors want to put together a complete collection (especially if the mint ceases production of cents) it will be much harder to find at any level.

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    WaterSportWaterSport Posts: 6,709 ✭✭✭✭✭

    While both coins have an interesting story about them, the 1909 S VDB - IMHO - is over valued by a heck of a lot. It's one of the first coins you trip over walking into any coin show or shop. There were significantly fewer number of 1990 No S cents made. It's the 1990 No S hands down.

    WS

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    FrazFraz Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Scarcity turns me on, but I would be a mess having only three of the first year Lincoln cents.

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    JBKJBK Posts: 14,776 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Value is a function of supply and demand. Therein lies the reason for the pricing.

    As has been mentioned, the 09SVDB is regular issue, the S-less proof is not.

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    coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been collecting Lincoln cents all my collecting life, the first certified coin I bought is the 09-SVDB in my collection which cost less than 1K in the late 90's. The guide shows a 64RB is now worth approx. 3k so a two hundred percent increase snice I bought it, not a bad value increase in my opinion. I do not own a 90 no S, and have no desire to own one, like WCC I see this as an error coin and thus of no interest to me personally at the prices the market gives it. I did not check the PCGS registry, but my IS album (which is a few years old) has no slot for the 90 no S and while the NGC registry does have a slot for this coin it is for display only no points are awarded.

    In my opinion the SVDB will always have strong demand from a wide base of collectors the 90 no S is a specialty coin with a much thinner market. Unless the 90 no S gets some type of significant promotion that brings it into the mainstream collectors view, I think it is more likely prices for it will be more stagnate over time vs the 09 SVDB. Just my opinion.

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    JBKJBK Posts: 14,776 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's existence is an error. ;)

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    oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,902 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 8:18AM

    According to PCGS, it's a MAJOR variety.

    I dont have many proof coins, but I would make room for this variety.

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    VeepVeep Posts: 1,403 ✭✭✭✭

    Ten years ago, or so, I paid a collector $5,000 each for five 1990 No "S" proof sets that he had gotten directly from the mint and sold them for $5,500 each. Today, a PF65 No "S" example has a Greysheet bid of $2,000.

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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,384 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @WCC said:
    The 1990 no S proof is an error. All errors by definition are rare or scarce, so there is nothing unusual about it. I consider most no S proofs common errors. It's not an equivalent comparison.

    Aside from the historical preference for the 09-S VDB, there is also a difference in demand from set collectors. I've never heard of any wheat cent set being "complete" without the 09-S VDB.

    Conversely, while I presume (not having checked) that registry sets include the No S, it's also far above the financial capacity of the majority of these collectors. There are far more affluent buyers of wheat cents versus proof memorial cents and also many more buyers of the 09-S VDB who don't collect either series. I'd guess the number who buy the No S proof but not the series is primarily those who generically buy No S proofs only or more expensive US moderns. It isn't that many.

    It is NOT an error. It is a variety. Errors are one offs.

    So, it was intentionally made this way? I have no idea but makes no sense to me.

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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,384 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @coinbuf said:

    In my opinion the SVDB will always have strong demand from a wide base of collectors the 90 no S is a specialty coin with a much thinner market. Unless the 90 no S gets some type of significant promotion that brings it into the mainstream collectors view, I think it is more likely prices for it will be more stagnate over time vs the 09 SVDB. Just my opinion.

    Promotion is unlikely to make a difference for any extended time frame. The 09-S VDB has a much longer history behind it in terms of collector perception. I've never heard of a coin in this price range promoted to those who don't already collect it, not with this coin's attributes. It's different for gold and maybe silver coinage.

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    gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Veep What are the chances that the proof coins in those sets would grade a lowly 65. Odds are they would be higher than that. Even still you flipped them and made a tidy profit.

    @WCC they weren't intentionally made. 1 die was produced that the mintmark was mistakenly not punched with a mintmark. It was discovered and some got destroyed by the mint.

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    ShaunBC5ShaunBC5 Posts: 1,633 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ve never spent that much on a coin but it’s not out of the realm of possibility in the future.
    I don’t know that I could spend that much on a cent for my collection and it not be an 09S-VDB or 55 DDO.
    If you’re planning on both, though, probably go with the more rare one, I guess, as the search may be tougher.

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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,219 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As much as I hunt thru Moderns for gems and picks of all stripes, I would rather buy the ‘09 and hunt for a “no S”

    Remember a dealer years ago offering a raw set for $6k.

    My first thought was… didn’t they make 1Biliion of the little monsters?

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    gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @yspsales If there were a billion you would have found thousands by now.

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    coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @gumby1234 said:
    @yspsales If there were a billion you would have found thousands by now.

    Not necessarily true, I would bet that if you asked a random sample of collectors at a local coin show less than half would even know about this coin, and less than 10 would be actively looking for one. While I think its unlikely that thousands more will be found there are thousands even tens of thousands of 90's proof sets that have never been searched for this coin sitting in collections in the wild.

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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,219 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 9:31AM

    @gumby1234 said:
    @yspsales If there were a billion you would have found thousands by now.

    I knew what he was offering and the rarity.

    How many of the 400 pop how many were cherry picked?
    How many were flipped for a quick profit?
    How many paid full retail?
    How many looking for one after 32 years ?

    Where is the retail collector demand coming from at this point?

    Early wheat cents have demand and liquidity.

    I am modern bull, but realistically the 90s seems like a value trap.

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    ChevyroseChevyrose Posts: 225 ✭✭✭


    Also worth noting it’s ten year price history. I’d say it will definitely increase in value the next few years

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,969 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @WCC said:
    The 1990 no S proof is an error. All errors by definition are rare or scarce, so there is nothing unusual about it. I consider most no S proofs common errors. It's not an equivalent comparison.

    Aside from the historical preference for the 09-S VDB, there is also a difference in demand from set collectors. I've never heard of any wheat cent set being "complete" without the 09-S VDB.

    Conversely, while I presume (not having checked) that registry sets include the No S, it's also far above the financial capacity of the majority of these collectors. There are far more affluent buyers of wheat cents versus proof memorial cents and also many more buyers of the 09-S VDB who don't collect either series. I'd guess the number who buy the No S proof but not the series is primarily those who generically buy No S proofs only or more expensive US moderns. It isn't that many.

    It is NOT an error. It is a variety. Errors are one offs.

    So, it was intentionally made this way? I have no idea but makes no sense to me.

    An "error" is a coin with a defect that occurred in the minting process. A variety is a coin made from a die with difficulty features.

    Yes, it was a mistake at the mint to use a die with no mintmark. But they struck hundreds from that die variety. It was not a minting error

    55 DDO - variety
    3- legged Buffalo - variety
    Brockage-error
    Off center strike -error

    Typically, errors are one offs. Varieties come in multiples, sometimes many thousands of multiples, because it is a die feature.

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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,219 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 9:48AM

    I am all in for the WAM and CAM as well.

    $5k can buy a plethora of cool Memorial Lincoln cent varieties minted after 1959.

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    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:

    An "error" is a coin with a defect that occurred in the minting process. A variety is a coin made from a die with difficulty features.

    Yes, it was a mistake at the mint to use a die with no mintmark. But they struck hundreds from that die variety. It was not a minting error

    55 DDO - variety
    3- legged Buffalo - variety
    Brockage-error
    Off center strike -error

    Typically, errors are one offs. Varieties come in multiples, sometimes many thousands of multiples, because it is a die feature.

    I'm not sure where your definitions came from, but a quick Google search for "difference between error and variety" results in several different definitions and acknowledgements that they tend to vary between specialists.

    I am not a specialist, but I do have an opinion: A variety is a deliberate change to the design by the mint. Everything else is an error. I consider the 55 DDO an error and the 3-Legged Buffalo an error. I actually consider the 09-S VDB a variety.

    My point is that whether or not the 1990 no s proof Lincoln is an error or a variety is infinitely debatable but seems irrelevant to helping the OP decide which to buy first.

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    CoinHoarderCoinHoarder Posts: 2,469 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 10:21AM

    I would choose the 1909 S VDB. I have had mine for over 30 years.

    I do not trust Zincolns for long term. I would be concerned with possible future corrosion with the 1990 no S.

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    ShamikaShamika Posts: 18,760 ✭✭✭✭

    S-VDB all the way.

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    ChrisH821ChrisH821 Posts: 6,338 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would probably go for the no S proof due to the tiny number available, 09-S VDBs are not rare. But that's just me, your collecting views might be different than mine.

    Collector, occasional seller

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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,384 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    @jmlanzaf said:

    An "error" is a coin with a defect that occurred in the minting process. A variety is a coin made from a die with difficulty features.

    Yes, it was a mistake at the mint to use a die with no mintmark. But they struck hundreds from that die variety. It was not a minting error

    55 DDO - variety
    3- legged Buffalo - variety
    Brockage-error
    Off center strike -error

    Typically, errors are one offs. Varieties come in multiples, sometimes many thousands of multiples, because it is a die feature.

    I'm not sure where your definitions came from, but a quick Google search for "difference between error and variety" results in several different definitions and acknowledgements that they tend to vary between specialists.

    I am not a specialist, but I do have an opinion: A variety is a deliberate change to the design by the mint. Everything else is an error. I consider the 55 DDO an error and the 3-Legged Buffalo an error. I actually consider the 09-S VDB a variety.

    My point is that whether or not the 1990 no s proof Lincoln is an error or a variety is infinitely debatable but seems irrelevant to helping the OP decide which to buy first.

    I get that the MM was left off the die which is why I presume the prior post stated it is a variety.

    But regardless of which one it is, if the future price performance is the primary consideration, the NO S proof is a relatively obscure coin. There aren't very many "big budget" collectors of Lincoln Memorial cents because the series has a relatively low preference at this price point. There are far more interesting coins to most collectors for the same money.

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    291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,944 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Demand vs. rarity. Demand wins and so does the 1909-S VDB. The 1990 No "S" has had thirty two years to catch fire and has not done so.

    All glory is fleeting.
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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,969 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    @jmlanzaf said:

    An "error" is a coin with a defect that occurred in the minting process. A variety is a coin made from a die with difficulty features.

    Yes, it was a mistake at the mint to use a die with no mintmark. But they struck hundreds from that die variety. It was not a minting error

    55 DDO - variety
    3- legged Buffalo - variety
    Brockage-error
    Off center strike -error

    Typically, errors are one offs. Varieties come in multiples, sometimes many thousands of multiples, because it is a die feature.

    I'm not sure where your definitions came from, but a quick Google search for "difference between error and variety" results in several different definitions and acknowledgements that they tend to vary between specialists.

    I am not a specialist, but I do have an opinion: A variety is a deliberate change to the design by the mint. Everything else is an error. I consider the 55 DDO an error and the 3-Legged Buffalo an error. I actually consider the 09-S VDB a variety.

    My point is that whether or not the 1990 no s proof Lincoln is an error or a variety is infinitely debatable but seems irrelevant to helping the OP decide which to buy first.

    You would be one of the few.

    VAMs are errors? Overton errors? Very few varieties are deliberate design changes. Deliberate changes get labeled as "types".

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    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,219 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 12:49PM

    @ChrisH821 @291fifth

    In this bull market it has lost almost half it's value in a decade.

    I just don't see it...

    200 slabbed at $3000

    I draw circles for collectors.

    Ask where the demand intersects.

    Modern Collector... (probably most interest)
    Ahead of more affordable and similarly pop mint error... Wide/Close AM?
    My 1998 proof Close AM was a cool find.
    So were the wide AM's found.

    Type Collector...

    Variety Collector... just scratching the surface with alot of cool and dramatic choices...
    Put this ahead of a 1955ddo MS63BN?
    Put this ahead of a 1972ddo MS67RD?
    Put this ahead of a 1983ddr MS67+RD?

    Set Collector?

    Investor/Key Date Collector?
    Put this ahead of the 1909 s VDB?

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    TurtleCatTurtleCat Posts: 4,594 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Between the two I would probably go for a 1990 no S. I haven’t seen many for sale but I see plenty of 1909S VDBs for sale.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,969 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @yspsales said:
    @ChrisH821 @291fifth

    In this bull market it has lost almost half it's value in a decade.

    I just don't see it...

    200 slabbed at $3000

    I draw circles for collectors.

    Ask where the demand intersects.

    Modern Collector... (probably most interest)
    Ahead of more affordable and similarly pop mint error... Wide/Close AM?
    My 1998 proof Close AM was a cool find.
    So were the wide AM's found.

    Type Collector...

    Variety Collector... just scratching the surface with alot of cool and dramatic choices...
    Put this ahead of a 1955ddo MS63BN?
    Put this ahead of a 1972ddo MS67RD?
    Put this ahead of a 1983ddr MS67+RD?

    Set Collector?

    Investor/Key Date Collector?
    Put this ahead of the 1909 s VDB?

    The problem is that proofs fall into a separate category. A business strike would be in every date set. But people don't always include proofs in their date sets.

    The price is the other issue, 80% or so of Lincoln sets don't even have the SVDB because of price. So collectors are going to look for any reason to exclude a mid 4 figure coin.

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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,384 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 1:52PM

    @yspsales said:

    200 slabbed at $3000

    Not even close to rare for a die variety. Assuming this is an accurate number (332 grading events at NGC and PCGS), it's a low R-4/high R-3 on the Judd scale. This might be rare for a US modern die variety but not generically.

    @yspsales said:

    Ask where the demand intersects.

    Modern Collector... (probably most interest)
    Ahead of more affordable and similarly pop mint error... Wide/Close AM?
    My 1998 proof Close AM was a cool find.
    So were the wide AM's found.

    Number of "big budget" modern collectors is low or very low, depending on definition of "big budget"

    You're also comparing it to equally obscure coins, none of which are required for a "complete" date/MM set either which is the majority of demand.

    @yspsales said:

    Type Collector...

    Virtually zero likely demand from type collectors.

    It's too expensive for its actual collectible attributes to be of interest to type collectors. Compare it to what else the same money can buy in other US coinage, and this will be obvious. If a PR-68 costs $5700, someone can buy a very nice AU draped bust half for the same or less and spend $2 for another one.

    @yspsales said:

    Variety Collector... just scratching the surface with alot of cool and dramatic choices...
    Put this ahead of a 1955ddo MS63BN?
    Put this ahead of a 1972ddo MS67RD?
    Put this ahead of a 1983ddr MS67+RD?

    Yes, except that I'd guess somewhere in the vicinity of 99%+ would prefer the 55DDO for the same reason they prefer the 09-S VDB.

    @yspsales said:

    Set Collector?

    How many Lincoln Memorial cent major die variety set collectors do you think will spend over $5K on a single coin?

    I'm guessing it's a lot less than 200, a low fraction of it.

    @yspsales said:

    Investor/Key Date Collector?

    I don't see it as a good candidate "investor" coin, though concurrently you may be correct that a noticeable proportion of the demand might come from speculator buyers.

    In my analysis of the Heritage archives earlier this year, LM cent proofs priced between $5K and $10K rank 92nd out of 108 series with 218 (not 19) sales. There are limitations to this data where its presumably not fully representative, but it's not that far off.

    Does that sound like an investment coin to you? Coins aren't like stocks where something "out of favor" changes relative perception so radically, not after it's been available this long.

    I also don't see it as a real key date, not like the 09-S VDB and 55DDO which are usually included in "complete" sets, and it doesn't have the equivalent perception among those who don't collect the series either.

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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If both coins were removed as a requirement for registry sets, which coin would better hold its value?

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,969 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:
    If both coins were removed as a requirement for registry sets, which coin would better hold its value?

    SVDB because it was the empty hole in your coin folder as a child. Probably. My crystal ball is broken.

    I'm still waiting for everyone to stop collecting by date and mint mark and become type collectors. Then both these coins are going down.

    Which will do better over the next 10 years: SVDB, 1990 no S, s&P 500 fund, blue chip bond fund? Do i care who is in 3rd and 4th place?

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    raysrays Posts: 2,329 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ChrisH821 said:
    I would probably go for the no S proof due to the tiny number available, 09-S VDBs are not rare. But that's just me, your collecting views might be different than mine.

    You are correct, the 1909-S VDB cent is not rare. It is highly desirable, much more so than any no-S proof.

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    hfjacintohfjacinto Posts: 766 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I wouldn’t even give the 1990 no S a second look. Get the 1909 S VDB in 100 years people will still collect the 1909 S VDB, the 1990 will wither always as it’s not even copper. You will have a zinc zit coin that is worthless.

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    cladkingcladking Posts: 28,348 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Or you could save a lot of money and try to find a 1984 cent with nice flat surfaces and no carbon spots in MS-65. It's probably far scarcer than even the 1990.

    Rolls and mint sets are pretty cheap so have at it. It probably won't cost more than about a dime if you find it right away.

    Tempus fugit.
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    124Spider124Spider Posts: 848 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Rarity, without demand, is not worth much, IMO. There will always, ALWAYS, be a very high demand for the 1909-S VDB; the 1990 no-S proof will never be well know, so will never have a high demand.

    If "investment" enters into the calculation, I'd go with the best-known coin in the United States.

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    cladkingcladking Posts: 28,348 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2022 6:44PM

    @WCC said:
    The 1990 no S proof is an error. All errors by definition are rare or scarce, so there is nothing unusual about it. I consider most no S proofs common errors. It's not an equivalent comparison.

    Yeah, and the 1943 copper pennies were "just errors", too, as was the '37-D three legged buffalo. indeed, the 1913 liberty nickels and most of the 1804 dollars weren't even "errors" at all and were made illegally and stolen from the mint. Some of rarities were never intended to be released by the mint at all.

    Of course your point is well taken that not everyone is going to include the '90 no-S cent in their collection but that works out just fine since there are so few of them. But then by the same token even though there are far more '09-S VDB's not everyone will include these because they are so expensive.

    I always knew there were a lot of Gem '09-S VDB's because people used to show them to me. One dealer had a nice fresh roll back in the '70's and several appeared to be solid Gem. I did not realize how many had been graded in the last couple decades.

    I can look at hundreds of 1984 mint sets and not see a nice solid Gem or check rolls until my eyes grow weak and see spots and tarnish. Making coins that rot in your hands might be the biggest error of all.

    Tempus fugit.
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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cladking said:
    Making coins that rot in your hands might be the biggest error of all.

    I don't know- buying them and hoping they won't rot ranks right up there. ;)

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    cladkingcladking Posts: 28,348 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CoinHoarder said:
    I would choose the 1909 S VDB. I have had mine for over 30 years.

    I do not trust Zincolns for long term. I would be concerned with possible future corrosion with the 1990 no S.

    Indeed!

    Even slabbed coins might not be safe under extreme conditions.

    I look for zincolns that have their sheathing intact and hope for the best. Of course this can be painful for some dates like hammered 1989-D's that were so sharply struck the cladding is sheared off the lettering on the reverse in most cases. These coins are just garbage and they have gotten much worse over the years. Sure they are better plated now days but they come out of the mint with ugly spotting now.

    Tempus fugit.
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    cladkingcladking Posts: 28,348 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:

    I don't know- buying them and hoping they won't rot ranks right up there. ;)

    Well... ...I might be hesitant to pay a lot for one.

    Maybe it's safe to buy the ones that have stood the test of time (~25 years) if you store it well. Zincolns stand up pretty well under good conditions.

    Just beware of breaks in the sheathing and bubbles.

    Attrition rates are simply staggering and increasing. The cents in circulation are almost all uncollectible due to spotting and damage. Early zincolns are disappearing about as fast as copper.

    It's good to have some tolerance to pain if you like modern cents.

    Tempus fugit.

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