Wheat pennies were the first version of the Lincoln penny, minted from 1909 to 1958. Because they are no longer being produced, they have value to collectors, which is determined by the supply in circulation, year minted and whether or not any errors exist.
Wheat pennies are pennies made between 1909 and 1958 with two ears of wheat on the back, replacing the Indian Head cent coin. The most valuable circulated coins were minted in 1909 and have the initials VDB on the back.
The value of anything is a relationship between supply and demand. If the supply is high and the demand is low, the object is low in value. If the supply is low and the demand is high, the product has a high value.
The lowest quantity of wheat pennies made was in 1909, at the San Francisco Mint, where only 484,000 were minted because the dies needed to create the coin had to ship from Pennsylvania.
Wheat pennies were made of 95 percent copper and 5 percent tin or zinc from 1909 to 1942 and 1944 to 1958. Today, pennies are made of 97.5 percent zinc and are copper-plated. During 1943, the coins were made from steel and zinc due to a copper shortage because of World War II.
Errors make coins valuable, and the rarer the error, the greater the value. In 1922, the Denver mint stamp did not show up on those pennies, and those that are still uncirculated are some of the most valuable. Another error was the double minting, which occurred in 1955, producing only 20,000 copies.