The United State Mint issued wheat pennies during the first half of the 20th century. These pennies have risen in value over the years, with most reaching 10 times the face value. Rare versions of these coins are highly sought by collectors.
The U.S. Mint first issued the wheat penny in 1909 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's 100th birthday. The design was popular with the American public and continued to be issued.
The wheat penny was issued from 1909 to 1958. In 1959, the Mint switched the reverse side to the image of the Lincoln Memorial building.
Wheat pennies can be classified by the year, composition and Mint mark. Higher-value types include copper pennies made during 1943 and steel pennies struck with the 1944 issue date.
Many collectors seek the 1909 wheat penny with the designer's initials V.D.B. as a rare coin. The only rare version of this coin is the 1909 wheat penny from the San Francisco Mint with the designer's initials on the reverse side. V.D.B. pennies from the San Francisco Mint are worth up to $500 for very fine condition as of August 2009, while 1909 pennies from another Mint average about $4 for the same grade.
The value of wheat pennies varies depending on the year issued and what Mint it came from. The lowest value wheat penny are those that were issued from 1944 to 1949 with the exception of the 1944 D/S penny. These are worth about 10 cents. The highest value wheat penny is the 1922 issue, worth more than $550 in very fine condition.