Image Courtesy of BluCC Photos.
On March 04, 2010 the highest-graded 1909 V.D.B. Matte Proof Lincoln cent sold for over $200,000. This is to date the highest price ever paid for a regular-issue business strike or proof small cent, including Flying Eagle, Indian Head and Lincoln cents. In addition to its numerical grade, this Red Brown example displays extremely attractive toning. The record price for any Lincoln cent was set in 2008 when a 1944-S Lincoln cent error coin struck in steel instead of copper was purchased by Laura Sperber from Legend Numismatics.
The beautiful 1909 V.D.B PCGS PR67+ RB Matte Proof now resides in the McCullagh Collection. This coin can be viewed along with other Matte Proofs on the PCGS Set Registry:
Brian Wagner, proprietor of Brian Wagner Rare Coins, represented the owner of the McCullagh Collection while Laura Sperber represented the seller.
Since March 04, 2010, this 1909 V.D.B. Proof had been in a PCGS PR67 RB holder. However, at the recent PCGS Members Only Coin Show in Las Vegas, the coin was resubmitted to PCGS through the PCGS Secure Plus Service. The coin was then assigned a new grade of PCGS PR67+RB. Therefore, this coin has the highest numerical grade assigned to any 1909 V.D.B. Proof Lincoln cent ever graded by PCGS, regardless of color designation.
Currently there are two other 1909 V.D.B. Proof Lincoln cents graded PCGS PR67 Red without the Plus Grade, one owned by Stewart Blay and the second by the Thomas Irwin Collection, but neither of these two coins has yet been submitted through the PCGS Secure Plus Service.
The PCGS PR67+RB 1909 V.D.B Proof Lincoln cent is a significant coin as it is believed to have been owned by John Story Jenks. Jenks was a coin collector from 1850 (when he was 11 years old) through 1919. He collected coins passionately for 69 years. He met Henry Chapman around 1875 and bought exclusively from him thereafter. Henry Chapman was a major coin dealer in Philadelphia who bought many significant collections.
Jenks coin collection was sold in 1921, and at the time it was the largest coin auction in numismatic history. In that auction, two separate 1909 V.D.B. Matte Proof Lincoln cents sold. One of the coins originated from a minor proof set and the second from a silver proof set. After the auction, both 1909 V.D.B. Matte Proof Lincoln cents would then be untraced for 71 years, until the early 1990s, when Eric Steiner acquired the silver proof set through a private treaty Stack's sale and resold this example to Michael Ruben, a noted coin dealer from Maryland.
Sometime in 1993 or 1994, Ruben sold the coin to Evan Gale of Aspen Park Rare coins for under $10,000. In 1999, Gale sold it to a collector represented by Laura Sperber who paid $38,500 for the coin. Sperber's collector would hold on to the coin for 11 years and finally sold it to The McCullagh Collection for a record-breaking price for a regular-issue small cent as mentioned previously
The 1909 V.D.B. Proof has always been the KING of the Proof Lincoln cent series. Despite having a mintage of what is believed to be 1,194 examples (some estimates are as low as 420), far fewer coins remain extant. In fact, it is estimated that less than 150 examples survive in any condition. For a 1909 V.D.B. Proof to exist in PR67 grade or higher is practically unimaginable.