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Counterfeit vs. Authentic 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cents

The 1909-S VDB Lincoln has always been the key date coin in the entire Lincoln cent series, and it remains one of the most popular coins in numismatics.

Since the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent has always been highly desired among collectors, it is notorious for attracting counterfeiters. There are many fake 1909-S VDB Lincoln cents out there in the market and at PCGS, we have seen many different types of fakes.

When examining the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cents, some of the diagnostics PCGS graders look for are in the area of the "S" mint mark. First of all, the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cents were struck with four different obverse dies. The four known dies have four different mint mark positions and to the untrained eye, they can look very similar.

In the following images -

  • Mint Mark # 1 has the highest "S" mint mark out of all four mint marks. Notice that the top of the "S" is above both the legs of the 9 digits from the date.
  • Mint Mark # 2 has the top of the "S" mint mark flush to the bottom of the 9 digits on the date.
  • Mint Mark # 3 also has the top of the "S" mint mark flush with both the bottom of the 9 digits on the date. However, the left side of the "S" mint mark is not flush vertically with the right of the first 9 in the date. Instead, it is vertically aligned closer to the center of the space between the first 9 and the 0 in the date.
  • Mint Mark # 4 has the lowest mint mark position of all. The top of the "S" mint mark does not even come close to touching the bottom of the 9 digits.
  • Genuine Mint Marks will also display parallel serifs. If you look at mint mark below labeled "Parallel Mint Mark" the two serifs point in the same direction vertically, in a parallel position.
  • Genuine 1909-S VDB cents will have the VDB initials slightly slanted, specifically on the central crossbar of the letter "B."



These are just some of the diagnostics to use when examining 1909-S VDB Lincoln cents. If your coins look different, it is highly recommended that you send them to PCGS for authentication.

PCGS Library