We are told that the 1909 Lincoln cents with the initials VDB, on the reverse, were introduced on the 2nd of August 1909.
The Mint Directors Report for Fiscal Year 1909,( p. 45) for San Francisco, show that 1,424,000 cents were produced.
The fiscal year runs from July 1, 1908 till June 30, 1909.
Of the 1,424,000 cents produced in FY1909 1,115,000 were 1908-S Indian cents
( production began on November 27, 1908 ibid), and 309,000 were 1909-S Indian cents
. Meaning that NO VDB Cents were produced till July 1,1909; though the dies had been produced in May ( Q.David Bowers; A guide book of Lincoln Cents; Whitman
1st edition p. 28)
That may well be the real reason that the mintage of San Francisco 1909-S VDB cents was so small. With the San Francisco mint producing well over a million 1908-S Indian Head cents
in, not more than, 33 days, it seems reasonable to assume that the San Francisco Mint did not begin to coin 1909-S VDB cents till the second or third week of July. Just shy of the introduction date.
I have found nothing in my research that states why this happened, but I can I think make a reasonable hypothosis.
It has been stated that there was little demand for the Cent on the west coast, where it had not circulated prior to 1907; to any great degree.
There was a tax introduced in 1907 that introduced a demand on the west coast for the Cent. This demand may well have been met by the mintage of 1908 and 1909 minted Indian Head cents
. Noting that the 1909 mintage was the smallest San Francisco mintage in the history of that mint. That would suggest that the demand was take care of by the stock on hand, with no need to begin production of the new design. Especially as there were no dedicated presses for the minor coinage. That need being satisfied by presses used for Siver Coinage.
The other possible reason was that perhaps there was not enough, or any, copper stock at the San Francisco Mint to produce Bronze cents after the cessation of the production of the 1909 Indian Head cent
After reflection that actually makes more sense. If the Mint at San Francisco had to wait for the new Fiscal Year to fund their ability to purchase metals for the production of the new Lincoln cents. Then they would have had to wait for the new material to be delivered. This may be particularly true if the Mint had to produce more coins for the Philippines.
Looking again at the Mint Directors report of 1909; I find that the Coiner operated on 1,316,474.60 Troy ounces of copper. The Coiner delivered 796,502 troy ounces of copper coin. Of this 654,102 ounces of finished coin were produced for the Philippines for a total mintage of 3,924,612 One Centavos.
The Mint Directors Report shows that the percentage of material produced from the amount operated on was 56.15 percent.
Leading one to believe that production of the 1909-S Indian Head cent
was halted due to a lack of Copper.
On balance I now believe that the mint at San Francisco did have to wait for the begining of the new Fiscal Year to purchase new Copper.
I hope that this adds to the understanding of the production history of the 1909-S VDB