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The 1909-S VDB Is Not The True Key Date Of The LWC Series (Data Analysis)

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 Posted 09/21/2020  1:34 pm Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Almost every collector knows about the S-VDB Lincoln Cent. It's widely hailed as THE key date of the series and a crown jewel so to speak of a date and mint set. However, once you look at populations, you'll notice something pretty startling, the 09-S VDB isn't all that rare.

There were around 484,000 09-S VDB Lincoln Cents struck, by mintage the rarest date in the series. However, around 30,000 examples are currently graded at PCGS and NGC (combined), and many examples that exist are raw, or in ANACS or ICG slabs. Taking those into account I estimate around 33000 or so examples still exist. This means around only 7% of the original mintage figure still exist. This low initial production, and low survival rate is what makes this the key date, right?

Welllll not exactly. Going off of PCGS and NGC pop reports there are currently almost 12000 S-VDB Lincoln Cents in Mint State Condition. That means about 1 in 3 surviving examples are in mint state, with a majority being BN or RB. This means that the % of coins that still exist in MS in comparison with the initial striking figures is around 2.33%. While that doesn't seem like a lot from a statistics perspective, that's a VERY high survival rate. Like, very high.

In addition, with around 30000+ examples avaliable there is an ample supply available, this is evidenced by any coin show or by eBay. Next time a coin show is open walk from booth to booth and try to figure out how long it takes to find an S-VDB available, I promise you it won't take long.

The other problem with the S-VDB as far as key dates go is the classic supply vs demand curve.

How many people collect Lincoln Cents by date? More than 30,000? Less than 30000? In my opinion it's probably about 30,000. But for the sake of argument let's say there's 60,000 or 100,000 interested collectors. Only 1 example available will without a doubt drive prices up, but in the grand scheme of things isn't technically "all that rare".

So with all this said, what is the key date then? The answer is pretty well known amongst experienced collectors, and that is the 1914-D Lincoln Cent.

With a mintage of just under 1.2m it more than doubles the mintage of the 09-S VDB so how could it be rarer?

The answer lies in survival rates.

Across all grades only 15,500 examples are known according to PCGS and NGC pops. Again, accounting for raw examples, and ANACS/ICG examples, perhaps 16,500 examples exist. This means that only 1.375% of the initial mintage survive, or in other terms almost a 99% attrition rate.

The other major difference is also in the number of Mint State survivors. Across all MS grades and colors only around 1.6k examples exist. That means there's almost 9x as many Mint State S-VDBs than 14-Ds.

Repeating the same exercise as before, next time you can get to a coin show, see how long it takes to find a 14-D. I promise it'll be a bit before you happen across one.

The other problem with the 14-D is that many of the Mint State examples suffer from discoloration, light corrosion, or many other detractors that can be found while the S-VDB can be found problem free with little to no effort.

Due to the totality of all these factors, the 14-D becomes clear as the true key date in the series.


Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my analysis and maybe learned something new.
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
Edited by GrapeCollects
09/21/2020 7:10 pm
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 Posted 09/21/2020  1:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hfjacinto to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Cool!! So I have 2 key dates for LWC. WOOT WOOT!!



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 Posted 09/21/2020  2:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add GMS5 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@GrapeCollects, I like the thinking on this and fully agree. 14D should be top of the list.
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 Posted 09/21/2020  2:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoinHunter27 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That was a nice read. Very good explanation!

-CH27
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 Posted 09/21/2020  3:14 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I will add, there are dates that are rarer than the S-VDB in Mint State, but very common in circulated grades. That would include dates like the 21-S, 24-D, 25-S, etc.

@GMS5 I agree. The coin is massively underrated by the community.

@CH27 I appreciate it! This took around an hour and a half to properly research, write up, edit and then post. It was fun to do though, so it didn't really seem like work.
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
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 Posted 09/21/2020  4:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add suipakpaikungfu to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
While I totally agree with the 14-D assessment, I disagree on the pop
of 09-S VBDs. Unless I'm reading it wrong, you are saying there's
only 3000 raw ones? Seems likely that far more than 3000 raw ones exist.
I've personally seen 2 ROLLS of raw 09-S VDB that will not be set back
into the wild any time soon. over half the ones I've seen in collections are
in the album.
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 Posted 09/21/2020  5:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add KenKat to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What you say is true if you are trying to build a mint state collection; however, in a circulated collection the 09-S VDB is still the key. The 14-D is much easier to obtain and is cheaper than the 09-S VDB in, say, VG grades. But you are right, a 14-D in an MS grade is scarce indeed.
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 Posted 09/21/2020  5:59 pm  Show Profile   Check Pacificoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Pacificoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I am willing to bet that well over half of the original Mintage of 09 S VDB still exist .
I have personally handled well over fifty and that is here in Canada !
S mint coinage circulated quite freely in British Columbia for decades .
I pulled 2 out of rolls in the middle 1960 s !!
The 1909 S is an overrated coin , that much like a Canada 1948 Silver Dollar
It is simply what we call a MONEY COIN . The right money and the coin is yours .
On the other hand , we handled very few nice 1914 D or 1922 no mint Mark pieces .
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 Posted 09/21/2020  6:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ty2020b to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well written Grape! I've only owned two, down to one that is sentimental ( PCGS F15), and don't plan on purchasing another any time soon for these reasons. Who knows what's in store for the '09S in the future, but I don't see it increasing in value ( at least significantly). If anything, decreasing in the future when the survival rate catches up to it. And this is also why I'm always on the lookout for sleeper dates..... and of course the true key date, the 14D.

Thanks for taking the time to write this up!
Edited by Ty2020b
09/21/2020 6:22 pm
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 Posted 09/21/2020  7:07 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
over half the ones I've seen in collections are
in the album.


Right, I'm aware of that, but how many of those were cracked from holders so that the buyers was sure it was genuine? I should have clarified by raw I meant that they were never submitted in the first place, not sure why I worded it that way.


Quote:
however, in a circulated collection the 09-S VDB is still the key


This is both true and untrue at the same time, I'll elaborate as to why



Quote:
The 14-D is much easier to obtain and is cheaper than the 09-S VDB in, say, VG grades


This is accurate.

Now to elaborate on why even in circulated grades I still believe the 14-D to be the key date.

Firstly, regardless of grade it is a simple fact based on the already presented data that the attrition rate of the 14-D was much higher, and less examples still exist overall regardless of grade.

If we want to get into the data a little more I have no issue doing so. For the purpose of this analysis I will be using slabbed examples as my data points, I am aware that many low grade 14-Ds are traded raw, specifically below the Fine grade range, and will adjust the numbers in accordance with what I, having worked at, and currently working at an LCS have seen and dealt with, as well as data from other shops and markets such as eBay.

For this data set I'll be breaking it down by general grade range. The ranges will be as follows; Below Good, Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, Extremely Fine, and About Uncirculated.

From my experience and the information I have available in the grades of Poor to About Good about 1 in 3 14-Ds are slabbed, and I've personally never seen an S-VDB below or at AG due to how difficult they are to identify and authenticate, as such I estimate that many examples probably do exist, but are in such a state that a positive identification is not feasible. As such I'll be operating under the assumption that all 09-S VDBs that can be positively identified are slabbed and that while a few may exist that are not slabbed the number would fall within standard deviation and as such are not statistically relevant. Regardless, to adjust for this I'll be adjusting the pop numbers to account for a more realistic population.

PCGS has graded only 3 S-VDBs at AG-03 or below, all 3 of which are AG coins. NGC has graded only 2 examples. As such there are a mere 5 examples known in grades below Good. Logic would dictate there are more that exist, and due to the fact that those such examples are probably sitting in albums never having been submitted I'll give the population a bump to 15.

By comparison, PCGS has graded 57 examples below Good, and NGC graded 29 for a combined population of 86. Adjusting for the fact that around only 1 in 3 or so are slabbed that exist (again based on what data I have observed and can find records of) we can estimate there are about 258 that exist. That would mean in grades below Good the S-VDB is scarcer, though that's largely due to the coin not being positively identifiable often in grades that low.

Now on to the Good range (G-4 and G-6).

Regarding the S-VDB, PCGS has graded 117 examples and NGC 99 for a combined pop of 216. Once at the grade of Good I've found a majority of examples have been slabbed or were cracked after being slabbed. As such perhaps 230 to 250 exist in this grade range.

Now regarding the 14-D, again a majority of known examples are graded, and that will continue from this point out, and to reiterate, when I mean graded, I mean graded at some point in the past, regardless if it was later cracked or not.

PCGS has graded 779 examples in the Good range and NGC 727 for a total of 1506. Again, the S-VDB is much scarcer in the range of Good.

Now onto the VG range.

For the 09-S, NGC has 442 and PCGS has 556 for a total of 998.

For the 14-D PCGS has 1609 and NGC 1156 for a total of 2765.

Again the 09-S is scarcer. But I'd like to point something out. Earlier I said that there was only around 16.5k of the 14-D exist at best. So far we're only in the bottom 10 grades and we've accounted for 25% of the population in the "low" grade tier. By comparison, with the initial estimate at around 33,000 examples of the S-VDB only about 4% of the surviving population is in the similar grade range. What this means is that while the S-VDB is scarcer in low grades, that grade range only accounts for ~4% of the total population available while that same range accounts for 25% of the population of 14-D examples available.

To go back to your initial statement, this is why the 14-D is so cheap in those low grades. Because in just the "low" ranges a quarter of the population is available and as such is cheaper.

Now onto the fine range.

For the 09-S PCGS has 1737 examples and NGC 1535 for a combined total of 3272.

For the 14-D PCGS 1810 and NGC 1128 for a total of 2938.

This marks the first time the 09-S is more common than the 14-D. This also means that the Fine range alone accounts for almost 18% of the 14-D population, while the Fine range only accounts for just under 10%.

Now onto Very Fine.

As for the 09-S PCGS has graded 4050 in the VF range and NGC 1831 for a total of 5881.

As for the 14-D PCGS has graded 2851 and NGC 1438 for a total of 4283.

Now into the VF range the S-VDB outnumbers the 14-D by a thousand examples.

Now into the EF range which I consider high end circulated.

For the 09-S PCGS has graded 2371 and NGC 1051 for a total of 3422.

For the 14-D PCGS has 999 and NGC 453 for a total of 1452.

Now there exists about twice as many 09-S then 14-D in this range.

Now onto AU.

PCGS lists 2646 09-S VDB in AU and NGC 1308 for a total of 3954.

As for the 14-D PCGS lists 636 and NGC 380 for a total of 1016. Just over a quarter of the pop of the 09-S in AU.

Now to MS. For the MS ranges I will be separating into BN,RB, and RD. I will not separate numerical grades.

For the 09-S in MS BN, PCGS has 1705 and NGC 1244 for a total of 2949.

For the 14-D PCGS has 269 and NGC 221 for a total of 480.

Now MS RB.

For the 09-S PCGS has 4043 and NGC 1894 for a total of 5937.

For the 14-D PCGS has 455 and NGC 184 for a total of 639.

Lastly MS RD.

For the 09-S PCGS has 2432 and NGC 524 for a total of 2956.

For the 14-D PCGS has 263 and NGC 58 for a total of 321.


TLDR

The S-VDB is rarer in anything VG below, anything above and including F the 14-D is rarer and the gap only grows with the grade_


My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
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 Posted 09/21/2020  7:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MrPink2018 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
nice discussion, thanks for posting this.
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 Posted 09/21/2020  9:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add KenKat to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think you are WAY underestimating the number of raw coins out there; it's an interesting write-up but your survival rate calculations don't really have anything backing them up but your own projections based on an assumption of the percentage slabbed.

Doing a very quick sampling on eBay, out of the top 200 coins listed under "1914 D Lincoln Cent", 81 were slabbed, so that's around 40%. My guess is that the slabbed percentage is probably lower as there are probably a bunch of raw coins tucked away in old time collections and not for sale.

Market pricing is a powerful force. The fact that you can get a VG or F 14-D for $150 while an 09-S VDB goes for $600 and up says a lot.

In higher grades, you are absolutely right.
Edited by KenKat
09/21/2020 9:12 pm
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 Posted 09/21/2020  10:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jmkendall to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Actually the key date is the 1926-S in Red. And if you really want to get technical find a 1926-S in Red AND full details. The 1926-D is a close second. The 1923/4/5-S in Full details Red are no slouches either.

AS for the survival rate of the 09-S VDB...I grew up in San Francisco. Up till the early 1960s you could still find the Non-VDB 09-S coin roll hunting. My Grandfather, born 1904 and an avid collector since the 1920s Had accumalated 512 of them at the time of his passing in the early 80s. There was a dealer in Oakland California that my Grandfather said had several Rolls of them up till the 30s. My Grandfather bought one,which I still own. People back home knew they were speciall when they came out. They were saved in drawers and jars for decades.

I would bet more than half the mintage survives. Look at ebay. There are about 400 of them that sold in the last 90 days.
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 Posted 09/22/2020  10:42 am  Show Profile   Check nss-52's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add nss-52 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
...and there are multiples of the mintage in counterfeits out there.
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 Posted 09/22/2020  11:45 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice analysis, but I tend to agree with @KenKat that you may be overestimating the proportion of coins that have been graded, especially in the middle grades. Your experience in a coin shop may bias you by exposing you to relatively more slabbed coins, but I suspect there are lots of raw coins out there in collections. Nevertheless, I agree with your overall conclusions about the relative scarcity of the key dates.
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 Posted 09/22/2020  6:07 pm  Show Profile   Check BadThad's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add BadThad to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It IS a true key date in that it has the lowest mintage. However, it's also true that the 1914D is more scarce. When I've been at coin shows, there are always a few SVDB's to choose from but usually only a couple 14D's.
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