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CHARLESTON – A rare penny should pique the interest of coin collectors during the next online unclaimed property auction administered by State Treasurer John Perdue’s Office.

Appraisers attached a value of $500 to a 1909-S VDB. That particular penny is rare – 484,000 were minted. On its face, that sounds like a large number, until one knows the whole story.

“Coin collectors will know what a 1909-S VDB is,” said Karen Plunk with Lone Star Auctioneers, the company which runs the auctions for the Treasurer’s Office. “It is a rare penny and the most famous, most well-known Lincoln penny you can still find out there.”

An e-Bay post from collector Ron Guth explains the reason for the scarcity of the coin. When designer Victor David Brenner created the new penny, he placed his whole name in tiny letters on the base of the reverse, bottom center. A mint engraver later changed the name to the artist’s three initials, sparking ire among those who said the larger initials were far from discrete and amounted to “free, illegal advertising for the designer.”

In response, mint employees simply removed the initials, creating the scarcity of the original coin.

The next Treasurer’s Office online auction is scheduled to run June 3 to June 18. To bid, go to All that's necessary is creation of a username and password.

“Once again, you just never know what we’re going to take in through unclaimed property, and hence, the online auctions,” Treasurer Perdue said. “But I understand the 1909-S VDB is not your usual coin.”

The 1909-S VDB cent ranked 14th in the second edition of""100 Greatest U.S. Coins"" by Jeff Garrett and Guth, reflecting the immense popularity of this date.

“All that we auction off online comes either from in-state safe deposit boxes or law enforcement seizures,” Perdue said. “The point is, it all originates from the state. So please, go to the site and investigate this coin and other items.”

The Treasury does not collect state taxes. Visit the The West Virginia State Tax Department for assistance.

West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Capitol Complex Building #1, Room E-145
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
304-558-5000 Toll Free: 800-422-7498
Hours: 8am-5pm (ET)

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