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Wheat Penny | Lincoln Wheat Cents 1909 - 1958

Wheat pennies or wheat back cents or even wheaties have been collected by young and old for generations. Lincoln cents before 1959 were once common in circulation but are getting harder and harder to find. The Lincoln wheat cents are a fun way to collect coins and have a interesting history. So – start clicking around the site and maybe you’ll find out something new or recall a fond memory of a family member or friend that gave you some wheat pennies for fun, friendship, or even profit! Yes – we’ll even show you some totally expensive and cool pennies that are worth over $10000!

In the pages on wheatpenny.net we show some history, values, characteristics, interesting stories, and more!

Did you know that if you doubled the value of a penny over 30 days you would have over a million dollars? So for your next job – just tell them that on day one you’ll take one penny, on day two, two pennies, on day three – 4 cents. By day 30 – you’ll buy the company! But lets get back to the serious business of wheaties.

It’s very popular for kids, and I mean everyone, to glance through their change at the end of the day. Some toss it it in a jar, on a desk, in a coffee can or whatever – but many go through it before bringing it to the bank to separate silver and wheaties from their spare change. If you are a bit more set on finding some wheaties, then the next time you are at the bank, buy a few rolls of pennies from the teller. Bring them home and I bet you (Honest Abe may have not been a betting man) – but I bet you you’ll find a few wheat back cents. I know – I’ve done it! 


The Lincoln what penny or cent was minted in the United States between the years of 1909 and 1958. This highly collected penny was minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. In August of 1909 the Lincoln cent was released the American public too much anticipation and fanfare. It was replacing the Indian head penny which has been around for 50 years since 1859. The Lincoln cent has seen many changes during its 100 + year run. In 1959 the reverse of the coin sometimes called the tails or the back side was change from the characteristic wheat stalks to a depiction of the Lincoln Memorial. In 2009, yet more changes occurred during the bicentennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth year. Throughout the site we will bring you some interesting facts about the Lincoln pennies with an emphasis on wheat cents by showing you some history, uncovering the key dates or the rare coins in the series, we will highlight how to grade the coins, and we even have featured coins of the month.

Why wheat?

It seems so commonplace and familiar to see the wheat stalks on the back of the wheat pennies that the wonder of why there is wheat is really a mystery. Why put wheat on the back of a penny? This is supposed to be commemorative to the 100th birth year of Abraham Lincoln. If there was any crop that would come to mind that would be directly connected to Abraham Lincoln I think historians would tend to think of cotton first. I’m sure this would have been entirely inappropriate due to the contradictory nature of the two ideas. Wheat has had a symbolic meaning of prosperity, abundance and fertility, and the whole slew of other positive and affirmative connotations. The symbolism is almost Sublime and unquestioned as time goes on

In addition to the crisp clear and clean lines of the wheat stalks, we also see that there are two stalks. This continues a very familiar theme that has been employed on US coinage dating back to the late 1700’s. It is the idea of a wreath. This adornment beatifies the coin. In this representation on the Lincoln wheat cent its simplicity is stunning when compared with other more intricate designs seen on earlier coins such as the Flying Eagle Cent.

Why Lincoln?

There are several questions to be answered here or at least asked. The easiest one to tackle right now is to understand why the representation or depiction of Abraham Lincoln was used in 1909 on the replacement for the Indian Head Cent. The easiest, simplest, and most obvious answer is that 1909 was the Centennial of Lincoln’s birth year. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th 1809 and a log cabin in Illinois. 100 years later, but not the date, his bust adorned our nation’s lowest denomination currency, the penny. This Centennial celebration of birth years is not restricted to our friend Lincoln, his bosom buddy in birth month – yes that’s right – is presidential Day friend George Washington had a centennial year coin minted which again is still in circulation the Washington quarter which originated in 1932, 200 years after Washington’s birth. But let’s move on to some of the other questions and I’ll begin our next paragraph what somewhat the same question.

Why Lincoln – again?

Up to this point in 1909 every depiction on every coin minted for general currency in the United States of America usually had some representation of Lady Liberty on it. There was never a real person commemorated on a coin – at least not in the United States. Certainly you can find pictures of Caesar on a coin but this wasn’t that kind of democracy. Also in an odd juxtaposition to this conversation there was an 1861 $10 demand note issued by the US government, and by writing the word “note” I am shifting away from coinage to paper money. But, Abraham Lincoln was front and center or at least a little bit to the left on this very rare issue of water called greenbacks. And to further confuse that point Lincoln was alive during the release of that currency. The practice of portraying a living person on US coinage is now prohibited.

So let’s jump pack quickly from the 1860s to the early 1900s was it release of the one cent piece. We haven’t fully answered why Lincoln? But it is probably best to say does it commemoration was due.