Pushed 1954 Cent Out of Spotlight
By Paul M. Green
At $17.50 in
MS-65, the 1954 Lincoln cent currently looks to
be a bit better than many other Lincoln cent
dates from the 1950s. However, it is hard to use
the grading services to show that it is less
available than other Lincoln cents from the same
time. Even if the coin comes back as an MS-65,
it is financially pointless to have them graded
since the price of grading is more than the coin
The possibility that the 1954 might be better
than some other dates of the period would be due
to a number of factors, some of which may also
apply to other Lincoln cents.
There is a very traditional reason why the 1954
might be better, and that is a mintage of
71,873,350. While that total does not sound
especially low, it was well below average for a
cent in the 1950s.
The 1954 would not attract much if any attention
as there were lower mintages, although only a
couple. The 1949-S had a mintage of more than 64
million and the 1955-S was also lower at
The 1955-S enters into the picture because in
the 1950s the Lincoln cent was the most popular
collection with many young collectors. As a
general rule with the Lincoln cent, San
Francisco dates tended to be lower mintage. As a
result, there was a significant focus on any
S-mint Lincoln cents. Rolls of mixed dates from
San Francisco sold for much higher prices than
rolls from Denver or Philadelphia, and it was
just natural that between two Lincoln cents with
basically the same mintage, the one from San
Francisco would receive more attention than the
The 1955-S was heavily hoarded as it had the
added advantage of being what everyone thought
was the last cent produced in San Francisco.
That fact alone would have probably cut into the
amount of saving of the 1954.
By 1954, collectors and dealers were all excited
by the 1950-D Jefferson nickel with its record
low mintage for a Jefferson nickel of 2,630,030.
It was rising rapidly in price and it could not
be found in circulation in any numbers, which
seemed to suggest it was going to go to even
With everyone trying to acquire the 1950-D, that
left relatively little money for other new
issues such as the 1954 cent. Moreover, as is
seen in the other mintages, even if there was
money for things like rolls of dates other than
the 1950-D Jefferson nickel, those funds were
not likely to be spent on the 1954 Lincoln cent
even if it looked to be slightly better than
most Lincoln cents of the time.
Besides, if anyone needed a 1954 Lincoln cent,
they could be found in the year proof or mint
sets. However, it should be pointed out that the
sales of such sets at the time were very low
with the combined total being less than 300,000.
So realistically, there are potentially no large
supplies of the 1954.