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Cent's Place in Time Made for More Saving
By Paul M. Green

The 1954-S Lincoln cent is an interesting coin despite being relatively inexpensive. Its price, like lower prices for some other dates, may actually be an indication of just how interesting the 1954-S was to collectors back in the mid-1950s.

It has to be remembered that in the mid-1950s there was a lot of enthusiasm for dates like the 1950-D Jefferson nickel, which may well be an interesting comparison to the 1954-S cent as the record low mintage of the 1950-D nickel would seem to suggest that it should be more expensive than other Jefferson nickels, but that is not the case. It is more costly than most but everyone knows there are large supplies of Mint State 1950-D Jefferson nickels and that will tend to prevent extreme price climbs.

One of the significant influences of the 1950-D Jefferson nickel was to make collectors and dealers aware of lower mintage issues and active in acquiring significant numbers of new issues that seemed to have promise. Itís not unlike today where, if a modern commemorative sells out and rises in price, you can be sure the next commemorative will be watched very closely for its potential to increase.

The 1954-S Lincoln had a mintage of 96,190,000. That does not sound low, but for a cent in the 1950s it was low simply because it was less than 100 million. That fact alone might have caused a few to take a second look at the 1954-S.

The interest would have increased because the 1954-S was from San Francisco, and that was seen as the minter of better date Lincoln cents. It was not universal, but generally speaking a cent from San Francisco would bring a slight premium over a cent from Philadelphia or Denver, even if it had a seemingly high mintage.

Another factor was the announcement that San Francisco would cease coin production after 1955. The 1954-S was not the historic last cent from San Francisco, but the fact that everyone assumed the facility was ceasing coin production forever added to the interest in the 1954-S.

With its mintage the 1954-S could be found in circulation, but it was not as available as might be suspected. The likely reason is that there was some saving of the date. Even though logic would have said it would not be a tough date, the assorted considerations at the time might have been enough to convince many that there was certainly nothing to be lost by setting aside a nice original roll of the 1954-S.

We cannot really be sure of the supply of the 1954-S, but at 25 cents in XF-40 and $12 in MS-65 itís an interesting coin with a decent price. It might never prove to be very valuable except as a story, but that should be worth something.


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