Good day, and welcome to this installment of Decent Buys. Tonight we’re going to take a look at an iconic piece of American history: the 1931-S Lincoln Cent.
At the end of this article, you’ll find a list of coins available on eBay that we found for you. These coins are available at or below PCGS Price Guide. While we do not buy nor sell coins, and we do not have any relationship with the sellers listed, if we were in the market for a ’31-S these are some of the coins we would look at seriously.
The 1931-S Lincoln Cent, Wheat Reverse
For many collectors, the 1931-S Lincoln Cent represents a true holy grail of American numismatics. This tiny copper coin, measuring just 19 millimeters in diameter, is a marvel of artistry and craftsmanship, a testament to the skill of America’s early 20th Century coin-makers.
But what makes the 1931-S Lincoln Cent so special? Well, for starters, it’s quite rare. In fact, it’s one of the scarcest coins in the entire Lincoln Cent series, with only a handful known to exist in the highest grades. Even in low grades, the ’31-S Wheat Cent is considered a semi-key date by collectors.
The 1931-S Lincoln Cent was produced at the San Francisco Mint in 1931, during the depths of the Great Depression. At the time, the country was reeling from economic hardship, and many people were struggling just to make ends meet. Given the tough times, the San Francisco Mint saw the need to only produce under 1 million (866,000, to be exact) Lincoln Cents that year, with the “S” mint mark indicating their origin. It’s more than the king of Lincoln Wheats, the 1909-S VDB, but it’s still a tough date.
Of course, that number might sound like a lot, but it’s actually a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of other Lincoln Cents produced during the 1930s. And while some of those other coins might be more common, none of them hold a candle to the 1931-S Lincoln Cent in terms of rarity and value.
But what is it about this particular coin that makes it so valuable? Well, it’s partly due to its rarity, but it’s also because of its condition. You see, the 1931-S Lincoln Cent is notoriously difficult to find in high grades. Most examples of the coin that you’ll come across today are heavily worn and damaged, with some surviving in mint state condition, but almost none in Mint State 67 Red.
For collectors, finding a well-preserved 1931-S Lincoln Cent is the ultimate challenge. In fact, in recent years, some examples of the coin have sold at auction for well over $100,000, making it one of the most valuable Lincoln Cents in existence.
But beyond its rarity and value, the 1931-S Lincoln Cent is also a fascinating piece of history. This tiny coin, with its elegant design of Abraham Lincoln on the obverse and a pair of wheat stalks on the reverse, offers a window into America’s Art Deco past. It’s a reminder of a time when the country was facing immense challenges, but managed to persevere and emerge stronger than ever before.
And so, while the 1931-S Lincoln Cent may seem like just a tiny piece of copper, it represents so much more than that. It’s a symbol of American ingenuity, a testament to the enduring value of hard work and perseverance through the Great Depression. It’s a reminder that even in our darkest hours, we can find hope and inspiration in the most unexpected of places.
NGC certified examples on eBay. All the coins we list here for you are listed at or below their respective NGC Price Guide value for the grade.
1931-S Lincoln Wheat Cent
NGC MS 64 RB $285 – NGC Price Guide for MS 64 RB $270
NGC MS 63 RB $225 – NGC Price Guide for MS 63 RB $215
NGC MS 62 RB $150 – NGC Price Guide for MS 62 RB $200
NGC XF 40 $119 – NGC Price Guide for XF 45 $130
It was a little tougher to find coins priced well according to NGC’s price guide. Could be their guide is out of date or out of touch with the market, could just be there aren’t many NGC coins available the day we looked. Nonetheless, we hope you find this list helpful.
When searching coins on eBay, you’ll find coins priced all over the place. In general terms, unless a coin is a particularly rare and collectible variety, or if a coin has exceptional eye appeal (extremely attractive toning), it’s best to pay as close to or below price guide if you have any kind of investing in mind. That said, the number one rule of collecting is, if you love it no matter what, buy it.
One more time: We don’t buy or sell coins. We have no affiliation with the sellers above, so we can’t tell you if they’re any good or not. The fact that they’re actually pricing the coins about right tells us they’re on the right track.
If you’re curious which Lincoln cents are valuable, check out our page: Which Lincoln Cents Are Worth Money?