The 1916 wheat pennies come in three varieties “D”, “P” and “S”.
1916 P Penny
1916 Philadelphia Mint Amount: 131,832,627
Rarity: Quite common in Mint state, even gems are fairly plentiful. Sadly, some of the potentially finest coins are plagued by irremovable black spots. These serve as tangible reminders to never talk or eat over exposed coins. Original, uncirculated rolls of this issue may still exist.
Like so many early Lincoln, This issue is difficult to located in grade EF and AU. By the time such coins were worth saving, nearly all had worn down to lower grades. Those that survived so by pure chance. They may have resided in cookie jars, been lost in bureau drawers or suffered some other interruption in their normal destiny which preserved them for the benefit of collectors.
Varieties: one obverse cud die break is known the familiar position below Lincoln’s shoulder.
Comments: The first issue to reflect wartime prosperity, the 1916-P cent is not only quite common in most grades, but it is superbly struck well.
The small population of MS BN specimens simply reflects the low value of such coins and should not be misinterpreted as an indication of rarity. This statement is true of most P-Mint coins dated 1916 and later.
Walter Breen noted in his Encyclopedia that modified dies were introduced this year, and that certainly accounts for the extraordinary wealth of detail evident in Lincoln’s beard. The master die for 1916 is indeed superior to all dates which preceded or followed, and these coins make ideal type specimens.
It appears the the obverse master hub of 1909 was replaced altogether in 1916, as the relief of Lincoln’s ear is noticeably higher than on earlier dates. Such a change is not likely to have been made in the master die alone, for it would then need to be reaped each year as a news master die was sunk form the master hub
For 1916, the Philadelphia Mint used 505 cent dies; Denver 164 and San Francisco 60.22
1916 D Penny
Rarity: 1916-d if fairly common in the lower circulated grades. Coins grading VF through AU are scarce, as collecting for circulation didn’t become popular for another 20 years. In Mint State, choice brown or red/brown examples are scarce at the very least, while coins displaying full, original colors are unquestionably rare. When found, these tend to have a pinkish hue and are usually less than fully struck. The sharper pieces are typically brown in color.
Varieties: A massive, obverse cud die break may be found at the 7 o’clock position, obliterating about 20 percent of the design.
Comments: Well struck coins are scare but may be found, a situation aided in part by the superior master die introduced this year. A few deficient coins struck form overused ides may be encountered, but this problem doesn’t appear until the following year.
The rarity of this date in MS65 RD will come as a surprise to many who are new to collecting Lincolns in high grades but not to veteran specialist in the series. As with all branch mint Lincolns form the 1910s and 1920s beware of pieces which have been cleaned. These may be very deceptively recolored to an appeal red and brown. The fact that a specimen is certified and encapsulated will usually screen out such alternation. Cleaned and recolored coins are still collectable, but they should be purchased at a price which reflects their lessened desirability.
1916 S Penny
Rarity: Relatively plentiful in lower grades, only Mint state coins may be called scare. Brown or red/brown uncirculated pieces are usually available, though they may not always be attractive. Fully red specimens are extremely are, and their certified population in MS65 is among the lowest in the series.
Varieties: A single doubled-die obverse is known, with doubling visible on Liberty.
Comments: Like the 1916 D cents, only a few are poorly stuck. Most are fairly sharp, while a select few will display a fantastic degree of sharpness, These are equal to any proof in their central details, although they will lack the squared inner and outer border which typify proof coins.
As with most S-Mint cents of the years 1908-23, the planchet stock utilized for 1916-S was seldom alloyed properly. Uncleaned, Mint State coins with original color will frequently display a wood grain pattern of faint, elongated stains, such as those seen on the exampled illustrated.
The effect of elongation occurs when the strip is processed through a succession of rollers to obtain its proper thickness before punching out the blanks. This coloration is desirable to come and distracting to others, but it only affects a coin’s grade and subsequent value when truly severe. Beware of cleaned and retoned examples in grades EF and higher; these probably outnumber coins having their original surface by a sizable margin.