One day in 1910 Bertha Relph opened her change purse onto the sewing table because that had the most light. She began sorting through the pennies. Most bore the familiar Indian Head design, but here and there were the bright new Lincoln Head cents.
She was pleased with the design for Lincoln was one of her favorite presidents. Taft, well, he’s all right and if women were allowed to vote she would consider him, but Lincoln was a president to be proud of.
Each time she found a Lincoln Head penny, she would turn it over and look carefully at the lower edge. She was searching for three small initials: VDB. She knew that in 1909 the San Francisco mint had coined 750,000 pennies with the initials of Victor D. Brenner, the designer of the coin, embossed on the back. 750,000 may sound like a lot of coins, but when the mint was issuing millions, the VDB was pretty rare.
She found only one of these special coins. She carefully wrapped it in tissue paper and put in a corner of her bureau drawer.
There it stayed until her youngest daughter, Ruth, had a son. She took the coin and passed it to her daughter saying, “Take this coin and save it for Charles until he is old enough to take care of it. It is rare and will be very valuable someday.”
I am Charles, and when I was a teen ager my mother passed the coin to me and told me that my grandmother had predicted its growing value and wished me to have it.
I have it still. My 1909 S VDB Lincoln cent is not out on display, but is locked safely away. Its value had passed the $1000 mark the last time I checked. Bertha must be pleased.
She might also be pleased if I pass it to one of my grandchildren and say, “Take care of this. It’s a gift to you from your great- great-grandmother.”