Any coin collector will tell you that one of the most important coins a collector should have in any collection is a "Wheat Penny". These pennies are also known by the name Wheatback, Wheatie, Strawpenny as well as Wheat Head. This is a one-cent coin that was produced by the mint from the years 1909 until 1958.
These coins were designed by Victor David Brenner, a sculptor in New York, who infamously added his initials of V.D.B. to the coin. This was done on a small number of coins until controversy erupted and ended the initials on the coin. There were around 484,000 of these coins minted, which is one reason why they can now fetch up to $100's of dollars. If you have one that is in mint condition it could sell as high as $12,000. These 1909 San Francisco minted coins are one of the most valuable wheat pennies to have in a collection.
1909 and 1914
Although selling for less money, 1909-S VDB wheat penny and the 1914-D wheat penny, will sell in the neighborhood of $5,000. These coins both had errors in them, which is why they command such a high price. Today, most of the wheat coins are now in private collections or are held by coin dealers.
Occasionally, even today, a wheat coin will show up in regular circulation. These are usually not the most valuable or the rarest wheat coins, some years will still bring a good price. The 1922 wheat penny without a mintmark is an example. Because the die that was used was so weak, some pennies had a D stamped on them while others lacked it.
Wheat Penny During WWII
One of the most rare, the 1944 wheat penny, is one that was made from bronze or zinc coated steel. These were made during World War II because of the war rationing of copper. Date collectors of wheat pennies consider the 1943 steel penny to be a must for any collection. The mint changed back to a composition of copper, tin and zinc in 1944.
1955 Double Die
An interesting coin is the double die 1955 wheat penny. There is a very distinct double image of Lincoln on this coin. Because it was not supposed to turn out this way, it's considered an error coin. No real wheat penny collection is considered complete without this coin.
Wheat pennies, from just about any other year are worth three times their value, unless of course it's from a year considered to be a "key date" or "Semi-Key Date". There are numerous websites online that will give you an idea of the value of a wheat penny. Prices of course will vary depending on who is doing the evaluation. A retailer will offer less than a direct purchase done with a collector. If you have one that you would like to sell or just get an idea of the value, Ebay is a fascinating place to check out values. Your local library will also be able to give you some guidance as well as a complete history on these fascinating pennies.