In 1909, the first Lincoln wheat pennies were produced by the United States Mint. While those original edition pennies can sometimes be worth a lot of money, other editions can be highly desirable by coin collectors too.
A 1933-D, for example, may have a value of $2.20 or more. A 1931-S could be worth at least $40. We have put together a simple list of some of the most valuable pennies that you can find. This list describes problem-free coins that are graded Extremely Fine-40 on the Sheldon Grading Scale.
Keep in mind that damaged coins or those grading lower will be worth less than the listed wheat penny values.
Valuable Penny #1: 1943 copper Lincoln Wheat Penny, $45,000: A Philadelphia Mint version of the 1943 Lincoln Wheat Penny is not worth quite as much as a San Francisco Mint or Denver Mint coin, but it is still a rare coin. Fewer than 30 copper 1943 pennies can be found today from all three of the mints (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco).
Valuable Penny #2: 1856 Flying Eagle penny, $12,850: Only 2,000 pieces of these coins were ever made. They were originally made as pattern coins, and although quite a lot of them circulated, the series was never intended before 1857 to be produced on a mass scale.
Valuable Penny #3: 1944 Steel Lincoln Wheat Penny, $125,000: Blank steel cent planchets from 1943 found in the coining presses were mistakenly stamped with the 1944 dies, and this led to a rare coin that coin collectors will often pay over a hundred thousand dollars.
Valuable Penny #4: 1969-S doubled die obverse Lincoln Memorial penny, $10,000: Doubled die coins are some of the most popular error coin varieties available. The 1969-S (San Francisco Mint) is no exception. Not only is it one of the most expensive small pennies, but it is also worth the most out of all the Lincoln Memorial series coins.
Valuable Penny #6: 1877 Indian Head penny, $2,650: The 1877 Indian Head cent isn’t any type of error or pattern coin. It is simply a regular-issue piece that was struck in very small numbers. There were only 852,500 originally minted, and an even smaller number of them remain today.
Valuable Penny #7: 1873 doubled Liberty “closed 3” Indian Head penny, $2,400: A doubled die coin of any era is rare to begin with, but an Indian Head cent is rarer still. The closed 3 is especially rare because only about a million 1873 cents of this variety were made, although about 11 million “open 3” cents were made.
Valuable Penny #8: 1943-S copper Lincoln Wheat Penny, $185,000: The 1943-S copper cent is one of the most valuable small pennies, with one example having sold for a cool $1 million at an auction in 2012. The 1943 Lincoln Pennies were an accident at the U.S. Mint.
It is suspected that a few leftover copper planchets from 1942 were left in the coining press system and they were then struck with the 1943 penny dies. These coins are considered by the Professional Coin Grading Service the “most desirable and valuable of all Mint errors” and they are highly valued by U.S. coin collectors.
Valuable Penny #9: 1955 doubled die obverse Lincoln Wheat Penny, $1,900: There were about 24,000 Lincoln Cents struck with a doubled die in 1955. The U.S. Mint knew this before the coins were released to the public, but they were not going to destroy an entire batch of Lincoln Pennies just to catch the ones with the doubled image, so they were released and soon discovered in New England vending machines.
By the end of the 1950s, they had become a valuable coin collector item and they remain quite valuable to this day.
Valuable Penny #10: 1922 No D plain Lincoln Wheat Penny, $2,050: Repairs to a damaged coin die left the 1922-D cent without any visible trace of its mint mark, leaving a coin that many thought back in the mid-1920s was a typical unmarked penny from the Philadelphia Mint.
In 1922 the Denver Mint struck pennies, and one-cent coins without a mint mark but bearing that date were in error. There were about 15,000 to 20,000 plain 1922 Lincoln Cents produced, but nobody knows how many remain. The 1922 no-D penny is rare and this means it is in high demand for most coin collectors.
Other Valuable Pennies
- 1917 doubled die Lincoln Wheat Penny, $1,350
- 1909-S VDB Lincoln Wheat Penny, $1,025
- 1869/9 Indian Head penny, $865
- 1858/7 Flying Eagle penny, $760
- 1914-D Lincoln Wheat Penny, $760
- 1909-S Indian Head penny, $750
- 1872 Indian Head penny, $625
- 1869 Indian Head penny, $450
- 1871 Indian Head penny, $420
- 1870 Indian Head penny, $410
- 1864 pointed L on Indian Head bust, $325
- 1972 doubled die obverse Lincoln Memorial penny, $290
- 1909-S/S over horizontal S Lincoln Wheat Penny, $275
- 1878 Indian Head penny, $245
- 1909-S Lincoln Wheat Penny, $225
Are The 25 Most Valuable Pennies Also The Rarest?
Even though the two most valuable coins above are the rarest (between 20 and 40 specimens from the key dates of World War II, including the 1943 bronze cent and 1944 steel cent, are thought to exist), the order of coin values doesn’t always correspond with how rare the individual coins are.
For example, many of the collectibles on the list above are rarer in number than the 1914-D Lincoln cent or the 1877 Indian Head cent or, but they are not as widely collected, and so the value of those coins is lower. While mintage numbers are important, they don’t tell the full story. So many types of coinage that were once minted no longer survive today, for a wide variety of reasons.
Some mint years are more valuable than others, and the minting location may also be important. Also, the penny coin’s overall condition is important in terms of its value. Well-preserved coins can have significantly higher value in the numismatic world of coin collecting than similar coins with extensive wear and tear or damage. Damaged coins are often only worth their face value to the coin dealer, even if they are old coins.
Lincoln Wheat pennies are some of the most popular U.S. coins that coin collectors use to build a complete set. Rare pennies like the 1914-D are vital to any Lincoln Wheat cent collection. Before all you budding numismatists start building a complete set of Lincoln Wheat pennies, use the advice here to give you an idea of the value of your Lincoln Wheat pennies, so that you can start pricing them.