The Lincoln Wheat Penny, introduced in 1909, replaced the Indian Head pennies to celebrate Lincoln's birth centennial.
Production of the Lincoln Wheat Penny ceased in 1958, replaced by the Lincoln Memorial design in 1959.
Despite condition, all Lincoln pennies are worth at least their face value, with rare coins fetching substantially more.
The penny was first minted in 1787 and has been a popular mainstay of American coinage ever since. Although pennies have been in circulation since the late 1700s, it wasn't until 1909 that the penny took its now-familiar form.
This is when the Lincoln Wheat Pennies came about. The design was meant to celebrate the centennial of Lincoln's birth and replace the Indian Head pennies of that time.
The Lincoln Penny was one of the last coin designs from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and the San Francisco Mints. These pennies are popular with collectors and, depending on their condition, can have significant value.
Here's a guide to the value of Lincoln Wheat Pennies.
The History of the Lincoln Penny Design
The sculptor and engraver Victor David Brenner designed the Lincoln Wheat Penny. President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to commemorate Lincon's 100th birthday and ordered the coin to be based on Brenner's work.
The design of the penny was similar to a desk plaque Brenner designed for Gotham Manufacturing in 1907 and a profile picture of Lincoln from 1864. The inscriptions on the penny included "In God We Trust" above Lincoln's head, and the word "Liberty" is to the left with the date to the right.
The back of the coin has an image of two stalks of wheat that includes the motto "E Pluribus Unum" and the phrase "United States of America" above the denomination.
When Brennan first submitted the design, he included his full name on the obverse of the coin. The Mint director Frank Leach objected, and Brenner then put his initials on the reverse instead. On August 12, 1909, the penny was realized, but the initials became a source of controversy. By August 12, 1909, the decision was made to produce the pennies without Brennan's initials. The pennies continued production without his initials until 1918 when they were included once again below Lincoln's shoulder. The initials remain there to this day.
Mint Marks on Lincoln Wheat Pennies
Depending on the year of mintage and the mint of production, Lincoln Wheat Pennies can vary significantly in value. The S mintmark that's denoted with a small "S" under the date, shows the coin was minted in San Francisco. This feature makes the coin highly sought after among coin collectors.
Lincoln Pennies that were minted in Denver include a "D" mintmark. Coins minted in Philadelphia do not display a mintmark. This lack of a mintmark is part of the traditional mint procedure for the Philadelphia mint.
The Bad News About Lincoln Wheat Pennies
If you're hoping the pennies lying around your home are Lincoln Wheat Pennies, you may be glad to learn that some of them could be. The bad news is that even if they are Wheat Pennies, they may not be worth that much.
Most of these pennies you find in circulation are worth less than 10 cents each. In fact, the only Lincoln wheat pennies struck after 1933 that are with more are those with major errors or variations.
It's always possible you could come across one of value, but the ones you find in your pocket change are probably only worth a bit more than face value.
The Good News About Lincoln Wheat Pennies
Although most common-date Lincoln pennies aren't worth more than 10 cents, there are some that are worth a lot more by far. The most valuable ones are four major regular-issue key dates, several valuable semi-key dates, and some with errors.
How Much Is a Lincoln Wheat Penny Worth?
There are valuable wheat pennies in circulation today. These values depend on market updates and the latest deals.
Due to numismatic interest, they are worth more than their copper melt value. This is similar to the key dates of silver dimes, quarters, half dollars, and some dollar coins that are worth more than what is referred to as "junk silver."
1944 Steel Penny
In 1943, as the U.S. was involved in World War II, the United States Mint replaced copper for steel to produce wheat cents. This change lasted a year. In 1944, they began producing the Lincoln Cent with bronze alloy.
However, there was leftover steel in the pressing machines as this change was taking place, and these "mistakes" ended up in circulation. These 1944 Steel Cents are valuable because they are very rare.
There are only 30 samples known today. In average condition, a Steel Cent is worth up to $110,000. In mint-certified condition, it's worth up to $110,000.
1943 Copper Penny
The 1943 pennies were supposed to be minted with steel while the country was embroiled in World War II. Some bronze planchets were used by mistake.
Only a few of these pennies exist and are in circulation. They are considered extremely rare error coins.
Many collectors will pay around $60,000 for one of these coins in average condition and up to $85,000 for one in mint condition.
1914 D Wheat Penny
The year and mintage location (Denver) make the 1914 D Wheat Penny the most valuable non-error Wheat Penny. The value of these coins ranges from $280 to over $5,500 for one in mint condition.
1922 D Wheat Penny
The value of the 1922 D Wheat Penny ranges from around $20 to over $5,000 for one in mint condition.
1926 Wheat Penny
This Penny has no mintmark. The value ranges from 35 cents and up to $3,000 for one in mint condition.
1909 S VDB Penny
1909 was the debut year for these pennies and there were versions with the initials V.D.B and without V.D.B. The version with the initials that were minted at the San Francisco Mint is the rarest and most valuable.
In average condition, the value is about $950 to $2,200 for one in mint condition.
Other Wheat Penny Values
- The 1914 S Wheat Penny is with $28 to $1,500
- The 1924 S Wheat Penny is worth $1.55 to $1,500
- The 1915 S Wheat Penny is worth $30 to $1,200
- The 1924 D Wheat Penny is worth $35 to $1,200
- The 1923 Wheat Penny has no mint mark and is worth 75 cents to $1,000
- The 1927 Wheat Penny without a mintmark is worth 35 cents to $1,000
- The 1918 D Wheat Penny is worth $1.25 to $900
- The 1920 S Wheat Penny is worth 75 cents to $900
- The 1921 S Wheat penny is worth $1.95 to $850
- The 1916 S Wheat Penny is worth $8 to $800
- The 1917 S Penny is worth 95 cents to $700
Other Pennies to Watch For
In addition to the above pennies, you want to keep an eye out for wheat pennies that have double dies and other errors. They are rare and considered very valuable in the coin-collecting world.
Some of the errors can only be identified with a magnifying glass, and some are visible to the naked eye. Here are five valuable coins to be aware of.
- The 1909 S Over Horizontal is worth $50 to $240 for uncirculated coins
- The 1917 Double Die Obverse is worth $80 to $3,000 for uncirculated ones
- The 1922 No D is worth $350 to $12,000 (No "D" mint mark)
- The 1944 DD Over S is worth $40 to $260 (The "S" is covered by a "D")
- The 1955 Doubled Die Obverse is worth $500 to $1,900 (Also called the "King of Lincoln Cent varieties")
Although not all wheat penny varieties will fetch a high price, all wheat pennies are worth more than face value. They are highly sought after by collectors.
With this list of Lincoln Penny values, you can be on the lookout for any in your possession or any that may come your way.
What Years of the Lincoln Pennies Are Valuable?
The value of a coin depends on a variety of factors, including Wheat Penny key dates, purity, metal content, and more. Lincoln Wheat Pennies were in production for 50 years.
Some of these collectible Wheat Pennies are rarer than others and extremely valuable to coin collecting enthusiasts. The single most valuable Wheat Penny to sell at auction is a 1943-D Bronze Cent that sold for $840,000.
Other very valuable Wheat Pennies include the 1944 Steel Penny, the 1909-S VBD Lincoln Wheat Penny, and the 1943-D Bronze Cent.
Where Can You Sell Wheat Pennies?
You can sell Wheat pennies to online or through local dealers, at coin shows, on eBay, or at pawn shops. The wisest option is to find a trustworthy dealer who will evaluate your coins correctly and offer a fair price.
When Did They Stop Producing Wheat Pennies?
The debut of the Lincoln Wheat Penny was in 1909, and production of this penny ended in 1909 when President Eisenhower was in office.
He changed the penny's design that year and substituted the Lincoln Memorial for the wheat stalks. The U.S. Mint began the production of the newly designed penny in January 1959.
Is a Used Wheat Penny Worth Anything?
All coins are worth at least their face value. Other factors like condition and rarity influence wheat penny prices.
Lincoln pennies are all legal tender. Even in poor condition, they are worth at least three to four cents. The rare coins are worth substantially more to coin collectors.
Consider Your Investments Today
It's amazing to think that a little piece of history like the Lincoln Wheat Penny could be in your possession right now. Although most Lincoln Wheat Pennies don't have great value, they are worth more than their face value. And some are worth substantially more
If you're interested in collecting rare coins or learning more about investing in precious metals, the U.S. Gold Bureau would love to help. We're a premier supplier of precious metals and our clients" financial needs and goals drive everything we do.
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