How Much Is a 1945 Penny Worth?

How Much Is a 1945 Penny Worth?

Posted by Andrew Adamo on Apr 16th 2024

How Much Is a 1945 Penny Worth? 1945 Wheat Penny Value Guide. 

There are dozens of high-value, collector-worthy pennies out there. But few are as valuable and sought-after as the 1945 penny. These pennies are valuable because they're often found in good condition.

More importantly, they were created in the second year that the US Mint used metal from brass shell casings recovered from the military to make coins. Thus, each 1945 penny has a bit of history embedded into its material composition.

Today, let’s break down how much a 1945 penny is worth, why it’s so much more than pocket change, and the history of this unique coin.

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Who Designed the 1945 Wheat Penny?

The 1945 penny, also called the 1945 Lincoln penny or 1945 wheat penny, is not exactly a rare coin. In fact, the 1945 wheat penny was one of the most prominent and minted coins ever created. These pennies were very popular, especially considering they replaced the 1943 steel pennies that were easily confused as dimes.

This coin was so in demand that it was minted at the US Mint in Denver, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.The coin was originally minted because of the high demand for currency during World War II. It features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the obverse side and wheat stocks on the reverse side of each coin.

The penny was designed by David Victor Brenner, some of whose coins are marked with his initials: DVB. Uncirculatedone-cent coins of high mintage value are popular among collections.

These Lincoln wheat cents have normal face value in an average condition, but there’s far more here than the expected value. These are far more valuable pennies compared to normal penny coins.

What Are the Most Valuable Wheat Pennies?

There are many different types of wheat pennies in circulation, but because they are so old, they are oftentimes valuable to coin collectors and fans of American numismatics.

Note that penny value can vary heavily depending on the quality of the coin, the exact details of the coin, and where it was minted. Generally, a 1944 wheat penny that has a D mint mark is worth more compared to a wheat penny that doesn’t have any mint mark whatsoever.

Other things that can affect wheat penny value include:

  • The coin condition. The better the coin's condition is, the more valuable the coin will be as well.
  • Any unique qualities. Lots of Lincoln pennies have elements, like errors or unique designs, that will either raise or decrease their value at auction.
  • The type of coin. There were three types of 1945 Lincoln pennies made in different quantities and at different meeting facilities. The rarer coins are worth more.

Here are some of the most valuable you can (hopefully) find in collections and auctions:

1945-D Wheat Penny

The 1945-D wheat penny was made by the Denver Mint. These abundant coins are generally graded in excellent grades or qualities and have an estimated value of $.15 up to $1. There were approximately 266 million of these coins minted in 1945.

1945-S Wheat Penny

The 1945-S wheat penny is a popular variety of the core Lincoln cent. True to its mint mark, it was minted at the San Francisco mint during the wheat penny years of low production. Some of these coins can be valued at upwards of $5 if they are found in mint condition, particularly because they were the rarest of these coins minted during their production span.

Since San Francisco struck the fewest of all three varieties of 1945 cents, 1945-S wheat pennies charge the highest prices at auctions. Many collectors look for exceptional value and detail on Lincoln’s shirt and coat.

1945 Wheat Penny

You might also sometimes find a 1945 wheat penny with no mint mark. This was actually the first Lincoln Cent to feature an American president overall.

The 1945 no-mint mark wheat penny has an estimated value that can go up to $1 in mint condition. These were particularly abundant because the Philadelphia Mint made over 1 billion of these Lincoln wheat pennies over its lifespan.

Most collectors favor pennies of this variety with no fading to the original red shade. You can often find these in excellent mint condition.

1945 Wheat Penny and Other Valuable Pennies

When comparing the 1945 wheat penny to other valuable pennies, it's fascinating to see how it stands in the broader spectrum of American numismatics. Among the other valuable pennies, the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent often takes the spotlight due to its rarity and the storied controversy over the designer's initials. Similarly, the 1943 copper penny, a result of a minting error during the steel penny production in World War II, is highly sought after by collectors due to its extreme rarity and historical significance. These pennies, alongside the 1945 wheat penny, highlight the rich tapestry of American coinage, each with its unique story and value to collectors. While the 1945 penny is celebrated for its historical composition and relatively high availability in good condition, making it accessible to a broader range of collectors, the likes of the 1909-S VDB and 1943 copper penny are prized for their scarcity and the intriguing stories behind their creation. This comparison not only showcases the diversity within the realm of valuable pennies but also underscores the importance of historical events, minting anomalies, and the allure of rarity in determining a coin's value and appeal to collectors.

What Is the Weight and Composition of the 1945 Wheat Penny?

The 1945 wheat penny was made with a unique alloy of 95% copper and 5% zinc. The resulting coin was a little more durable compared to earlier iterations of the wheat penny. Furthermore, these coins aren’t as susceptible to corrosion as other pennies.

The majority of 1945 wheat pennies weigh 3.11 g. However, because different meeting facilities created these pennies, some may weigh a bit more. The heaviest pennies weigh up to 3.2 g.

1945 Wheat Penny Errors

As you seek out and collect 1945 wheat pennies, you might discover that certain varieties have errors. Penny errors can actually make certain coins more valuable; here are a few examples.

1945 Lincoln Penny Double Struck, Second Strike, 15% Off Center

Off-center strikes are common visual errors on coins. They happen whenever coins are misaligned during the striking process. Their engravings thus occur away from the center.

There are also double-punching or double-striking errors. These happen when an image with double lines appears on a coin's face. In some cases, you can find Lincoln pennies that have both of these errors combined, making this wheat penny worth potentially even more.

For example, some varieties of 1945-S wheat pennies have off-center strikes (these comprise between 15% and 20% of all off-center 1945-S wheat pennies in circulation). Plenty of coins also have double punching or double die errors. These errors may be particularly noticeable in the letter “I” in the word “liberty.”

Some of these coins, because it’s rare to see both errors at the same time, can be worth upwards of $100. It depends on the condition or grade of the coin, too. (Coin grading by the PCGS or similar agency lets you be sure of the value and mint state.)

1945 Lincoln Penny Struck on Netherlands East Indies 1/2C

There’s another high-value and sought-after variety of the 1945 penny. From time to time, you may see a 1945 Lincoln penny that was struck on a Netherlands East Indies ½ cent planchet at auctions.

As you likely know, each coin has a dedicated planchet depending on its design, weight, and so on, but these types of Lincoln pennies were struck on the wrong planchets. They were also made of copper.

As a result, each 1945 Lincoln Penny struck on Netherlands East Indies ½ cent planchets weighed just 2.39 g. This is significantly lighter compared to the proper Lincoln penny weight of about 3.1 g.

You can also tell that these coins have been improperly created because they are a little smaller in size than average. The outer areas of the lettering and the design of the penny will be missing because of the planchet mistake.

These pennies are so interesting and rare that they often run for hundreds of dollars at auctions and on coin dealership sites. If you happen to find one of these, congratulations — you’ve just scored a collectors’ item that coin fans around the world would be happy to have.

Why is the 1945 penny rare?

The 1945 wheat penny is considered valuable, but not necessarily rare in the numismatic sense. Its value and interest among collectors is based on several factors rather than rarity alone. Here are the main reasons why the 1945 penny is valuable:

  1. Historical Significance: The 1945 penny was minted during a pivotal year marking the end of World War II. This historical context adds to its appeal among collectors who are interested in pieces that tell a story or represent a significant period in history.
  2. Material Composition: This penny was among the coins minted using metal from brass shell casings recovered from military use. The unique composition, with 95% copper and 5% zinc, not only makes these pennies a piece of history but also contributes to their durability and distinct appearance.
  3. Condition and Mint Marks: While millions of 1945 pennies were produced, those in mint condition or with specific mint marks (D for Denver, S for San Francisco, and no mark for Philadelphia) can be more valuable. Pennies from the San Francisco Mint (1945-S), for example, are often valued higher due to their lower mintage numbers compared to those from Denver and Philadelphia.
  4. Errors and Varieties: Certain 1945 pennies with errors, such as double strikes or off-center strikes, are particularly rare and sought after. These errors can significantly increase a coin's value to collectors.
  5. Broad Appeal: The 1945 wheat penny is part of the Lincoln cent series, which has a broad appeal among collectors. The design, featuring Abraham Lincoln on the obverse and wheat ears on the reverse, is iconic and represents a significant era in American coinage.

The 1945 penny may not be rare in terms of mintage numbers, its historical significance, material composition, condition, mint marks, and the presence of errors contribute to its value among collectors. These factors make it a desirable piece for those interested in American numismatics and the history of U.S. coinage.

Discover More About Coin Values and Valuable Coins

As you can see, the 1945 penny is a prized collector's coin and the perfect place for new coin collectors to start building up collections of their own. At Bullion Shark, you can find more rare coins, like buffalo nickels and ancient coins, and learn about unique coin values through our extensive knowledge base.

Check out our selection of rare coins today!


How much is a 1945 wheat penny worth?

A standard 1945 wheat penny in circulated condition is generally worth around 10 to 20 cents. However, uncirculated examples can be worth hindreds of dollars.

Are there any rare 1945 wheat pennies?

The 1945 wheat penny itself is not considered rare since it was produced in large quantities. There are no known key varieties that significantly stand out in rarity for this year.

Can a 1945 wheat penny be valuable in high grades?

Yes, like most coins, 1945 wheat pennies are more valuable in higher grades. A 1945 penny in a mint state (uncirculated) condition, especially with a grade of MS-67 or higher, can fetch around $20 to $30.

Is there a difference in value between the 1945, 1945-D, and 1945-S wheat pennies?

The values for these mint varieties in lower grades are generally the same. However, in higher uncirculated grades, the 1945-S can sometimes command a slight premium.

What is the most I can expect to sell a 1945 wheat penny for?

In absolute top condition (MS-67 or better), a 1945 wheat penny might sell for up to $30. Exceptionally rare conditions or unique features on the coin could potentially increase its value further.

Does the metal composition affect the value of a 1945 wheat penny?

The 1945 wheat penny is made of bronze (95% copper, 5% tin and zinc). There are no variations in metal composition for this year that would affect value, unlike the 1943 steel cent.

How do I know if my 1945 wheat penny is in mint condition?

A mint condition or uncirculated 1945 wheat penny will have no signs of wear, a full original luster, and sharp, well-defined details. It should also show no signs of damage such as scratches or dents.

What factors can decrease the value of a 1945 wheat penny?

Factors include wear and tear, scratches, corrosion, and other damages. Cleaning a coin typically reduces its value significantly, as it can damage the surface and luster.

Where can I sell my 1945 wheat penny?

You can sell your coin at coin shops, coin shows, online marketplaces like eBay, or through an auction house. For higher-grade coins, consider a reputable auction where collectors might pay a premium for top-quality coins.