9 Most Valuable Pennies and What They're Worth

9 Most Valuable Pennies and What They're Worth

Posted by Bullion Shark on Feb 28th 2024

9 Most Valuable Pennies

People who don’t collect valuable pennies often think of them as little more than a nuisance and coins that have so little value many smaller shops will allow customers to leave or take a penny if they need it to make exact change for a transaction. 

But collecting pennies, especially those of the popular Lincoln variety, has long been one of the favorite pursuits of coin collectors, who know that there are a lot of pennies worth money. Some pennies – the ones dedicated collectors of the Lincoln series look for in the best condition possible if they can afford it – are even worth big bucks -- as much as a million dollars or more!

The following information discusses which Lincoln pennies are the established key date coins of the series according to the consensus of experts on this series about which coins are the most widely demanded issues and how much those rare and valuable pennies are worth in the current market. It mostly does not discuss error and variety coins except for a handful of issues that are especially important and form important parts of the history of the Lincoln cent series. 

1943 Bronze Penny

  • At the time, cents were being struck from steel because copper and zinc were needed for the war effort, which is why those pennies of this date made instead of copper or bronze are very rare and valuable. It is estimated that no more than 40 bronze alloy cents were accidentally made because they happened to already be in the hopper when steel pennies were being produced. These very rare cents with no more than 15 of the original 40 confirmed to still exist are each worth 1 million or more. In 2010 a unique 1943-D bronze cent was sold for $1.7 million at auction. Today experts estimate this coin to be worth $2.2 million.

1944 Steel Penny

  • By 1944, the Mint had returned to striking pennies in copper instead of steel, so these ones dated 1944 made of steel are very rare and worth a lot of money. These very rare off-metal strikes are believed to have been made when some steel planchets from 1943 were accidentally struck with the 1944 date. It is estimated that 25-30 are known to still exist and are worth from $90,000 in MS63 to about half a million for the two known 1944-S coins in MS65.

1955 Doubled Die Penny

  • By far the most famous and well-known error of the series that features what is widely viewed as the most dramatic doubling on a coin, it was created when a working die and hub that were each slightly rotated struck around 20,000 pennies. The Mint decided it was too much trouble to try to find them all and melt them, so most of them eventually turned up in circulation. Few people were aware of them when they began showing up in change, but once they were popularized, collectors began saving them. Most are in AU condition or better. They are worth $2-3,000 in AU to as much as $125,000 in the top grade of MS65 Red.

1922 No D Penny

  • These coins are the only pennies that lack their intended mint mark. Due to a fire at the Philadelphia Mint that year, no pennies were made there, so they had to be made in Denver. They were made when a pair of dies clashed without a coin between them, and then a Mint employee is believed to have found an old obverse die that they tried to improve by hand, which ended up filing off the “D”. Or some foreign material might have gotten stuck where the mint mark should have been. These coins are worth a lot even in lower circulated grades and $2,000 in AU, $20,000 MS63 Brown and as much as $60,000 for red examples at the same grade and even more in the top grade of MS65.
  • A second version of this coin has a weak “D” rather than a completely missing one and is worth at least $1,000 in mint state.

1909-S VDB Penny

  • Arguably the most famous and most popular Lincoln penny, these first year of issue coins are considered the most important key date of the series. It is not one of the scarcest issues with 484,000 struck and is widely available, especially in mint state. But because of the controversy that surrounded the coin designer’s use of his initials on the coin, it remains in demand to this time. This coin is worth at least $1,000 in low grades to as much as $140,000 in the top grade of MS67 Red. A nice MS63 coin runs about $2,500-3,000. Because this is such a high-profile coin beware of counterfeit examples that may have been made by adding an “S” to a much more common 1909 Philadelphia coin.

1931-S Penny

  • The second- lowest mintage issue of the series that was struck in such low numbers a result of the reduced demand for coins during the Great Depression, this coin is a major key date with only 866,000 struck and is always highly sought. The coin was held back by the Treasury after its release and made available later to collectors at face value, which is why so many were saved in mint state. Though scarcer in worn grades, it is only worth $110 in XF and mint state examples that are in demand are worth $250-$1,000 in MS63 to MS65 depending on color.

1914-D Penny

  • This is another low-mintage that was not well known at the time it was issued, so it has a very low survival rate. High grade examples were not saved and are very scarce today. In VF30 it is over $400. In XF40 it runs $800, $2,500 in MS60, at least $5,000 in MS64, at least $7,000 in MS65 and reaches all the way to $185,000 in MS66 Red because there are so few top graded mint state specimens.

 1914-S Penny

  • Another date that is scarce in all grades. It is thought that by this year the popularity of the new pennies had started to wear off, resulting in fewer examples being saved, especially in mint state grades. Today it is worth $335 in MS60, $675 in MS63 and $2,000 in MS65. Top grade examples command $85,000 in MS66.

1909-S Penny

  • Scarce in all grades, these are the 1909 coins struck after the controversy about Victor David Brenner’s initials appearing on the coin led to the removal of those initials of the designer. They have always been overshadowed by the uber-popular 1909-S VDB coin. By the 1930s, when coin collecting, especially of this popular coin, got a boost from the release of the first coin albums, this coin began to attract the attention of collectors who found them in circulation. Mint state coins are naturally very rare. This issue is worth $185 in XF40, $340 in MS60, $425 to $600 in MS63 depending on the color, at least $500 in MS64 and $850 to $2,250 in MS65. The very top graded examples at MS67 of which PCGS has only graded 2 are worth $40,000 each.


Q. David Bowers, A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents (Whitman, 2018)


How does the condition of a penny, such as color or signs of wear, impact its value, especially for coins like the 1922 No D and the 1909-S VDB?

The condition of a penny significantly impacts its value, with color and signs of wear being critical factors. For valuable coins like the 1922 No D and the 1909-S VDB, a coin's grade, which includes its level of preservation and appearance, can dramatically affect its market value. Coins in mint state with original luster and no signs of wear are highly prized. The color of a penny, ranging from brown to full red, also plays a crucial role, especially for collectors seeking pieces in top condition. Full red pennies, indicating minimal oxidation and retaining their original copper color, are often valued higher than those with brown or red-brown tones, which show more signs of aging.

Are there specific storage or preservation methods recommended for maintaining the value of these valuable pennies?

To preserve the value of these valuable pennies, specific storage and preservation methods are recommended. Collectors are advised to handle coins carefully, preferably by their edges, to avoid transferring oils from fingers onto the coin's surface. Storing coins in a cool, dry environment is crucial to prevent corrosion or tarnishing. For individual coins, using acid-free holders, such as mylar flips or airtight capsules, provides both protection and visibility. For long-term storage, climate-controlled environments can prevent environmental damage. Regularly inspecting the collection and avoiding unnecessary handling can also help maintain the coins' condition.

How can collectors verify the authenticity of high-value pennies like the 1943 Bronze or 1944 Steel Wheat Penny to avoid counterfeit coins?

Verifying the authenticity of high-value pennies like the 1943 Bronze or 1944 Steel Wheat Penny involves a few steps to ensure collectors avoid counterfeit coins. Firstly, consulting with a reputable numismatist or a professional coin grading service such as PCGS or NGC can provide expert authentication services. These organizations have the expertise and equipment to accurately assess a coin's authenticity. Additionally, knowing the specific weight and magnetic properties of the coin can be a straightforward method to verify its composition; for example, genuine 1943 steel pennies should be magnetic due to their steel content, unlike counterfeit versions made from copper. Collectors might also consider investing in a high-quality magnifying tool to inspect the coin's details, looking for inconsistencies or anomalies that could indicate a counterfeit.

Continue reading:

Susan B Anthony Coin Value and Prices

9 of the Most Valuable State Quarter Errors Worth Money

2024 American Women Quarters