1909 s lincoln cent obverse
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The 11 Most Valuable Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Welcome to the fascinating world of Lincoln wheat pennies! These small pieces of history not only served as everyday currency but also tell a story of a nation’s journey through war and peace. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a curious newcomer, the allure of these coins is undeniable. But did you know that some of these humble pennies could be worth a fortune? In this article, we delve into the intriguing details of these coins, from their unique composition to their potential value. We’ll explore why the most valuable pennies are worth so much and how you can determine the coin value of your own collection. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey right away – because every second counts when it comes to discovering a hidden treasure in your change!

1909 s lincoln cent obverse
1909 s lincoln cent reverse

Most Valuable Wheat Pennies

1. 1909-S ($105-$425+)

AUCTION RECORD: $1,680

This coin has no initials on the reverse, but still has the S mint mark. Only 1,825,000 were made. The highest auction sold price for this coin is $1,680 for an UNC Details grade coin sold at Stack’s Bowers on April 12, 2023.

2. 1909-S V.D.B. ($750-$9,000+)

AUCTION RECORD: $10,000

This coin has the initials of the designer Victor D. Brenner on the reverse and the mint mark S for San Francisco. Only 484,000 were made. The highest auction sold price for this coin is $10,000 for a MS66BN grade coin sold on eBay on December 7, 2022.

3. 1914-D ($240-$3,600+)

AUCTION RECORD: $16,100

This coin has the mint mark D for Denver on the obverse. Only 1,193,000 were made. It is often counterfeited or altered, so it is best to buy certified coins. The highest auction sold price for this coin is $16,100 for a MS66 grade coin sold at Stack’s on July 10, 2008.

4. 1922 no mint mark ($725-$27,500+)

AUCTION RECORD: $57,500

This coin is a result of a die error that erased the D mint mark. Only a few thousand exist. The highest auction sold price for this coin is $57,500 for a MS64 grade coin sold at Bowers & Merena on April 1, 2008.

5. 1931-S ($110-$225+)

AUCTION RECORD: $18,600

This coin has the S mint mark and a low mintage of 866,000. The highest auction sold price for this coin is $18,600 for a MS66+RD grade coin sold at Heritage Auctions on June 20, 2021.

6. 1955 Doubled-Die ($950-$3,250+)

AUCTION RECORD: $32,400

This coin has a noticeable doubling of the date and lettering on the obverse due to a misaligned die. About 24,000 were made. The highest auction sold price for this coin is $32,400 for a MS65RB grade coin sold at Stack’s Bowers on March 25, 2020.

7. 1943 D Bronze MS64BN ($1,700,000)

AUCTION RECORD: $1,700,000

This is the most valuable wheat penny ever sold. It is a unique error coin that was struck on a bronze planchet instead of a steel one. It was discovered by a teenager in 1976 and sold privately in 2010 to an anonymous buyer.

8. 1943 Bronze MS63RD ($1,000,000+)

AUCTION RECORD: $1,000,000

This is another rare error coin that was struck on a bronze planchet instead of a steel one. It has a reddish-brown color and is the only known example of its kind. It was sold privately in 2018 to Bob Simpson, a Texas billionaire and coin collector.

9. 1943 S Bronze MS63BN ($504,000)

AUCTION RECORD: $504,000

This is the third rarest error coin that was struck on a bronze planchet instead of a steel one. It has a brown color and is one of only four known examples of its kind. It was sold at auction in 2019 by Heritage Auctions.

10. 1944 S Steel MS66 ($408,000)

AUCTION RECORD: $408,000

This is a rare error coin that was struck on a steel planchet instead of a copper one. It is one of only two known examples of its kind. The 1944 steel wheat penny was sold at auction in 2008 by Heritage Auctions.

11. 1958 Doubled Die Obverse (DDO) MS65 Red ($1,136,250)

AUCTION RECORD: $1,136,250

This is one of the mega-rarities of the 20th century. The 1958 DDO is a rare error coin that was struck with a doubled die, resulting in a visible doubling of the date and lettering on the obverse of the coin. There are only three known examples of this coin. On January 22, 2023, a PCGS MS65 Red example was sold by GreatCollections Auctions, realizing $1,136,250 with the buyer’s premium. At the time, this was a world record price for a 1958 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent. Another notable auction record for this coin is $336,000 for an MS64RD example sold on March 21, 2018, by Stack’s Bowers.

Valuable Wheat Pennies Chart

CoinGood (G-4)Very Fine (VF-20)Extremely Fine (EF-40)About Uncirculated (AU-50)Uncirculated (MS-60)Uncirculated (MS-63)Uncirculated (MS-65)
1909-S V.D.B.$700-$800$1,000-$1,100$1,200-$1,300$1,400-$1,600$1,800-$2,000$2,000-$2,500$6,000-$10,000
1909-S$90-$100$140-$150$160-$180$250-$260$400-$410$450-$465$1,000-$1,500
1914-D$170-$200$280-$300$700-$740$1,600-$1,630$2,500-$2,600$3,300-$3,400$8,000-$10,000
1922 no mint mark$475-$520$750-$800$1,750-$1,800$4,000-$4,500$10,000-$11,000$18,000-$19,000$40,000-$50,000
1931-S$75-$85$100-$110$140-$150$160-$170$200-$210$230-$240$400-$500
1955 Doubled-Die$1,000-$1,100$1,250-$1,350$1,500-$1,600$2,000-$2,200$4,500-$5,000$10,000-$11,000$25,000-$30,000
1943 Bronze/Copper$40,000-$60,000$60,000-$80,000$80,000-$100,000$100,000-$150,000$150,000-$200,000$200,000-$300,000$300,000-$400,000
1944 S Steel$100,000-$150,000$200,000-$250,000$300,000-$350,000$400,000-$450,000$500,000-$550,000$600,000-$650,000$800,000-$900,000
valuable wheat pennies chart

Valuable Wheat Pennies Years & Key Dates

Valuable Wheat Pennies Timeline

Some wheat pennies from specific years are particularly valuable due to their rarity or unique features:

  • 1914-D: This penny is rare because of its low mintage. The “D” indicates it was minted in Denver.
  • 1922 No Mint Mark: This penny is unique because it lacks a mint mark, a result of a mint error. It’s known as the “plain” 1922 wheat penny.
  • 1931-S: The “S” stands for the San Francisco mint. This penny is valuable due to its low mintage.

Wheat pennies from the 1930’s and earlier are generally more scarce and desirable than later dates, especially in high grades. Conversely, those from the 1940’s and 50’s are more common and less valuable, but they can still be worth more than face value in good condition.

Composition of Lincoln Wheat Pennies

The composition of wheat pennies has changed over the years due to various factors, including the availability of metals and the economic conditions of the time. When the wheat penny was first introduced in 1909, it was made from an alloy of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. This composition gave the coins their distinctive reddish color and made them durable enough for everyday use.

However, during World War II, copper became a critical war material, needed for making shell casings, wiring, and other military equipment. To conserve copper for the war effort, the U.S. Mint decided to change the composition of the penny in 1943. For that year only, pennies were made from zinc-coated steel, giving them a silver color. These steel pennies are magnetic, unlike other U.S. coins, and are a unique part of U.S. coinage history.

After the war ended, the U.S. Mint returned to using a copper alloy for pennies, but with a slight change. The new alloy, used from 1944 to 1982, was 95% copper and 5% zinc, with no tin. This change was made because tin was also a critical war material and was in short supply even after the war ended.

Importance of Coin Certification

Coin certification is an essential aspect of coin collecting and investing, especially when dealing with valuable coins like wheat pennies. A certified coin has been examined and graded by a professional coin grading service, such as the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). These organizations employ expert numismatists who evaluate coins based on their condition, authenticity, and other factors.

When a coin is certified, it is encapsulated in a protective plastic holder, often referred to as a “slab,” to protect it from damage. The slab also contains a label that provides information about the coin, including its grade, the name of the grading service, and other relevant details.

There are several benefits to buying certified coins. First, certification provides assurance that the coin is authentic and has not been altered or tampered with. This is particularly important when buying valuable or rare coins, as counterfeits are unfortunately common in the coin market.

Second, certified coins are graded on a standardized scale, which provides a clear, objective assessment of their condition. This can be very helpful when buying or selling coins, as it allows for more accurate pricing and reduces the risk of overpaying or underselling.

Finally, certified coins are generally more liquid and easier to sell than uncertified coins. This is because the certification provides buyers with confidence in the coin’s authenticity and grade, making them more willing to purchase the coin.

Conclusion

Wheat pennies offer a rich history and the potential for significant value. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting, understanding the worth of these coins can enhance your collecting experience. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and enjoy the journey through the world of wheat pennies!

In 1959, the reverse design of the penny was changed to the Lincoln Memorial, a design created by Frank Gasparro. However, the wheat pennies remain a favorite among collectors for their historical significance and potential value. Once you have a grasp on their worth, you might want to consider selling coins online to reap the benefits of your investment.

FAQ

Which wheat penny is worth money?

All wheat pennies have some value, typically ranging from a few cents to several dollars for common dates in well-circulated grades. However, certain key dates and varieties, such as the 1909-S V.D.B., 1914-D, and 1922 no mint mark, can be worth significant money even in lower grades. Condition, rarity, and demand from collectors all factor into a wheat penny’s value.

What wheat pennies are worth $1,000,000?

While it’s rare for a wheat penny to reach a value of $1,000,000, it’s not impossible. The 1943 copper-alloy cent is one of the most enigmatic coins in American numismatics — and reportedly the most valuable Lincoln penny of all. Only a few of these pennies were ever minted and they can be worth up to several million dollars.

Why is the 1944 wheat penny rare?

The 1944 wheat penny is not typically considered rare as over 2 billion were minted. However, the 1944 steel wheat penny is extremely rare. During 1944, pennies returned to their pre-war composition of 95% copper due to the cessation of wartime steel penny production. If a steel planchet from 1943 found its way into the coining presses in 1944, a 1944 steel penny could be minted. These are considered highly rare and valuable.

Which wheat penny is the most valuable?

The most valuable wheat penny is the 1943-S copper cent. Only a few of these pennies were mistakenly minted on bronze planchets, making them extremely rare. In 2012, a 1943-S bronze cent in superb condition sold for a record $1 million. Other valuable wheat pennies include the 1909-S V.D.B., 1914-D, and 1922 no mint mark.

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