1944 Steel Penny Value: Why Is A 1944 Steel Penny Worth So Much (Over $1.11 Million)? - VIP Art Fair Collectibles (2023)

Around 2.1 million wheat pennies were produced in 1944, more than any other year! The iconic portrait of Abraham Lincoln and the intriguing production story of this penny makes it one of the most famous pennies that every coin collection should hold.

1944 steel wheat pennies are the rarest kind of 1944 wheat penny, and can fetch an incredibly high price at auction. Technically, these coins were errors, produced mistakenly with a combination of leftover steel blanks and repurposed copper ammunition cases.

Watch out, because the 1944 steel wheat penny has been sold for over $1.11 million! The condition of the coin, the mint mark, and any other notable errors make it one of the most valuable coins on the market.

Here, we’ll reveal more about the fascinating, accidental background of these coins. We’ll help you to positively identify a 1944 steel wheat penny, provide a valuation guide and a buying guide.

What Is The 1944 Steel Wheat Penny?

During World War II, pennies were produced using steel with a zinc coating. Copper was in short supply because it was needed for ammunitions purposes during the war. However, people complained that these pennies were not strong enough to use as regular currency because they eroded quickly.

In 1944, copper became more readily available again, so the mints began produce copper wheat pennies. However, some of the new copper was mixed in with steel blanks that were left over from production during the war. This is why it is classed as one of the 1944 wheat error pennies.

There are perhaps only 20 or 30 1944 steel cents that were minted in Philadelphia, between 7 and 10 minted in Denver, and only 2 minted in San Francisco. The rarity of these pennies in good condition is partially due to their quick deterioration compared to pure copper coins. This makes the 1944 steel wheat penny incredibly rare and hence valuable.

The only other penny which was crafted using zinc-coated steel is the 1943 Lincoln penny. But these coins are much more common as bronze was being reserved for the war and hence no pennies were manufactured using copper during this time.

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Abraham Lincoln’s portrait on the head side of the penny mean that pennies in this series are also called Lincoln pennies. Hence, when searching for this edition you may find it called the 1944 steel Lincoln penny instead.

How To Identify A 1944 Steel Wheat Penny

You might have inherited or found a 1944 wheat penny or become interested in adding this coin to your collection. Whether you want to sell it, buy it, or simply find out more you need to be able to tell if it’s the real deal or not. This will help you find out how you should price it, or whether you are paying the correct price for it. First, check the penny for the key features of a genuine 1944 wheat penny…

1. Lincoln Portrait

A genuine 1944 wheat penny will bear the portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the head (obverse) side of the coin. For this reason it is also known as the 1944 Lincoln penny.

To the right of Lincoln the year will be engraved, and to the left the word “liberty” will be engraved.

Above the portrait there is an inscription which says “in god we trust”.

2. Wheat Stalks

On the tail (reverse) side of the 1944 wheat penny there are two inscriptions which read “The United States of America” and “One Cent.”

The actual wheat stalks are positioned to the right and left sides edges of the coin. At the top of the coin the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” is inscribed.

3. Mint Mark

Genuine 1944 pennies without any mint mark were minted in the Philadelphia mint.

If you find a “D” beneath “1944” this is the mintmark of the Denver mint.

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Likewise, if you find an “S” beneath “1944”, the penny was minted at the San Francisco mint.

4. Metal Type

The overwhelming majority of 1944 pennies were made from copper (around 95%) and zinc (around 5%). There are some very rare ones which were combined with steel. You can tell whether you penny is made from copper or steel by holding a magnet to it. If the penny is moved by a magnet, it has steel content, if not it is copper.

There are even some copper versions which may bear discoloration due to traces of gunpowder which was not removed during the metal refining process from when ammunition shells were melted down to make the coins.

5. Weight And Dimensions

Another way to tell if the coin in genuine is to measure and weigh it. It should weigh 2.7 grams. Using a sensitive mini scale is useful for accurate weighing.

The 1944 wheat penny diameter is 19 millimeters across.

6. Is It A Fake?

One of the key questions which comes up surrounding the 1944 steel wheat penny is how to tell a fake penny from a genuine penny. If you have verified the correct positioning of all the inscriptions and imagery, and used a magnet to confirm the composition is partially steel, how can you tell if it’s a fake or not?

First of all, any kind of misalignment in the numbers and letters is a giveaway sign of a fake, so make sure you compare your coin to images of certified 1944 steel wheat pennies to check its authenticity.

Look out for any kind of suspicious texture such as a bubbly look, or letters and numbers which looks slightly too rounded compared to an authentic coin.

If you are still unsure, you can try posting images of your coin on forums such as Coin Community. Here, other coin enthusiasts can help you out with their expertise and advice. They may be able to help you discern a fake from a genuine.

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Otherwise you can get your coin authenticated by a Third Party Grader such as the PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service). Their site contains lots of helpful images and detailed information about different coins.

1944 Steel Wheat Penny Value

When it comes to valuing the 1944 steel wheat penny the mint mark, condition and rarity are the key factors which will dictate the overall value.

The market value of rare and collectible pennies fluctuates with changing interests and new entries to the market. Keep an eye on Coin Trackers, a site which tracks the value of different versions of coins and is updated regularly.

Here, we’ll list the average prices the 1944 steel wheat penny currently fetches from cheapest to most expensive…

ConditionAverage value
Good condition$10,000
Fine condition$50,000
Extremely fine condition$100,000
Uncirculated condition$500,000

Condition Guide

When we say good, fine, extremely fine, and uncirculated condition, what do we mean? Here’a a quick guide:

  • Good – lowest market value, heavy damage, difficult to make out the lettering and patterns
  • Fine – typically in circulation a long time but without major damage, features mostly visible, higher market value.
  • Extremely fine – close to perfect! Potentially a small flaw or scratch, but otherwise lettering and images totally clear, higher market value.
  • Uncirculated – the best of the best! Basically in mint condition with only perhaps some natural discoloration, highest market value.

Mint Mark Value

Like other wheat pennies, the value of the 1944 steel wheat penny will vary depending on the mint mark. The 1944 D steel penny in average condition can be worth $34,000, while those with no mint mark in average condition are worth around $28,000.

The 1944 S steel penny, in average condition, can be worth around $400,000. These can make megabucks, fetching over $1.11 million when in top condition! The absolute top price one of these pennies has fetched at an auction was $115,000!

Pawn Stars

The popular pawn show Pawn Stars featured a rare 1944 steel wheat penny. Take a look at this video to find out more about the history of this incredible coin, and modern valuation when sold through a public auction.

(Video) HSN | Coin Collector 10.04.2021 - 07 PM

Evaluating A Coin Yourself

It can be fairly easy to evaluate a coin yourself to get an idea of how much it is worth. This is technically called coin grading. To ascertain a coin’s market value it is important to focus on the quality of the coin – how well it was originally struck (made). Here, you can look for how well defined the inscriptions and images are. If everything can be seen clearly, and all marks including the mint mark are crisp, it means the coin is high quality. This will raise the price.

Next, you can evaluate the level of preservation. How much damage has the coin sustained over years of use? Are there signs of wearing where the words and images have been rubbed away? Are there any scratches or nicks present on the surface of the coin? A badly damaged and worn coin is lower quality and will lower the value.

Coin grading uses a 70 point scale, agreed upon and standardised by professional numismatists (coin experts). Find out more here.

1944 Wheat Penny Buying Guide

Buying rare and unusual pennies online is pretty easy as long as you know exactly what you are looking for. Ensure you thoroughly research the exact edition of the coin you would like. Equipping yourself with knowledge is the best way to identify fakes and become familiar with the key ID features of your chosen coin.

Always make sure you are buying pennies from a reputable seller. Usually reputable sellers include very detailed information and several photographs in the coin listing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out more – most coin enthusiasts are happy to share information and spread their knowledge. Also look out for valid certification in the listing from Third Party Graders like the PGCS.

Three sites you can try to buy coins from are:

  • eBay – here you can search for the exact type of coin you are looking for, and get an idea of the kinds of prices they are sold for. You can filter by certification, grade, date, price, and more!
  • PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Services) – here you can find a comprehensive list of Lincoln wheat coins, the value they have fetched so far, average market value, and current live auctions.
  • USA Coin Book – here you can find all rare and collectible coins in circulation! This link takes you to a page listing all the Lincoln Wheat Cents under year, material, and mint mark. Simply select the right coin and scroll down to see live auctions and where it can be bought.

Also Read:

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  • 1944 Quarter Value Chart (Worth As Much As $16,800)
  • 1944 Dime Value Chart (Worth As Much As $11,750 )


Why is a 1944 penny worth so much? ›

The 1944 Lincoln penny is particularly desirable in the eyes of collectors not only because of its design, but also due to its scarcity. Being that there are no more 1944 Lincolns being produced, the scarcity of these coins is constantly on the rise, thus making the coins more valuable.

Why is a 1944 steel penny worth more than a 1943 steel penny? ›

The steel cent was made in an effort to conserve bronze for World War II. But unlike the 1943 date, there is a scarce amount of 1944 steel pennies. The following Lincoln steel cents were minted in 1944: 1944 (no mintmark)

How do I know if my 1944 penny is rare? ›

Only the 1944 wheat pennies from San Francisco and Denver had a mint mark. The marks are “D” for Denver and “S” for San Francisco. They are present under the year 1944 on the obverse.

What is the most valuable 1944 steel penny? ›

1944 STEEL Wheat Penny Value

According to the NGC Price Guide, as of March 2023, a Wheat Penny from 1944 in circulated condition is worth between $35000 and $43500. However, on the open market 1944 STEEL Pennies in pristine, uncirculated condition sell for as much as $175000.

How many 1944 steel pennies are left? ›

In 1944, only 7 steel pennies are known to exist with the D mint mark. In EF 40, these coins go for a little over $30,000 while the price hits $60,000 in MS 60. Prices are slightly higher than 1944 'P' pennies (no mint mark).

What year penny is worth $1000000? ›

A 1943 Lincoln penny that soared in value because it was made from the "wrong" material reportedly has sold for $1 million. The penny was erroneously made of bronze instead of zinc-coated steel at the San Francisco Mint, according to UPI news agency.

How do I know if my 1943 steel penny is rare? ›

The easiest way to determine whether or not your 1943 Cent has collectible value—to see if it is possibly bronze rather than steel—is simply to test it with a magnet. If the coin is magnetic, then it is, unfortunately, the common steel version and is not valuable in most cases.

What makes a 1943 S steel penny rare? ›

Unfortunately, a regular 1943 steel penny is worth only a few cents. As the 1943 steel pennies circulated, the zinc coating started to turn dark gray and almost black. If it was in circulation long enough, the zinc coating completely wore off, and the steel underneath would start to show through.

Which 1943 steel penny is worth a lot of money? ›

What is the most valuable 1943 steel penny? The 1943 “D” steel penny with the D over D error has the highest record price. In 2011, it sold for around 21,000 USD with an MS 67 grade.

What to look for in a 1944 penny? ›

1944 Wheat Penny Design

The first feature to observe is the portrait of Abraham Lincoln's profile on the obverse. The year 1944 is stamped on the right side with the mint mark "D" (Denver mint) or "S (San Francisco mint) down below. The ones from Philadelphia mint bear no mint mark.

How much is a 1944 P steel penny worth? ›

1944 Steel Penny Values

A coin in average condition has an estimated value of at least $77,000. A copy in certified mint state (MS+) condition could be worth $110,000 at auction.

Will a steel penny stick to a magnet? ›

Steel penny production saved enough copper to manufacture 1.25 million shells for American big-field guns during wartime. The 1943 steel penny is the only regular American coin that a magnet can pick up.

Are all 1944 pennies made of steel? ›

Technically, the lack of tin meant that these coins were made of brass, not bronze. This was still far better than the previous year, when the War Production Board refused to let the US Mint have any copper at all, forcing them to make Lincoln cents out of zinc-coated steel.

How many 1943 steel pennies are left in the world? ›

While there is no known mintage figure for the 1943-D/D Lincoln cent, it's estimated that perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 examples may exist across all grades. Otherwise, non-error steel cents are not in themselves rare. Their value lies in their novelty.

What penny is worth $50000? ›

The 1959-D wheat penny is one of the most controversial mule coins ever. It's worth $50,000!

What year penny is worth $20000? ›

Because the letters "A" and "M" in America are so close that they touch, the 1992 Close AM penny could be worth up to $20,000.

What pennies are in a million dollars? ›

There are 100,000,000 pennies in one million dollars. To find the number of pennies in a million dollars, think first about the number of pennies in one dollar. There are 100 pennies in one dollar.

How much is a 1943 steel penny worth if it sticks to a magnet? ›

To tell if your 1943 penny is worth a mil, put a magnet over it. If it sticks to the magnet, it is steel, but still worth anywhere between 20 cents and $20.

What year is the rare steel penny? ›

1943 steel cents are U.S. one-cent coins that were struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. The Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints each produced these 1943 Lincoln cents.

What makes a steel penny rare? ›

The coin was released during World War II as a result of a shortage of copper. The 1943 wheat penny is made of steel with a coating of zinc and is considered to be very rare. In fact, only about 40,000 were ever made!

What steel penny is worth millions? ›

But a coin that was meant to be a 1943 steel wheat penny was sold for over one million dollars. A unique D 1943 copper cent was sold by Goldberg Auctioneers during a public sale in 2003 for $212,750. The same coin exchanged ownership in 2010 for $1,750,000. This PCGS-graded coin holds the highest record in sale.

Is a 1943 penny worth a million dollars? ›

Which 1943 copper penny is valuable? The all-time record price for a 1943 bronze cent is $1.7 million. This price was paid for the only known example of a 1943-D copper penny graded MS64BN by Professional Coin Grading Service.

How much is a 1944 no mint mark penny worth? ›

1944 Wheat Penny No Mint Mark

These coins are typically worth between 2-4 cents and can be worth between $1.75-$2.00 or more in uncirculated conditions depending on the marketplace and the coin.

What year steel penny is worth a lot of money? ›

Commanding exceptionally high market prices are the 1944 steel pennies. The mints produced very few coins, about 1,000; that's why they failed to dictate their actual market value. The 1944 steel penny is rarely on the market.

Is a 1943 copper penny worth $1.7 million? ›

1943 Copper Penny $1.7 Million

Goldberg Auctioneers sold a 1943 copper coin for $212,750 in 2003 during a public sale. Later in 2010, the same coin was sold for $1,750,000. The unique-D 1943 copper cent holds the record for the highest price. PCGS graded the coin as an MS64 Brown penny.

What is the value of a 1943 Canadian penny? ›

The value of a canadian coin depends on several factors such as quality and wear, supply and demand, rarity, finish and more. The melt and minimum value of a 1 cent 1943 is $0.03 CAD.

Should a 1944 wheat penny stick to a magnet? ›

If you find a copper 1943 or steel 1944 penny, do two things: Test the coin with a magnet. Real steel coins will stick; coated coins will not.

What is the rarest penny? ›

Let's start with the most valuable pennies minted in the USA.
  • S Lincoln Penny – $105,800. ...
  • 1944-D Lincoln Penny on a Zinc-Coated Steel Planchet – $115,000. ...
  • 1909-S VDB Lincoln Penny. ...
  • 1872 Indian Head Penny – $126,500. ...
  • 1969-S Lincoln Penny–Doubled Die Obverse – $126,500. ...
  • 1926-S Lincoln Penny – $149,500.
Feb 16, 2023

Can a magnet attract a coin? ›

Coins are attracted to a bar magnet as they contain nickel.

Do magnets attract all coins? ›

Since 1992, coins have been made with steel, which is magnetic. (Pre-1992 coins are made out of bronze, which will not attract.)

Do magnets stick to all steel? ›

The two main types are austenitic and ferritic, each of which exhibits a different atomic arrangement. Due to this difference, ferritic stainless steels are generally magnetic while austenitic stainless steels usually are not.

Will a magnet stick to a 1944 penny? ›

If you find a copper 1943 or steel 1944 penny, do two things: Test the coin with a magnet. Real steel coins will stick; coated coins will not. If your 1944 steel penny doesn't attach itself to the magnet, it's likely a copper penny coated in a thin layer of steel and is not real steel all the way through.

What is the rarest wheat penny? ›

“There are millions and millions of wheat pennies and most commonly they trade for three-to-five cents a piece. If you're looking for a particular date, it can be much, much more than that. The rarest is the 1909 VDB.

Is a 1945 penny worth $85,000? ›

The value of a 1945 wheat penny depends on its condition and whether it's the rare “steel” variety. A well-circulated coin could be worth only a few cents, while a pristine steel penny could fetch up to $85,000.

Will a magnet pick up a 1944 steel penny? ›

If you find a copper 1943 or steel 1944 penny, do two things: Test the coin with a magnet. Real steel coins will stick; coated coins will not.

Will a magnet pick up a steel penny? ›

The 1943 steel penny is the only regular American coin that a magnet can pick up.

Should a steel penny stick to a magnet? ›

The easiest way to determine if a 1943 cent is made of steel, and not copper, is to use a magnet. If it sticks to the magnet, it is not copper. If it does not stick, the coin might be of copper and should be authenticated by an expert.

What are the 15 most valuable pennies? ›

Rare Pennies
  • 1914-S Lincoln Penny.
  • 1944-D Lincoln Penny (Zinc-coated steel)
  • 1909-S VDB Lincoln Penny.
  • 1872 Indian Head Penny.
  • 1969-S Lincoln Penny-Doubled Die Obverse.
  • 1926-S Lincoln Penny.
  • 1877 Indian Head Penny.
  • 1914-D Lincoln Penny.
Sep 17, 2022

Which steel penny is rare? ›

The 1943 wheat penny is made of steel with a coating of zinc and is considered to be very rare. In fact, only about 40,000 were ever made! The coin gets its name from the fact that the reverse (tails side) features an image of wheat stalks. The wheat penny was minted for only one year and is now a collector's item.

What penny is worth $10000? ›

You Could Find This Rare Penny In Your Pocket Change - Here's What To Look For. Someone found a 1982 copper penny worth more than $10,000 -- and you could too! Here's everything you want to know about the 1982 D penny - and how to find a 1982 small date penny.

What penny is worth $85000? ›

More From Good Housekeeping. Whoever didn't get that no-copper memo in 1943 is now responsible for creating some of the most valuable coins in all of history. While a 1943 penny in "good" condition could earn you around $60,000, coin connoisseurs might pay upwards of $85,000 for the coin if it's in mint-condition.

How much is a 1944 D penny worth? ›

Only 430,578,000 units were made. The 1944 D wheat penny ranges between $0.02 and $0.89. It is worth $0.04 in extremely fine circulated condition and $0.89 in uncirculated condition. The Denver Mint made an error and punched an S into the D.

How much is a 1944 and 1945 penny worth? ›

The mintage for this coin was low, at just over 1 million coins struck. Today, the 1944 Wheat Penny No Mint Mark is worth around $85 in circulated condition. In mint state condition, the value jumps to over $3,000! The coin without a mint mark was produced at the Philadelphia Mint.


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