Most of us take a penny for granted, valuing it for just a few cents, and would never wonder what the most valuable pennies cost. While it’s true that most of them have the lowest value of all coins ever produced, there are some rare coins that could be worth a small fortune. These little pieces of copper represent the lowest monetary denomination in coinage, but certain years and production runs are rare and extremely valuable.
Coin values are one of the reasons why coin collectors do what they do. These individuals exert time and effort to own and keep different types of pennies – from Lincoln wheat pennies and Indian head pennies to bronze pennies from the Philadelphia mint and United States mint. A coin dealer takes this route for two reasons: as an investment and for their personal enjoyment.
Here are the ten most expensive pennies that have ever been sold at auction.
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10. 914-S Lincoln Penny – $105,800
Unlike most pennies presented in this article, the 1914-S Lincoln Penny isn’t that valuable. The San Francisco Mint produced about four million of these coins. What makes this coin valuable is its pristine condition despite being more than 100 years old. The coin doesn’t show any noticeable bag mark on its surface and has retained its original red-orange copper color.
According to experts, for this coin to survive this long, it is believed that a coin collector in San Francisco back in 1914 must have kept it before it could become tattered or worn during circulation. The person who kept the coin for decades also ensured that the 1914-S Lincoln Penny was stored correctly to preserve its original color.
9. 1872 Indian Head Penny – $126,500
Although considered a scarce coin, the Indian Head Penny can be readily found in coin dealers or coin shows in circulated grades. More than 4 million of these coins were minted. But the financial hardship during that time (including the economic turndown caused by the “Panic of 1873” and the civil war with the United States in 1864) meant that only a very few people were able to save these coins for safekeeping and their collections. This resulted in these pennies going into circulation.
Another thing that makes the 1872 Indian Head Penny rare is its exceptional condition, which showcases an almost flawless coin with a sharp strike. This coin was also well-preserved to retain its original red-copper color.
8. 1877 Indian Head Penny – $149,500
Sold in August 2007 at Heritage Auctions for $149,500, the 1877 Indian Head Penny is the rarest Indian head pennies ever minted. The story behind this penny goes back to 1877. The economic slump that started on 1873 continued until 1877 but this time, with full force. As a result, the demand for United States coinage was at an all-time low and families struggled a lot to make ends meet. Due to this reason, Americans wouldn’t even save a penny to start their own coin collection.
The 1877 Indian Head Penny has a smaller mintage but most of them were saved in uncirculated condition. Being able to hold, collect, or keep an 1877 Indian Head Penny in an uncirculated condition is considered extremely rare given the poor economic conditions that year. Having one in its original copper-red color makes it extraordinary.
7. 1856 Flying Eagle Penny – $172,500
If you come into possession of a Flying Eagle Cent that is marked with an 1856 date, it’s considered one of the most valuable pennies in the world. One of these coins was sold in Orlando, Florida through Heritage Auctions. The sale took place in January of 2004 for a whopping $172,500. The coin was in uncirculated condition, which made it extremely rare.
Prior to this year of production, the size of the pennies made was equal to the size of a modern mint of the half-dollar. The amount of copper that was being used was worth more than a cent because the price of copper as a commodity was high at the time. It was in 1856 that the United States Mint reduced the size of the pennies being made to the diameter that we’re familiar with currently. 1856 represents the first smaller-sized coins made.
6. 1909 VDB Proof Lincoln Penny – $258,500
In August of 2014, a very special 1909 Lincoln Penny was sold in Chicago, Illinois through Heritage Auctions. This rare coin was sold for an amazing $258,500. The penny was in uncirculated condition and featured rainbow toning with red and brown coloring. The reason for the VDB on the coin is that Lincoln Pennies were first made in 1909 with the new design and the designer added his initials to the coin at the bottom of the tails side. This was a departure from the tradition of just using one of the initials. This extremely rare coin is from a limited run of just 1,194 that was ever produced. Finding one in the uncirculated condition is very hard to do.
5. 1943-S Lincoln Penny made of Bronze – $282,000
In February of 2016, a Lincoln Penny dated 1943-S which was made on bronze was sold in Long Beach, California through Heritage Auctions for an amazing price of $282,000. While most of the pennies made at this time were struck on zinc plated steel, this coin was struck on a bronze planchet which at the time, was an error. That mistake was made in 1943 at the San Francisco mint and only a handful of these bronzed pennies have been discovered (six to be exact). These factors make this a very rare and valuable penny indeed.
4. 1958 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Penny – About $336,000
The 1958 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Penny is one of the most valuable pennies in the world, considered as the holy grail by many coin collectors. This coin was sold in March 2018 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction for $336,000. This amount was an all-time record for the 1958 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Penny.
This coin came to existence due to an error involving a double stamping (thus, the name) that affected the lettering on the front of the penny. Only three of these Lincoln pennies are known to exist, including one in great condition sold in 2018.
3. 1944-S Lincoln Steel Penny – $373,750
A 1944-S Lincoln penny was sold in August of 2008 in Baltimore, Maryland by Heritage Auctions for $373,750. The coin was in uncirculated condition and was struck on a zinc-plated steel planchet. This rare coin was part of a production run that was supposed to be made of an alloy of 5% tin and 95% copper.
However,for some reason, this wasn’t caught until a few had been produced (hence it becoming one of the most valuable coins.) It’s a rare coin that was part of a minting error. It fetched a pretty penny for the owner who sold it to a lucky coin collector.
2. 1793 Strawberry Leaf Cent – About $862,500
The 1793 Strawberry Leaf Cent is a large cent sold at an auction for $863,000. The front of the coin shows Lady Liberty wearing a modest cap and the back displays a wreath.
This coin was first seen in 1890 in an auction when Lorin G. Parmelee, a famed collector sold it for $79. From there, the coin was passed through countless collectors through private transactions for the next 109 years. Stack’s Bowers Galleries first auctioned the coin in December 2004 for $414,000 and then in January 2009 for $862,500. The two sales set new record prices for a one-cent coin sold at auctions.
1. 1943-D type Lincoln Bronze Penny – $1.7 million
The most expensive penny that has ever been sold at auction is a 1943-D Lincoln penny. It had been struck on a bronze planchet and was in uncirculated condition. It was sold in a private sale in September of 2010. The penny went for an unbelievable price of $1,700,000 through Legend Numismatics.
The penny was created on a bronze alloy. It was supposed to be struck on the zinc plated steel. It’s believed that some pennies from production in 1942 accidentally got into the line in San Francisco and Philadelphia mints.
There have been around 20 examples found from these locations. However, only one is known to exist from the Denver mint. This is one of the factors that makes it so highly valuable. There isn’t another one like it known to exist in the world.
Who would have believed that a single Lincoln penny could actually be valued at nearly 2 million dollars? It pays to check the dates on those pennies every now and then.
What penny is worth 50k? ›
The 1959-D wheat penny is one of the most controversial mule coins ever. It's worth $50,000!Which pennies are worth $1000? ›
The coin in question is a penny from 1909. The media could not be played. If you find a 1909 penny with an S on the front and the letters VDB on the back at the bottom, it could be worth nearly $1,000.Why is a 1982 penny worth $10000? ›
So for the past 30 years, pennies have been made with an alloy comprised of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, but pennies minted before 1982 are 95% copper and 5% zinc. The price of copper has more than quadrupled over the past 10 years.What is the most wanted penny? ›
The 1943 copper-alloy cent is one of the most enigmatic coins in American numismatics — and reportedly the most valuable Lincoln penny of all.What penny is worth $1 million? ›
Simpson, co-chairman of the Texas Rangers baseball club, paid $1 million for the finest known 1943-S Lincoln Wheat cent on a bronze planchet. All 1943 Lincoln cents were supposed to be made of steel planchets coated with zinc.What penny is worth a million dollars? ›
Why Is the 1943 Penny Worth $1 000 000? The 1943 penny is worth $1 000 000 because it is not made of steel. In 1943, the US Mint switched from copper to steel to make pennies. However, the mints accidentally made a few pennies with bronze planchets instead of steel planchets coated with zinc.What penny is worth $300000? ›
The 1943 bronze Lincoln cent is considered to be the most famous error coin made by the U.S. Mint and could be worth more than $300,000.What penny is worth $25000? ›
Here's a list of the top 10 most valuable pennies for 2023: 1) 1944 Steel Wheat Penny - $408,000. 2) 1943 Copper Wheat Penny - $250,000. 3) 1856 Flying Eagle Penny - $25,000.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.Is a 1983 penny worth $7,000? ›
A $7,000 penny could be hiding in your pocket—here's how to identify it. You may want to think twice before tossing out your loose change — one of your pennies could be worth $7,000. That's if you have a 1983 Lincoln penny, says Blake Alma, whose “CoinHub” TikTok account has over 850,000 followers.
Is a 1974 penny worth $2 million? ›
Eric said the penny in question is worth an estimated $2million. However, despite its high value, the penny is technically illegal to own as it's considered to be government property. Federal authorities haven't been in a hurry to confiscate them, according to Coinworld, but it's important for sellers to know.Why is the 1999 penny worth so much? ›
It's from 1999 and could be worth $4,500 thanks to a little-known error on it. What you want to look for is a 1999 penny with no mint mark, which means no letter under the year on the heads side.What are the top 15 most valuable 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.
The value of a 1943 steel penny depends largely on its condition, but even a 1943, 1943-S, and 1943-D are normally only worth a couple of dollars in very fine condition at the least, they are worth between 10-15 cents.Is a 1947 penny worth $1.7 million? ›
Extremely Rare Coin Discovered in a High Schooler's Lunch Money in 1947 Now Worth $1.7 Million. A rare coin found by a high schooler in his lunch money has been valued at almost $1.7million, following the owner's death.How much is a 1985 zinc penny worth? ›
In addition, the 1985 pennies from Denver were also struck from a cheap copper-zinc alloy, making them not worth much beyond their face value in circulated condition. In general, circulated condition, the 1985-D penny is worth about $0.05.How much is a zinc 1982 penny? ›
You'll pay around 0.30 USD for the 1982 “D” zinc penny with a big date. The 1982 “D” zinc penny with a small date and an MS of at least 60 costs around 0.20 USD. Remember, the price is low because these coins are common.What makes a 1964 penny rare? ›
A 1964 D penny is considered rare for a few reasons. First, only about 1% of all pennies minted in 1964 were of the D-mint variety. Second, the Denver Mint, where the D pennies were made, had a higher-than-average number of coins rejected due to quality control issues.Who has the largest penny collection? ›
SLATON, TX -- A Texas man who saved his pennies for decades has finally turned them in for cash. Ira Keys has been saving his pennies for the past 65 years. The 81-year-old man said he's just been following the advice his father gave him when he was a teenager.Why is the 1944 penny rare? ›
1944 wheat pennies were only made of copper and zinc from 1944 to 1946 due to a supply shortage of tin. Within the tin element in the composition of this metal, these coins were brass, not bronze.
What penny is worth $3000? ›
A RARE Lincoln penny from 1922 has sold for nearly $3,000 online – meaning you would be quite fortunate to have a coin like this one lying around. If you look closely, you'll noti…What penny is worth $200000? ›
Rare 1943 penny sells for over $200,000
A rare copper penny that a Massachusetts man found in his lunch money more than 70 years ago has been auctioned for more than $200,000. The 1943 penny is one of 20 that were accidentally minted when the federal government was trying to conserve copper for World War II.
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.What is 5 million times a penny? ›
As each penny is $0.01, we need 100 pennies to equal a single dollar. This means we can find our answer by dividing 5 million by 100 to convert 5 million pennies to dollars. This means that we have $50,000 U.S. dollars when we have 5 million U.S. pennies.How long would it take to count 1 million dollars in pennies? ›
If one could count one penny each second, it would take approximately 11.574 days (or 11 days and about 14 hours) to count one million pennies.Is a 1944 wheat penny worth a million dollars? ›
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.
These coins values are based on when they were issued into circulation – and some are worth over $400,000. According to the website, the most valuable coin is the 1944 Steel Wheat Penny, which were actually created by mistake. These coins are rare and only a handful are known to exist.What penny is worth $300? ›
Yes! Ultimate Guide To 1999 Penny Values (Including The 1999 Penny Error/1999 Wide AM Penny) There's a rare 1999 penny error that is worth hundreds of dollars and you could find it in your pocket change!Why is the 1992 d penny worth so Much? ›
What Makes This Penny so Special? In the 1990s and early 2000s, the United States Mint used different dies for producing coins for circulation and Proof coins for collectors. Due to a mix-up at the mint back in 1992, a proof die was used for the reverse of the coin before it was supposed to be used starting in 1993.What is a valuable 1993 penny? ›
|1993 Lincoln Penny value (proof)|
|Condition||1993 S red DCAM cent|
What year of penny is worth keeping? ›
It turns out all pennies with a date of 1981 or earlier were made from nearly pure copper, which means they are actually worth three times their face value - three cents.What is a 1943 zinc penny worth? ›
They are worth about 10 to 13 cents each in circulated condition and as much as 50 cents or more if uncirculated.What pennies are collectors looking for? ›
- 1943 Bronze Lincoln. (Image: Heritage Auctions, HA.com) ...
- 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse. ...
- 1992 Close AM Reverse. ...
- 1972 Doubled Die Obverse. ...
- 1995 Doubled Die Obverse. ...
- 1999 Wide AM Reverse. ...
- 1983 Double Die Reverse.
The finest brown 1983 D penny graded by the PCGS is at MS66. And it's valued at just $5. In mint state, the 1983 D penny is also common in grades up to MS67. At MS67, a red coin is valued at $35.What is a rare 1983 D penny? ›
There's a rare 1983 copper penny (a 1983-D penny) worth $15,000 -- you could find one in your pocket change!Is a penny from 1973 worth anything? ›
Ordinary 1973 pennies are only worth a cent or two.Why is the 1972 penny worth so much? ›
The San Francisco mint had the lowest penny mintage in 1972, with only 376,939,108 struck pieces. Therefore, you can expect well-preserved coins in high grades to cost more than coins from the other two mints.What makes a 1970 penny rare? ›
What makes a 1970 Lincoln penny rare? The 1970 Lincoln penny is not rare, but variations with a small date or coins with a DDO error can be scarce, particularly in high grades.How much is a 1974 D steel penny worth? ›
The 1974 “D” Penny
If your 1974 “D” penny falls below the uncirculated grade, it will only sell for its face value of 0.01 USD. Otherwise, it will sell for at least 1 USD in the mint state.
The San Francisco mint produced two 1999 S Lincoln Memorial penny varieties, with closed and widely spaced letters A and M in the word AMERICA. The penny with nearly touching A and M is the more pricey, highly collectible, and typically cost about $100.
How rare is a 1992 Close AM penny? ›
The 1992 Close AM examples struck at the Denver Mint are also considered very scarce and there is only about a dozen examples known for this variety.How much is a 1943 steel penny worth with no mint mark? ›
The 1943 Steel Penny without a Mint Mark
The coin can sell for around 0.15 USD when in a good state. Expect the value to rise to 0.35 USD in fine grade, 0.48 USD in extremely fine form, and sell at 1.50 USD in the uncirculated grade.
The U.S. made about 7.7 billion pennies in 1983, but only about 5,000 of them are known to have been made with this doubling error, James McCartney, director of numismatics at Stack's Bowers Galleries, tells CNBC Make It. The rarity of these misprinted pennies are what make them more valuable than ordinary pennies.Why is the 1961 D penny worth so much? ›
Since Lincoln Memorial pennies minted in 1961 are made of pricey copper, all are worth far more than their face value, regardless of condition.How much is a 1944 wheat penny worth? ›
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 much is a 1964 D wheat penny worth? ›
A 1964 D cent is worth somewhere between $2 and almost $5,000. Its condition, grade, and patina, among other characteristics, make it a prized object among coin collectors. Only two points separate near-mint condition from the highest quality SMS penny discovered, which is classed MS68.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.Why is the 1980 penny rare? ›
Coins can sometimes be struck on planchets meant for a different denomination. That was the case with one 1980 penny without a mint mark. Instead of being struck on a blank copper planchet, it was struck on a Roosevelt dime. This type of error is very rare, which also makes it valuable.How much is a 1943 steel wheat penny worth? ›
The value of a 1943 steel penny depends largely on its condition, but even a 1943, 1943-S, and 1943-D are normally only worth a couple of dollars in very fine condition at the least, they are worth between 10-15 cents.How much is a 1944 copper wheat penny worth with no mint mark? ›
The 1944 penny without a mint mark is worth $0.02 in Fine condition. If it is Extremely Fine, it could sell for $0.04 and $0.89 in uncirculated condition.