So, you wanted to educate yourself on the most valuable old pennies in the US and how much are they worth? Well, you’ve chosen the right resource!
In this post, we’ve listed 20 remarkable pennies that have been auctioned for brilliant prices. Remember that the price listed is for the highest auctioned pieces recorded at PCGS. Now, without any further bluffs, let’s dive deep into our list!
Most Valuable Old Pennies
While all 1972 cents, given their seniority, are valuable and rare, let’s discuss the 1992 Judd-1 Silver Center Cent in this post. 14 of these cents are known to survive today, and you might actually have a chance to grab one in an auction.
In January 2021, an SP67 BN 1792 J-1 Silver Center Cent was auctioned at the Heritage Auctions for a whopping $2.5 million. These pennies are large, with a diameter of 24 mm and a weight of 4.48 gm.
There also remains a piece of this coin with a missing silver centerpiece in MS62 grade. This coin is believed to have been a test piece and was auctioned for $446,500 at the 2015 Heritage Auction.
The total mintage of 1793 Chain Ameri Cents was 36,103, among which 187 survive today, with only 1 specimen grading above MS65. The latest and the highest auctioned price for an MS64+ 1793 Chain Ameri Cent was $1,500,000 at the 2019 Heritage Auctions.
Chain cents were the first regular issue US coin and are, therefore, prized by collectors. Unlike some other ancient coins, these coins exist in decent numbers today and are also available in lower grades for collectors to buy. In a Good-6 grade, this coin was auctioned for $8,400 in March 2022.
1793 Strawberry Lef cents are one of the Flowing Hair Wreath Cents of 1793. At Stack’s, it was auctioned for $862,500 in 2009. While the original mintage was 63,353, only 4 of these coins survive. And these, too, haven’t been in the auction market since 2009.
The highest record auction price to date for a 1793 Liberty Cap Wreath Cent was $632,500 in 2008. These cents were minted at the Philadelphia Mint, and the total mint number was 11,056.
Around 450 of these coins exist today, with only 1 coin available in MS60 or higher grade. Consequently, it makes 1793 Liberty Cap Wreath Cent the rarest among 1793 cents when it comes to high MS grades. In Very Fine (VF-20) condition, these coins are worth around $35,000 or more.
According to PCGS, MS 66 1944-S steel Lincoln penny was auctioned for $408,000 during Heritage Auctions in 2021.
These valuable pennies were probably struck in leftover zinc-coated steel planchets from 1943 or on steel planchets meant for foreign coins, and only two of these coins are known to survive.
Ron Guth, the president of PCGS, has mentioned that the MS66 penny is now featured in the Simpson collection of 1943 and 1944 cents. 1944-S steel Lincoln pennies weigh 2.70 gm and have a diameter of 19 mm.
From 1943 onwards, the US Mint decided to start minting steel cents. Interestingly, 1943 copper cents were struck in the few leftover copper planchets remaining from 1942. The composition of this penny is 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc, and it weighs around 3.11 gm.
At the Heritage Auction held on April 2021, MS62 grade 1943 Lincoln Penny (BN) sold for $348000.
According to PCGS Price Guide Editor Jaime Hernandez, PCGS has only identified about 20 genuine 1943 bronze Lincoln pennies, and plenty of counterfeit alternatives are circulating. So, beware while buying these.
1958 Doubled Die Lincoln Penny has conspicuous errors in the letterings ‘LIBERTY’ and ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’.
It is one of the remarkable coin rarities of the 20th century. Consequently, In 2018 Stack’s Bowers, MS64 RD was auctioned for $336,000. Only three of these pennies exist, two in MS64 and one in MS65 grades.
The mintage number of 1856 Flying Eagle Cents was only 634, and 550 of these remain as of 2022, with 25 in grades 65 or Better.
Very Fine (VF-20) 1856 Flying Eagle Cents cost $12,000, and the highest MS66 graded coin was auctioned at $172,500 in 2004. The PCGS price guide estimates the current price of this coin to be $225,000.
Collectors prize a coin with a story, don’t they? The VDB in this coin stands for the initials of the designer Victor David Brenner. 1909-S VDB Lincoln Pennies were minted in limited numbers in the San Fransisco mint, after which the ‘VDB’ initials were removed entirely from the coin.
The survival estimate of these coins in RD condition is 5,000, 50,000 in BN, and 6,000 in RB. The highest auction price is $168,000 for MS67 RD. For an MS63 grade, expect to pay around $2500 for both RD and BN.
1914 Lincoln pennies minted at the Denver Mint rightfully command higher prices given the scarcity. Only 1.2 million coins were minted compared to the 75 million minted in the main Philadelphia Mint.
In 2022, 120,000 1914-D Lincoln pennies are estimated to survive in BN condition, 1,500 in RB, and 1,000 in RD. An MS66+ RD was sold for $158,625 in 2018.
BN 1914-D pennies in Good, Very Fine, and Extremely Fine conditions are relatively affordable, costing you around or below $1,000.
1969-S doubled die penny is one of the rarest Lincoln cents. As of July 2011, PCGS has authenticated only 31 of these Lincoln cents, including all of their brown (BN), Reddish Brown (RB), and Red (RD) pieces.
The highest bid for BN was $54,625 for an AU55 grade 1969-S doubled die penny, whereas the latest auction price for an MS63 graded coin was $37,200 in October 2019.
On the other hand, 1969-S doubled die (RD) coins are worth significantly higher, the highest auctioned price being $126,500 at 2008 Heritage Auctions for an MS64 graded coin.
The double die strike on 1955 error pennies is very conspicuous. Although the survival estimate of these pennies is around 15000 in BN, 2200 in RB, and 1200 in RD, these pennies demand pretty handsomely, even in lower MS grades.
You can expect 1955 doubled die cents (BN) to cost around $1000-$2000 in MS60 and lower, and a few thousand in upper grades, with the highest auctioned price as of date being $24,000 for an MS66 coin. In RB, the record is $32,000 for an MS66-graded coin.
Finally, in premium RD condition, even an MS65+ graded penny was sold for $114,000 in 2018 at the Heritage Auction.
An MS66 graded 1914-S Lincoln Penny was auctioned for $105,800 in 2006 at Bowers & Merena. 900 of these coins exist in RD, 400,000 in BN, and 1,000 in RB.
While not as scarce as their Denver-minted counterparts, only around 4.1 million of these coins were minted in the San Francisco Mint relative to 75 million in the Philadelphia Mint.
In BN color, you can buy one for less than $500 in circulated grades. The auction record for 1914-S penny BN is $2,530.
Indian Head penny series were minted abundantly. However, in the years 1871, 1872, and a few more, the mintage was relatively lower. In 1872, 4,042,000 pennies were minted, and only a fraction of them survives today, therefore, making these pennies rare and premium.
1872 Indian Head penny in brown (BN) color sell for a little lower than $1000 in lower MS grades and a few thousand in higher grades. However, pennies with preserved red color (RD) demand much greater worth.
PCGS site only has records of MS63 and above in this category. In April 2021, MS66 grade 1872 Indian Head penny sold for $49,000.
Around 3.2 million Lincoln cents were struck at the San Fransisco Mint in 1917 compared to 196.4 million of these coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint. An MS66+ BN was sold at $8,225 in 2018. About Uncirculated (AU-50) and MS63 in BN are estimated at $32 and $210, respectively.
Only a small number of mintage of 1864 Indian Cents have an ‘L’ mark on the ribbon. The ‘L’ stands for Longacre, the last name of the engraver, James B. Longacre.
In 2016 Goldberg Auctioneers, MS66 RD was sold for $34,075. In BN condition, the auction record is $4,080 for an MS67 coin, and in RB condition, the record is $8,400 for MS66 grade.
Once again, an imperfection in the 1992 close AM reverse penny is what makes these Lincon cents perfect for collectors. The space between ‘A’ and ‘M’ in ‘AMERICA’ on the reverse side is congested in these error coins.
These coins are extremely rare, and only 5 of them are known to remain as of 2022. The latest auction bid for MS67 RD 1992 close AM reverse penny was $24,056 on July 30 on eBay, whereas the highest was $25,850 for MS67 RD in 2017 at Heritage Auctions.
The mintage of these error 1972 Lincoln pennies is unknown. 1972 doubled die obverse Lincoln pennies feature fully duplicated texts on the obverse side that are easy to spot with naked eyes.
These pennies are made up of 95% copper and 5% zinc and cost more in red (RD) color than in the faded brown (BN) color. The auction record for this coin is $14,400 for MS67+ RD at Heritage Auctions in September 2019.
In lower grades, such as in MS63, 1972 doubled die Lincoln pennies in both the RD and BN are worth around $350, whereas in higher grades RD version demands significantly more attention and value.
The auction record for an MS68 RD 1983 double die reverse is $7,050, made at Heritage Auctions in 2017. In BN color, this error coin in MS64 grade was sold for $495 in 2021 via eBay.
The doubled die error on this coin is evident in all the letters on the reverse. It is, in fact, considered one of the strongest doubled die coins in the entire Lincoln penny series.
Though an error coin, so many 1995 doubled die obverse coins exist such that these are easily affordable in lower circulated grades. Even in MS68 grade, these pennies are worth just a few hundred dollars.
However, a fun fact is that 16 specimens of MS69 1995 doubled die obverse has been recorded by PCGS, and these coins are worth thousands. The highest record was $5,053 in 2017 for MS69 RD, and the latest record was $2,400 in February 2022 for an NGC-graded MS69 penny.
Please take note that US valuable pennies are not limited to these 25 pennies. Some of the precious pennies might have shown limited circulation in the market lately, making them less interesting than those constantly being auctioned.
In a nutshell, know that higher graded cents of the 1700s and early 1800s are automatically worth thousands of dollars. After this date range, only a few selected are worth this much money.
If you want to know if the penny you own is worth a fortune, please get in touch with an expert. Or, share your details with us; we’d be more than happy to help!