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The Ultimate Guide to Lincoln Penny Values in 2024


The Lincoln penny is one of the most iconic and enduring coins in U.S. history. First minted in 1909, it has captured the hearts of collectors for over a century with its classic design and historical significance. Whether you‘re a seasoned numismatist or just starting out, understanding the value of your Lincoln pennies is essential.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about Lincoln penny values in 2024. We‘ll dive into the key dates and varieties, explore the factors that affect value, and provide up-to-date price charts for each major type. Plus, we‘ll offer expert tips on grading, preservation, and building a top-notch collection. Let‘s get started!

A Brief History of Lincoln Pennies

The Lincoln cent was born out of tragedy. In the wake of President Abraham Lincoln‘s assassination in 1865, there was a renewed interest in honoring his legacy on U.S. coinage. However, it took over 40 years for this to come to fruition.

In 1909, the centennial anniversary of Lincoln‘s birth, the U.S. Mint finally released the Lincoln cent designed by Victor David Brenner. It featured a striking profile bust of the 16th president on the obverse and two wheat ears on the reverse. This "Wheat Ears" design would remain until 1958.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln‘s birth in 1959, the Mint updated the reverse design to feature the Lincoln Memorial building. This "Memorial" design continued until 2008.

2009 brought four commemorative designs depicting stages of Lincoln‘s life to honor the bicentennial of his birth. And from 2010 to present, the Union Shield design has graced the reverse.

Factors That Determine Lincoln Penny Value

Several key factors influence the value of a Lincoln penny:

  1. Date and Mintmark – Coins from certain years and branch mints are scarcer than others due to lower mintage figures or other circumstances. This includes key dates like the 1909-S VDB, 1914-D, 1922 No D, and 1931-S.

  2. Condition/Grade – The better the condition, the higher the value. A coin that has never been circulated (mint state) will be worth far more than one that has wear. Exceptional examples with pristine surfaces and great eye appeal can command huge premiums.

  3. Errors and Varieties – Mistakes and anomalies can occur during the minting process, creating rare and valuable variations. The 1922 "Plain" No D, 1955 Double Die Obverse, and 1960 Small Date are some famous examples.

  4. Composition – From 1909 to mid-1982, the Lincoln cent was composed of 95% copper. But rising copper prices forced the Mint to switch to zinc coated with copper. Pre-1982 copper pennies are worth more than face value for their metal content, and some 1982 pennies can be valuable transitional errors.

Lincoln Wheat Penny Value Chart (1909-1958)

Date Good (G-4) Fine (F-12) EF (EF-40) Unc (MS-60)
1909 VDB $12 $20 $50 $100
1909-S VDB $650 $1,000 $1,500 $2,500
1909-S $40 $75 $120 $200
1910-1920 $0.30 $0.75 $3 $15
1921-S $15 $30 $75 $150
1922 No D $10,000 $20,000 $40,000 $100,000
1923-1930 $0.30 $0.75 $3 $15
1931-S $40 $75 $120 $200
1932-1940 $0.30 $0.75 $3 $15
1941-1958 $0.10 $0.20 $1 $5

Note: Values are for problem-free coins with full wheat lines. Prices can vary based on color, luster, and eye appeal. Uncirculated prices are for MS-60 grade; higher grades can be worth significantly more. Certain semi-key dates like the 1910-S, 1911-S, 1912-S, 1913-S, 1914-D, 1915-S, and 1924-D can sell for a premium in all grades due to lower mintages.

Lincoln Memorial Penny Value Chart (1959-2008)

Date BU (MS-60) Choice BU (MS-63) Gem BU (MS-65)
1959-2008 (except below) Face Value Face Value $0.10
1960 Small Date $10 $25 $100
1970-S Small Date $25 $50 $200
1982-D Sm Date Zinc $50 $100 $200
1983 Doubled Die $250 $500 $1,000

Note: These are average values for uncirculated coins in each grade. Some dates may be worth slightly more or less based on overall population and quality. The 1960 and 1970-S Small Date varieties, along with the rare transitional 1982-D Small Date zinc and 1983 Doubled Die error, can be quite valuable in all mint state grades.

Tips for Valuing Your Lincoln Pennies

When it comes to determining the value of your Lincoln cents, here are a few expert tips to keep in mind:

  • Grading is Key – Familiarize yourself with the Sheldon grading scale and learn to differentiate between the various levels of preservation. A single grade point can make a huge difference in value for key dates and rare varieties. When in doubt, consult a professional grading service like PCGS or NGC.

  • Check for Errors – Before you assume your penny is ordinary, take a close look at the date, mintmark, lettering, and devices. Doubled dies, repunched mintmarks, off-center strikes, and other errors can be hiding in plain sight.

  • Copper vs. Zinc – If you have any 1982 pennies, check to see if they are copper or zinc. Weigh them on a digital scale – copper pennies will weigh about 3.11 grams while zinc will weigh about 2.5 grams. Rare transitional errors like the 1982-D Small Date zinc can be worth big bucks.

  • Red vs. Brown – For uncirculated Lincoln pennies, the color can significantly impact value. "Red" coins retain at least 95% of their original mint luster and command the highest premiums. "Red-Brown" have mellowed into more subdued hues, while "Brown" examples have little to no remaining red. Always store your pennies properly to preserve their color.

  • Wholesale vs. Retail – When pricing your coins, keep in mind that dealers typically pay wholesale "bid" prices of 50-80% of retail values, while retail "ask" prices reflect the full market value. Consider selling your coins directly to collectors to maximize your return.

The Future of Lincoln Pennies

The Lincoln penny is an enduring symbol of American numismatics, but its future is not without challenges. Rising production costs and the declining purchasing power of the cent have led to calls for its discontinuation.

However, the Lincoln penny continues to have strong support from the public and collectors alike. In 2019, the U.S. Mint struck over 7 billion pennies to meet demand. Some experts speculate that if the penny is eventually abolished, it could spark renewed interest in the series and drive up values.

As we look ahead to 2024 and beyond, the long-term outlook for Lincoln penny collecting remains bright. With a rich history, diverse range of design types and varieties, and endless opportunities for specialization, the Lincoln cent offers something for every collector‘s tastes and budget.


We hope this comprehensive guide has given you a clearer picture of Lincoln penny values and the key factors that drive them. Remember, while some dates and varieties are undoubtedly rare and valuable, even the most common Lincoln cent is a tangible piece of American history that deserves appreciation.

As you build and curate your collection, stay focused on quality, rarity, and personal satisfaction. With a discerning eye and a passion for numismatics, you‘re sure to derive a lifetime of enjoyment from this classic series. Happy collecting!