Even though America’s 1-cent coin might not seem like much, it makes sense to look at them carefully. Some rare ones are sought after by collectors, and a penny could sell for a lot of money, even up to $200,000. Pennies have been used for a very long time. The well-known picture of Abraham Lincoln was used to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1909, Lincoln’s face replaced the well-known Indian head on U.S. coins, which President Theodore Roosevelt had changed. The words “United States of America” and “One Cent” were framed by two stalks of wheat until 1958. After that, people started calling the coins “Lincoln wheat pennies.” The value of these coins can vary between collectors, depending on how rare they are or if there were mistakes when they were made. SD Bullion, a gold and silver dealer and coin trader, says that all wheat pennies, including common dates, are worth more than their face value.
Even if a coin is in bad shape, it is probably still worth at least 3 or 4 cents. Some can be worth as much as $600 to people who collect coins. The ones with rare changes or mistakes at the mint, like “double-died” pennies, stamped more than once with a steel die, are worth more.
“The mint is supposed to check for mistakes like the doubled die penny, see it, and then destroy it,” Blake Alma, who runs the blog CoinHub and is from Lebanon, Ohio, told Fox News. There can be a “minor deviation” or a “major structural anomaly” in the artwork and text on double-died pennies. Alma said, “Coin collectors are very interested in double die pennies because they are a rare and valuable mistake.”
The American Numismatic Association‘s official auction house, GreatCollections Coin Auctions, sold a 1958 double-died penny for $1,136,000 in January 2023. Some varieties, such as those made with materials used during World War II, are worth more. Instead of the usual bronze coin blanks, 1943 pennies were supposed to be made of zinc-coated steel planchets so that copper could be used for the war effort. However, CNBC said some were made by mistake with old bronze planchets. Heritage Auctions, the largest numismatic auction house in the world, called the bronzed Lincoln penny from 1943 “the most famous error coin in American numismatics.”
In 2019, David Stone, a coin cataloger for Heritage, told CNBC that collectors knew of about 15 to 20 1943 bronze pennies. Stone said at the time that these coins could sell for between $150,000 and $200,000. Not long before, Heritage had sold a similar one at auction for $186,000.
In 1959, the Lincoln wheat penny was changed. Instead of wheat stalks, the Lincoln Memorial was put on the coin. In 2008, to mark the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, the federal government made a series of pennies. In 2010, they were replaced by the current design, which has a union shield on the back to show that the United States is one.