People have been collecting coins at least as far back as ancient Rome. Some do so merely for fun; others do it with the intent to later sell these coins for a profit. Like most coins, the U.S. penny has seen multiple designs and compositions over the years and some, especially when carefully stored, are worth far more than the face value of one cent.
Standards have been developed to evaluate coins. A modified version of the Sheldon Scale, which grades coins on a scale from 1 to 70 (with 70 being the most valuable), is commonly used. Qualities such as color, (red pennies are worth more than red-brown or brown ones), wear and rarity (including smaller numbers minted or mistakes) impact a coin’s grade.
For most pennies, those minted in recent years are worth, well, a penny. Most wheat cents (minted between 1909 and 1956) are worth about 4 to 5 cents, though those in better condition can have value in the double digits; special examples (especially those in near perfect condition) can be worth much more. Indian Head pennies from 1859 to 1879 are generally worth more than $10, and pennies dated from 1879 to 1909 are worth at least $1.
While it is not likely that the pennies in your pocket are worth much more than face value, some have fetched impressive prices at auction. Here’s a rundown of some seriously valuable pennies.