The 15 Most Valuable Wheat Pennies
The wheat penny was first minted in 1909, and it was the first coin in wide circulation to feature a U.S. president. Sculptor Victor D. Brenner was asked by the U.S. Mint to design a coin depicting Abraham Lincoln in celebration of his centennial birthday.
While Lincoln is still on the penny today, the wheat is long gone. It was replaced by the Lincoln Memorial in 1959. Despite this, the coin is wildly popular among collectors.
These valuable wheat pennies are rare, but some are still in circulation today. If you happen to get passed a wheat penny, make sure to check it closely — after all, you may have a unique collectible on your hands!
15. 1915 S Penny
Value: Up to $1,500
Bottom line: The San Francisco-minted coin is one that's good for beginners, as its worth about $28 in average condition. In mint condition, they typically sell for more than other pennies from the same year.
The penny comes in reddish brown or brown hues The reddish brown version is the most sought after.
14. 1909 S VDB Penny
Value: Up to $2,200
Bottom line: This coin was designed by Victor David Brenner, who placed his full name on the base of the reverse, bottom center. This was modified by engraver Charles Barber, who changed Brenner's name to "V.D.B."
Once the coins were released, some publications had a problem with the initials, saying they were free advertising for the designer. Mint employees decided to remove them completely after this outcry.
Only 484,000 pennies were issued with the designer's initials.
13. 1926 Penny
Value: Up to $3,000
Bottom line: Actually, 1926 wheat pennies are fairly common in a "good" grade and not worth much, which makes them especially popular among beginner coin collectors.
However, mint condition ones can fetch into the thousands. This coin has no mintmark.
12. 1922 D Penny
Value: Up to $5,000
Bottom line: The 1922-D penny is one of the more common of the decade. However, the degree to which its mintmark disappears can drive up the price.
Pennies with visible mintmarks are cheapest. "Ghost" (barely visible) mintmarks can fetch some money. The plain of the coin version is the most valuable, and the penny with a strong reverse is the most sought after by collectors.
11. 1914 D Penny
Value: Up to $5,500
Bottom line: Not as many of these coins were minted as those that came out of Philadelphia (1.2 million as opposed to 75 million), making this mint all the more valuable.
But beware of the many fakes and counterfeits of this particular coin.
10. 1917 Doubled Die Penny
Value: $3,000 - $6,000
Bottom line: While the doubling on this penny is slight (and hard to tell from the image pictured), the words "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "1917" are doubled.
These 1917 wheat pennies are one of the more valuable double-die errors ever minted.
9. 1955-P DDO Penny
Value: $4,000 - $16,000
Bottom line: This 1955 DDO coin is the most well-known double-die penny of them all. The doubling is prominent in the words "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "LIBERTY" as well as on the 1955 date.
There is also a 1955 "poor man's" DDO penny of the same mint, which is nowhere near as noticeable or valuable.
8. 1922-D No D Strong Reverse Penny
Value: $12,000 - $30,000
Bottom line: The Denver Mint was the only mint that produced pennies in 1922. As a result, the production process was sometimes sloppy.
This rare penny likely exists due to dies hitting one another without a coin between them. Very likely, someone at the mint filed the coins down to improve their look, but they were a little too overzealous and created either a weak "D" mint mark or coins with no mint mark at all.
7. 1944-P Steel Penny
Bottom line: All 1944 pennies were supposed to be created from copper or bronze instead of steel for this one year during WWII. But a few zinc-coated steel planchets were left over from 1943 and used in 1944.
The steel Philadelphia minted pennies from that year are the most common of the three mints.
6. 1944-D Steel Penny
Bottom line: The steel Denver-minted 1944-D penny was made for the same reason as the Philadelphia-minted penny mentioned earlier.
They are quite rare with only seven known to exist. However, experts believe there is still more to be found.
5. 1958-P DDO Penny
Value: $100,000 - $200,000
Bottom line: This coin features the rarest of DDO errors in wheat pennies, with only a few known to exist. The words "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "LIBERTY" on the front of the coin are doubled.
The "1958" date also has a slight doubling, but it is not as prominent and, therefore, hard to see at first glance.
4. 1943 Bronze Penny
Bottom line: Unlike the 1944 pennies, a need for copper during WWII in 1943 meant that pennies from this year were supposed to be made from steel. However, a few copper planchets from 1942 were used in 1943. The Philadelphia mint is, once again, the most common of the three mints in regard to this error.
This is also one of the most counterfeited coins — if its sticks to a magnet, that means it has steel inside and is indeed fake. Also, collectors should be on the lookout for a filed-down date, from an "8" into a "3."
3. 1943-S Bronze Penny
Bottom line: Once again, this penny is the result of a small number of 1942 planchets being used in 1943.
San Francisco-minted 1943-S copper pennies are the next most common coin of this run — despite this, only five from this Mint are known to exist.
2. 1944-S Steel Penny
Value: $700,000 - $1,000,000
Bottom line: This penny is yet another result of using steel planchets leftover from 1943 in the 1944 production. This is the rarest mint of that year.
Only two San Francisco-minted pennies are known to exist thus far.
1. 1943-D Bronze Penny
Value: $800,000 - $2 million
Bottom line: The 1943 D-Bronze penny is the Holy Grail of wheat pennies. There is one that we know of in existence that wasn't made in error, but how it came into being is the topic of much speculation among coin collectors.
According to authors and coin collectors, John Wexler and Kevin Flynn: “The 1943-D bronze cent was owned by a former Denver Mint employee who is believed to have struck it. Speculation has it that the person hand-fed a bronze planchet into the coining press, struck it twice to bring up the design, then kept it."
Another coin collector and writer, Dr. Sol Taylor, sheds a little light on who that employee may have been: "This specimen traces its origins to a deliberately made coin. [It was] probably by John R. Sinnock, chief engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time [and] was later discovered in the estate of a woman Sinnock was dating in the 1940s when [they] both lived in the small town of North Tonawanda, New York."