It’s a wild but true fact: small pieces of copper (and zinc) can cost enormous amounts of money. The world’s most peculiar and sought-after pennies globally are worth more than $100,000 and fast approaching $2 million. Scarcity is one of the most significant factors while determining the value of a penny. Another factor to put into consideration is the condition of the coin. A final consideration has to do with the “striking” of the coin itself and the planchet being used. The following are nine (9) most valuable valuable and expensive pennies in the United States of America (USA), according to auction sales figures and public records.
Note: The penny images on this page are courtesy of Heritage Auctions (ha.com), unless otherwise noted. Discover more of their work and bid on auctions on their website.
9. 1914-D Lincoln Penny Priced – $152,750
The coin was sold in August 2017 by Heritage Auctions, Denver, and C.O., in the ANA U.S. Coins Signature Auction.
The penny was circulated heavily and was usually linked to the extensive popularity of “Penny Boards” in the early 1990s, where people collected coins from circulation.
Consequently, most of these pennies are in the condition of use and circulation.
An uncirculated coin is still in its initial unblemished state, red color, and is extremely valuable and rare to find.
8. 1864 Indian Head Penny–”L” on Ribbon – $161,000
The penny was sold in October 2011 at the Heritage Auctions in Pittsburgh, PA, with Signature Auction.
As the Civil War raged on in 1864, the economy of the U.S. became more and more fragile.
Most citizens accumulated copper, silver, and gold coins as part of their wealth.
The Indian Head coin was then produced by James B. Longacre, the Mint engraver, and issued for the first time in 1859.
Around mid-1864, pennies mintage, an additional “L” was inscribed on the Ribbon’s tail in the battle cap on the head of Lady Liberty.
It is believed that only about five million of the coins were made, and only a minimal amount of them was kept in an uncirculated condition.
7. 1943 Lincoln Cent Bronze Struck Alloy – $164,500
The coveted coin was sold in January 2013 at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries in the Americana Auction.
The 1943 cents are undeniably valuable and famous. The pennies in existence are very few. Today, advanced treasure collectors are competing to get their hands on these coins. As a result, the prices of pennies have significantly gone up in recent times.
The standard for the bronze penny that led to the steel coins in 1943 was made from 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. Many have understood that 1943 copper cents were accidentally minted from the 1942 leftover bronze planchets. However, the composition of the current planchet is not an identical match.
Besides, the steel planchets used in 1943 needed greater striking pressure to achieve the designs. That means the softer bronze planchets are sharply struck. This penny has some softness, as you will notice at Lincoln’s shoulder, the opposing position of the reverse die, Lincoln’s head, and close to the rims
6. 1856 Flying Eagle Cent – $172,500
The flying eagle cent was sold in January 2004 at the Heritage Auctions in Orlando, FL, by FUN Signature Auction.
The price of the 1856 Eagle coin has gone up. It is now many times more valuable than the metal used to make the penny.
Previously, pennies were about a half-dollar size, as they were huge and bulky. The U.S. Mint decided to reduce the penny’s size to lower the costs.
However, the move required the approval of Congress, which forced the mint to produce about 800 pieces of new pennies for approval.
Both in circulated and uncirculated conditions, these coins are hard to find. It is a sure bet to put in place record prices whenever they cross any auction block!
5. 1909 VDB Matte Proof Lincoln Penny – $258,500
This 1909 penny was sold in August 2014 by the Heritage Auctions in Chicago, ANA, IL, with U.S. Coins Signature Auction.
The coin is scarce, thanks to its low mintage quantity.
It also has very brilliant colors due to the long time storage of more than 100 years.
This quality makes it exceptionally great for penny collectors.
4. 1943-S Lincoln Cent Struck on Bronze – $282,000
The coin was auctioned in February 2016 at the Heritage Auctions, CA, Long Beach, and U.S. Coins Signature Auction.
Copper was essential during the 1943 war, and the country could not afford any shortage as this could have affected the war outcome. The Treasury Department, in a bid to conserve this important commodity, decided to use the ordinary bronze blanks used in coin minting. The “steel” coins were minted in huge numbers and saved by many collectors because of their value.
Interestingly, some bronze planchets stuck in the 1942 the coin presses. These planchets remained unnoticed as the tote bins were fed with zinc-coated steel planchets, which led to the creation of the celebrated 1943 bronze cents.
The coin exhibits all the evidence of widespread circulation and has left the mint through the standard circulation channels.
3. 1958 Doubled Die Obverse Cent – $336,000
The double die was sold in March 2018 at Stacks Bowers, Baltimore Session 3, Rarities Night, and the ESM Collection.
The penny is among the most extraordinarily intriguing and rare Lincoln cents, thanks to its variety.
Unlike the well-known Doubled Die Lincoln Cent of 1955, only 3 Doubled Die Lincoln pennies of 1958 exist!
You can imagine how prized such rarities are in the penny community.
2. 1944-S Lincoln Steel Penny – $373,750
The copper coins were sold in August 2008 at the Heritage Auctions, MD, Baltimore, and ANA US Coin Signature Auction.
The 1944-S Steel Cent is extremely rare and valuable. The now precious coin was created when a steel blank leftover from 1943 was struck during 1944-S Bronze Cents production. Only two examples of the coin exist.
The coin is uncirculated and exceptionally well preserved. It was also tremendously well-minted, as demonstrated by the tiniest details on the penny.
Combining these factors makes this particular coin the second most valuable American penny in the world.
1. 1943-D Lincoln Bronze Cent – $1,700,000
The highly treasured coin was sold in September 2010 at the Legend Numismatics and Private Sale.
Only one known example of the 1943-D Bronze Cent is in existence. How this cent came about is clouded in mystery and speculation. John Wexler and Kevin Flynn maintain that the coin was owned by a Denver Mint employee who struck it.
This precious coin has the strongest “strike“, unlike any other 1943 bronze cent. It is speculated that the person fed a bronze planchet by hand into the coining press before striking it twice.
The coin remained kept secret for many years. It is believed that after the first owner died, the now most valuable coin was handed down to one of his children, who consigned the coin to Superior Galleries for auction in 1996.
The ANACS examined the coin in 1979 and confirmed it “genuine.” It was sent to NGC in 1996. PCGS has since certified it as MS64BN.
A Penny Saved May Be Much More Than A Penny Earned
These nine highlighted pennies are the most valuable currently.
If you happen to come across a nice, shiny penny on the street, you might want to pick it up and inspect more closely.
Because you just never what rare find you’ll come across.