10 Most Valuable Pennies: Are These In Your Pocket Change?

10 Most Valuable Pennies: Are These In Your Pocket Change?

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez
Published: November 18, 2022
Updated: November 21, 2022
Table Of Contents:

For many collectors, pennies are the first coins they ever pursue. This is partly because the barrier to entry is very low. You can sometimes find old pennies worth money in your pocket change! And countless collectors spend a lifetime building and improving on their sets of pennies. 

Gainesville Coins' expertise in numismatics spans over several decades. Our experts share their research to help you with all of your coin collecting needs. Read more below to learn how to find valuable pennies!

How to Identify Pennies Worth Money

Pennies are among the most popular collectibles, even though they are among the smallest circulating coins and contain no bullion value. Yet, these coin series, most of which contain at least a small amount of valuable copper, are among the most beloved collectibles.

This, of course, leads one to wonder what the most valuable pennies of the 20th century are. (This cut-off date excludes the large cent, Flying Eagle cent, and most Indian Head pennies.)

Most of the Lincoln Wheat cents one encounters from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s are worth only a few cents each. And worn Lincoln Memorial cents struck from 1959 through 1981 are worth about 2 cents for their copper value. Circulated Lincoln cents made since are generally worth their face value.

But there are several valuable pennies worth money, much more than just a few cents apiece. Some of these one cent coins are worth hundreds! Here’s a rundown of 10 of the most expensive pennies made since 1900: 

1. 1909-S Indian Cent: $300 to $1,000+

The lowest-mintage circulation strike of the Indian cent series is the 1909-S, which was struck to the tune of just 309,000 pieces. Values start at around $300 for even well-worn specimens, and prices climb above $1,000 for uncirculated pieces.

2. 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent: $600 to $1,300+

1909 s vdb lincoln wheat cent

1909-S "VDB" Lincoln Wheat penny. Image: USA CoinBook

There is perhaps no 20th-century coin more famous than the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent. It is a penny that is the object of desire for not just Lincoln series enthusiasts but also for all collectors who want to own this widely known rarity.

The "VDB" lettering on the coin refers to the designer's initials, Victor David Brenner. Amid controversy, the letters were removed the following year.

Only 484,000 pieces were made, and far fewer exist today, pushing prices above $600 for well-worn examples and more than $1,300 for uncirculated specimens.

3. 1914-D Lincoln Cent: $150 to $2,200+

This early mint marked Lincoln cent is a highly regarded rarity that rises to the ranks of being a key alongside the iconic 1909-S VDB penny. There were only 1,193,000 coins minted, and the number of survivors is but a fraction of that low mintage figure today.

The 1914-D Lincoln cent is among the most valuable Wheat pennies, which feature wheat ears on the reverse side (tails side). It sells for around $150 in well-worn grades and well over $2,200 in uncirculated grades.

4. 1922 Plain Lincoln Cent: $500 to $10,500+

For some time, the occurrence of a 1922 Lincoln penny without a mintmark led many in the numismatic community to assume it was a Philadelphia strike. However, mint records showed no Lincoln cents were made at the Philadelphia Mint in 1922 and that all pennies were struck in Denver that year.

Apparently, heavy die polishing led to the obliteration of the “D” mintmark on the obverse of a small number of 1922 pennies, all of which are worth around $500 and up even in well-worn condition. The tiny handful of rare uncirculated specimens start at over $10,500 a piece.

5. 1931-S Lincoln Cent: $65 to $100+

During the leanest years of the Great Depression, the United States Mint clamped down on the production of many coins, including the Lincoln cent. In 1931, the U.S. Mint greatly reduced the number of Lincoln cents it produced. The San Francisco Mint struck only 866,000 examples of the penny that year.

While many collectors saved 1931-S Lincoln cents from day one, this issue remains a scarce semi-key coin worth around $65 in circulated condition and $100 and up in uncirculated grades.

6. 1943 Bronze Lincoln Cent: $125,000+

1943 copper penny

1943 copper Wheat penny

In 1943, the United States Mint began striking Lincoln cents out of zinc-coated steel to help save copper for World War II ammunition. More than one billion 1943 steel cents were struck, but a few were accidentally made from bronze planchets. It's unknown exactly how many exist, but the number totals around two dozen from the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints combined.

Regardless of condition, 1943 bronze pennies tend to sell for around $125,000 and up. One sold for a whopping $1.7 million dollars through Heritage Auctions in 2010, but this high value was for a rare coin struck at the Denver Mint.

7. 1944 Steel Lincoln Cent: $75,000 to $125,000+

lincoln wheat cent steel

The 1943 steel penny is more common than the elusive 1944 Steel Wheat penny. Image: USA CoinBook

The 1943 pennies made of steel were officially a one-year-only production, as the mint switched back to a bronze alloy (95% copper and 5% tin) in 1944. But a few leftover steel planchets from the previous year were inadvertently stamped with 1944-dated Lincoln cent dies intended for bronze production. These are about as rare as the 1943 bronze pennies and generally trade hands in the neighborhood of $75,000 to $125,000 apiece.

8. 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent: $1,000 to $2,000+

One of the most popular varieties ever struck was the 1955 doubled die Lincoln cent. The coins caused a stir when they appeared in circulation and helped fuel a surge in coin collecting during the 1950s and early ‘60s. Many coin collectors still consider it to be the "Holy Grail" error coin.

The 1955 doubled die penny shows heavy doubling in the inscriptions on the obverse side such as the word LIBERTY and the date. It is worth $1,000 and up even in well-worn condition, with uncirculated specimens taking $2,000 or more.

9. 1969-S Doubled Die Lincoln Cent: $30,000+

One of the most valuable doubled die varieties ever produced is this 1969-S penny error. Experts believe this issue numbers only a handful of specimens and is worth more than $30,000.

Doubling is apparent on the obverse in the inscription and date but not the mintmark. The mintmark was hand-punched on the die after it was hubbed (the process of creating a working die, where the doubling on this coin would have occurred).

10. 1972 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent: $200 to $300+

Another doubled die Lincoln cent rounds out the top 10 on this list of most expensive pennies, with this highly popular variety from 1972. The 1972 doubled die penny shows marked doubling on the obverse and is most evident in the date and inscription “LIBERTY.”

There are several classifications of 1972 doubled die pennies, but the rarest and most desirable are usually categorized as “Class I” or something similar. These are worth about $200 in circulated grades and $300 or more in uncirculated condition.

Getting the Most Money for Your Valuable Coins

Whether you have valuable pennies worth money or other coins your wish to sell, it’s best to take them to a coin dealer who is reputable, willing to educate you on what you have, and pays fair prices. Work with a coin dealer that has been involved in the numismatic industry for many years, has affiliations with organizations such as Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, and hires highly experienced professionals who are willing to answer your questions with courtesy and skill. 

Ready to buy coins? Call us at during business hours at (813) 482-9300. Browse the items below or check the coins for sale in our New Arrivals by following the link. Shop for coins, supplies, and other products online at Gainesville Coins!


Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.

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