What Are The Different Penny Errors and How Much Are They Worth?

What Are The Different Penny Errors and How Much Are They Worth?

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez
Published: November 24, 2020
Updated: June 13, 2022
Table Of Contents:

One of the most popular types of coins to collect are penny errors. This broad category includes most of the unusual Lincoln cents that have managed to escape the United States Mint over the years.

This is a complex area of the hobby, as the Lincoln cent has been in production since 1909 and covers more than a century of numerous errors. What’s more, determining their values is mostly dependent on the individual magnitude of the error and the coin’s condition.

This article will provide an at-a-glance review of the most valuable errors and varieties. One should consult a Lincoln cent reference book to understand better the many varieties found among Lincoln cents. One of the best books on the topic is A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents, by Q. David Bowers (Whitman Publishing).

1943 copper penny

1943 bronze penny

A List of Lincoln Cent Errors and Values

  • 1922-D (no “D”) – $500+
  • 1943 Bronze – $100,000+
  • 1944 Steel – $75,000+
  • 1955 Doubled Die Obverse – $1,000+
  • 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse – $25,000+
  • 1972 Doubled Die Obverse – $300+
  • 1982-D Copper Small Date – $10,000+
  • 1992 Close AM – $5,000+
  • 1995 Doubled Die Obverse – $30+
  • 1998 Wide AM – $20+
  • 1999 Wide AM – $400+
  • 2000 Wide AM – $20+

One of the trickiest Lincoln cent errors to catch is the 1922-D "no D." This is a famous example of a "filled die" error. Grease from the coining press can get on a die, filling a design element. Coins struck with that die will be missing that design element.

In the case of the 1922-D "No D" Lincoln cent, grease filled the "D" mint mark in a die. Lincoln cents struck with this die are missing the "D" mint mark. This made the pennies look like they were minted in Philadelphia, which does not have a mint mark. The only reason that this famous "no D" error was discovered, was that Philadelphia didn't make Lincoln cents in 1922.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lincoln Penny Errors

What Pennies Are Worth Keeping?

Every Lincoln cent struck before 1982 (except for the 1943 wheat penny) were made from a mostly copper composition. They are now worth closer to two cents for the metal value. Lincoln wheat cents were all bronze, struck from 1909 through 1958. Bronze Lincoln Memorial cents were struck from 1959 to 1981. (Both bronze and zinc cents were minted in 1982.) Lincoln cents have been struck from copper-coated zinc since 1982.

Beyond copper content, the collector should focus on the dates listed above. Also check any and all pennies that appear to have mistakes or other oddities on them. While further inspection may reveal many of those “errors” to be only post-mint damage, it’s best to save what looks odd first and then rule it out (or in) as an error. You wouldn't want to pass up an opportunity at saving a coin you weren’t sure about but spent out of haste or doubt.

What Year Pennies Are Valuable?

1909 s vdb lincoln wheat cent

1909-S VDB Lincoln Wheat cent

The answer to this question is similar to the previous one. However, if we are adding rare regular-issue dates to this list, consider the following valuable Wheat pennies:

  • 1909-S – $100+
  • 1909-S VDB – $600+
  • 1911-S – $40+
  • 1914-D – $150+
  • 1924-D – $30+
  • 1931-S – $100+

The Whitman "Red Book" Guidebook to U.S. Coins is often called the "official price guide to US coin collecting." The Red Book does not list mint error coins, but it does list all major varieties, such as double dies and repunched mint marks. This can help you identify valuable pennies and old coins even without a current price list.

What Is An Error Penny?

An error penny is any one-cent coin that was misstruck during production at the U.S. Mint. Strike errors include such things as broadstrikes and off-center coins. Transitional errors can happen when a coin's composition changes, but the old dies are used. Die errors include filled dies, die cracks, and die doubling. Doubled die Lincoln cents aren’t technically errors, but rather are in a class of coins known as varieties. The 1955 Double Die Obverse Lincoln cent is one of the most famous double die U.S. coins.

What Year Pennies Have Errors?

Technically, errors can be found on a Lincoln cent from any year! That’s why it’s worth paying close attention to all the coins that go through your hands, and to investigate further any coin that appears odd or unusual. If you’re looking for a more specific answer, please refer to the list above for the most notable penny errors.

What Are The Different Types Of Errors?

Some of the most common penny errors include off-center coins, broadstrikes, and clipped planchets. Note that doubled dies, repunched mint marks, and die breaks are technically not errors, but rather varieties. These anomalies were created in the die creation stage or by way of wear-related changes to the die. Coin errors are created during production of the individual coin itself.

What Is A Broadstrike Error?

A broadstrike error occurs when the coin is struck without its retaining collar in place. The retaining collar not only keeps the coin round and forms the edge, it can add lettering or designs like reeding to the edge.

A broadstrike coin is usually thinner and wider than average, since there is no collar to limit its size. To be numismatically classified as a broadstrike, the entire design must be visible. This definition helps set broadstrikes apart from off-center coins.

How Do You Tell If Your Coin Has An Error?

It’s best to compare the coin that seems to be an error to other known examples of that error. This is where educational websites and coin books can be of most help. Unfortunately, many of the things that appear to be errors to new collectors are just forms of post-mint damage and thus add no value to the coin.

The body of error coinage is so vast that it can’t feasibly be examined here in a paragraph or two. It’s best to consult an educational website or reputable reference guide for detailed information.

Two trusted sources are the Combined Organization of Numismatic Error Collectors of America (CONECA), and the two-volume Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton (Whitman Publishing, 2008).

lincoln wheat cent

Lincoln Wheat cent

Which 1982 Penny Is Worth The Most?

The most valuable 1982 penny is a transitional error caused by the move from 95% copper to 99.2% zinc composition. It’s the 1982-D "small date" Lincoln Memorial cent made from copper. There wasn't supposed to be any "small date" bronze Lincoln cents struck in Denver in 1982.

Leftover copper planchets struck with the new "Small Date" dies meant for zinc coins caused this error coin rarity. This is technically a "wrong planchet error," even though both types of blanks were meant for Lincoln cents.

The 1982-D Small Date Bronze Lincoln cent is often regarded as the “eighth variety” of a year that contained seven regular-issue Lincoln cent varieties.

The seven "regular" 1982 Lincoln cent varieties are

  1. 1982 "Large Date" bronze;
  2. 1982 "Small Date" bronze;
  3. 1982 "Large Date" zinc;
  4. 1982 "Small Date: zinc;
  5. 1982-D "Large Date" bronze;
  6. 1982-D "Large Date" zinc;
  7. 1982-D "Small Date" zinc.

The 1982-D copper small date was not discovered until 2016. It is worth more than $10,000.

How Much Is A 1999 Penny Worth?

Most 1999 pennies are worth only face value if worn. A handful of varieties are known, showing the bases of the letters “A” and “M” of "AMERICA" on the reverse further apart from each other than usual. These so-called 1999 Wide AM pennies are coins worth around $400 each.

What Is The Rarest Penny?

That’s the $64,000 question! Ironically, the most valuable Lincoln cent ever sold is worth much more than even that. In 2010, the only known 1943-D bronze Lincoln cent sold for $1.7 million. The coin, graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as PCGS MS64BN (Brown), crossed the block at a Legend Numismatics auction. The seven-figure sale of this rare coin made headlines all around the world.

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.

More coin collecting articles from Gainesville Coins:

15 of the Best Coins to Collect

15 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels: Complete Price Guide

How Much Is a Silver Quarter Worth?

Get Started Collecting Coins: A How To Guide for Beginners

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Sheryl | 12/3/2023
I have a 1965 penny with no mint mark and a large area of missing lamination in front of Lincoln's mouth, like you can see his breath. Could it be valuable?
1 Reply
Sheryl | 12/3/2023
Also, it has been in a Saflip since October 2, 1966.
0 Reply
Everett | 12/4/2023
Hey Sheryl. That error sounds interesting, but it's not one I'm familiar with. I didn't find any information about well-known 1965 penny errors. You might have found a new variety!
0 Reply
Carrie | 10/25/2023
I have a wheat Penny that was only struck on the reverse, and only weighs 1.62g? Does any one know?
0 Reply
Tako | 9/30/2023
Hi! I have a 1982D penny it weighs 3.14-3.15 g. Please let me know if it is valuable. Thanks!
1 Reply
Everett | 10/2/2023
Hi Tako. That weight means the penny is made from the old bronze alloy and is more valuable than the pennies made later in 1982 (and ever since) from the new copper-plated zinc alloy. If the coin is in excellent condition, it may be worth $1 to $2 as a collectible. I know that doesn't sound like much, but it's way more than 1 cent!
0 Reply
Christopher | 8/29/2023
I have a 1982D penny it weighs 3.1 to 3.2 g. I’m not sure how accurate my scales are.
0 Reply
Everett | 8/31/2023
Hey Christopher. That weight is accurate for a 1982 penny prior to the U.S. Mint switching its composition from a bronze alloy (95% copper) to copper-plated zinc (97.5% zinc) later that year. The new alloy weighs 2.5 grams, but the old bronze alloy weighs 3.1 grams.
0 Reply
Al | 7/6/2023
I have a1919 penny that weighs 2.75 gr. It is well used but may have some mint errors. What is strange about it is it has a lot of pure black to its color. What do you think. Al
0 Reply
Ronnie | 5/8/2023
can pennies dimes nickels and quarters be worth as much as the internet says its worth
1 Reply
Everett | 5/8/2023
Hi Ronnie. Yes, they can be worth the prices listed, especially if the coins are graded and you put them up for auction. But it's a good question because any collectible coin is really only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. It may take time to find a collector who is interested in a particular type of coin in order to get its full value.
0 Reply
MIMI | 5/6/2023
1 Reply
Everett | 5/8/2023
That's a great question, Mimi. The bronze and zinc pennies of 1982 can be difficult to tell apart, but the bronze ones usually have a more red color while the zinc ones are more brown. To tell the difference between the Large Date and Small Date, I would look at the pictures on a website such as USA CoinBook and compare.
0 Reply
Ronnie | 3/19/2023
Is 1948 and 1952 pennies what value are considered
1 Reply
Everett | 5/8/2023
Hey Ronnie. If they are in mint condition, those pennies are probably worth about $2 to $3.
0 Reply
Ronnie | 3/19/2023
Is 1948 and 1952 pennies what value are considered
0 Reply
Karl | 2/8/2023
1980 Lincoln penny with the T in liberty looks more like a 7 or a ? The T part never goes right it truly looks like a ?
0 Reply
Everett | 5/8/2023
Hi Karl. That's odd! I'm not familiar with that kind of error on any 1980 pennies, so it may just be a case that the right portion of the "T" has been worn off over time.
0 Reply
Kerry | 2/5/2023
I have a penny from the 70'sworn, but readable. The last digit might be a 3, but the bottom is elongated. No mint mark. Just trying to identify. Any answers?
1 Reply
Everett | 2/6/2023
Hi Kerry. The most well-known errors on 1970s pennies are from 1970 and 1979, both from the San Francisco Mint. Those would both have an S mintmark, though. I'll see if I can find out anything else that might help identify your coin.
0 Reply
Phylesia | 1/17/2023
My email is phylesiag@gmail.com I also have all the steel pennies in all 3 mints, a lot of coins that you might be excited about considering they're scarce
0 Reply
Phylesia | 1/17/2023
My email is phylesiag@gmail.com I also have all the steel pennies in all 3 mints, a lot of coins that you might be excited about considering they're scarce
0 Reply
Phylesia | 1/17/2023
What do I do if I have a 1982-d Copper sm date 1969-s double Die 1917 double Die 1972 double die
1 Reply
Everett | 5/8/2023
Hi Phylesia. I would suggest submitting those coins to a professional grading service such as NGC or PCGS, especially the doubled dies!
0 Reply
Phylesia | 1/17/2023
What do I do if I have a 1982-d Copper sm date 1969-s double Die 1917 double Die 1972 double die
0 Reply
Odell | 12/5/2022
I have a 1953 wheat cent red penny, what is the value of this coin.
0 Reply
Jason | 12/26/2022
Depending on condition it's worth anywhere from $0.05 to $1.20
1 Reply
Robert | 11/5/2022
Morning Josh. I have a question about a 1974D die clash Lincoln cent that depicts the obverse of coin on the reverse and vice versa. Is this common.
0 Reply
Robert | 12/28/2022
1974D die clash both obverse showing on reverse and vise versa
0 Reply

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