The Most Valuable Pennies That Could Be in Your Coin Jar

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 3, 2023

It may seem hard to believe, but you could unknowingly possess a small fortune in the form of a rare penny. With some pennies fetching staggering prices at auctions, it's worth taking a closer look at the loose change in your pockets or coin jars, even if the chances of hitting a jackpot are low. This article will guide you through identifying potentially valuable pennies and help you uncover hidden treasures that could be worth thousands of dollars.

What Can Make Pennies Valuable?

The value of a coin, including pennies, can usually be estimated easily by taking a look at a few key factors: its condition, date, mint marks and mint errors. A coin's condition is often one of the most important factors when estimating a coin’s value as collectors prefer coins in pristine condition. The date of a coin can make it more valuable, especially if it's in great condition because old coins have more time to be damaged and lose their luster.

Certain mint marks can also add or subtract value, as they indicate where a coin was produced, and each mint facility produces a different amount of coins. Mint errors can make coins extremely valuable because the error means that they are often the rarest forms of a coin.

6 of the Most Valuable Pennies

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1943 Copper Penny: This penny is inordinately valuable to coin collectors because it was mistakenly minted in copper instead of the steel used that year because of wartime restrictions. Only a few are known to exist, making them extremely rare and valuable. Today these pennies can sell for over $100,000 in good enough condition, and one even sold for $1.7 million (with the proceeds going to charity).

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1944 Steel Penny: The 1944 steel penny is one of the rarest, most sought-after American coins in the world. Like the 1943 copper penny, it was struck using the wrong planchet. By 1944, the U.S. mint returned to only using copper alloys to mint pennies, but a few were accidentally struck with the steel-zinc planchets they used to make the 1943 steel pennies. Average condition or worse 1944 steel pennies can sell for $50,000, and they can go for over $1 million in MS63 condition or better.

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1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent: The 1909-S VDB is rare because it has the initials of the coin's designer, Victor David Brenner, on the reverse, which was only used for a short time. Only about 500,000 were ever minted. Additionally, 1909 was the first year of the Lincoln Cent’s production after it replaced the Indian Head penny. Its rarity and historical significance make it one of the most valuable pennies. In immaculate condition, these can go for over $150,000. Coins in great condition can go for a few thousand dollars.

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1955 Double Die Lincoln Cent: The 1955 Double Die is an extremely rare penny that resulted from a minting error that caused doubling in the coin's design. This unique error makes the coin highly sought after by collectors. Only about 20,000 were minted. These pennies can be worth over $1,000 in average condition and closer to $20,000 in uncirculated or better condition.

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1922 No D Lincoln Cent: All 1922 Lincoln cents were minted in Denver, so they should all have a D mint mark. This rare coin is missing its "D" mint mark, and other varieties have noticeable but weak mint marks. The “no D” variety is by far the most valuable and has no trace of the mint mark whatsoever. This error occurred because of a heavily overused die, resulting in an extremely rare and valuable penny. These coins can be worth $1,000 or more in average condition and closer to $18,000 in uncirculated condition.

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1969-S Double Die Lincoln Cent: Like the 1955 Double Die, this coin also features a minting error that doubled its design. Doubling on this coin should be noticeable in the lettering and date (but not the mint mark as that was punched separately). These pennies are absurdly rare with only about 100 in existence, making them an extremely sought-after rare penny. They can be worth $40,000 or more in MS63 condition and about $130,000 in better condition.

How to Tell if You Have a Rare Penny

Wondering if you have any rare pennies in your change collection and just don’t know it? It isn’t hard to check; it can just be time-consuming to examine a large number of coins.

Research online to find out what marks, mint errors and dates to look for on your type of penny. Next, estimate the condition of your coin. Check out Benzinga's article dedicated to coin grading for more information. Closely examine the coin for any features you noted in the first step and look out for possible mint errors. Finally, enter the details of your coin online to see what similar coins have sold for recently. If you find a potentially valuable coin or just want to get a more accurate estimate, you can consult a professional coin grader or appraiser.

How to Buy and Sell Rare Pennies

While most pennies aren't worth more than their face value, some rare pennies are definitely worth selling. The best way to buy and sell rare pennies is through a reputable auction platform like Heritage Auctions.

Other Coins You May Love

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1964 JFK Half Dollars: These commemorative coins are popular among collectors for their historical significance. They were created to honor the late President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the previous year. You can buy these half dollars from one of the best precious metals dealers, Red Rock Secured.

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Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins: These coins are known for their purity and beautiful design. They are struck in 0.9999 pure gold, making them a popular bullion coin. You can purchase them through great reputable dealers like Advantage Gold, Red Rock Secured, Lear Capital and American Hartford Gold.

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Platinum American Eagle coins: These coins offer a unique opportunity to invest in platinum and are one of the most popular forms of platinum bullion. They have the same design as the gold and silver versions of the American Eagle coin. They can be purchased through reputable dealers like Advantage Gold and Lear Capital.

About Henry Stater

Henry is an expert in all things crypto. He stays up to date with all the latest coins, platforms and technologies in the field. He has particular expertise in the burgeoning decentralized finance ecosystem and loves trying out all the new platforms. He also always follows major events in other financial markets and geopolitics as a whole, especially when an event’s effects ripple through the crypto market.