Wheat Pennies That Are Valuable

Pennies that could be worth more than your house! Our guide on the most valuable wheat pennies will make you think the next time you spot a penny on the sidewalk.
A picture of wheat pennies

Published on:

August 25, 2022


When did wheat pennies start and end?

The Wheat Penny is an American coin designed by Victor D. Brenner and minted between 1909 and 1958. The obverse of the coin features a bust of Abraham Lincoln with the date below, while the reverse bears the wheat wreath motif for which the coin is named. The Wheat Penny was minted in large numbers and remained in circulation for many years, but it is now considered a collectible due to its historical value. Today, the coin is widely sought after by numismatists and collectors alike. While the Wheat Penny is no longer in production, its legacy as one of America’s most iconic coins endures.

VDB penny years

V.D.B. are the initials of Victor David Brenner, the designer of the famous Lincoln Wheat Cent. Brenner was born in Lithuania and emigrated to America as a young boy. He began his career as a stone carver and became one of America’s foremost sculptors. His work can be seen on buildings, monuments, and coins all across the country. In 1909, Brenner was commissioned to design a new coin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The result was the Lincoln Wheat Cent, which featured a portrait of the 16th president on one side and an image of wheat stalks on the other.

How Much Is A Wheat Penny Worth

A wheat penny is worth roughly a minimum of 4 cents, more than face value, depending on the year it was minted, its current condition, and if it is considered an error coin. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule – in 2010, a 1943 Denver Mint-struck wheat penny sold for a whopping $1.7 million!

How do you know how much a wheat penny is worth?

Wheat pennies, like all coins, are valued based on their rarity, condition, date, mint marks, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, if they are in good condition or have been graded by a coin grading agency such as PCGS. Error coins also can make a significant difference in the price of a coin. Errors can impact the price of a coin, exponentially taking a coin that would be worth only a few dollars usually and turning it into a coin worth tens of thousands or more. 

What year wheat penny is worth $1,000,000

The 1943-D wheat (Lincoln) bronze penny is considered the most valuable wheat penny ever sold. At 1.7 million dollars. The 1943-S wheat bronze penny is also worth a pretty penny, at roughly $900,000-$1,200,000 depending on condition.

Are All 1943-S Pennies Worth $1,000,000

No, not all 1943-S Pennies are worth $1,000,000 or more. While exceedingly rare and valuable, the condition of these error coins still plays an important role in their value.  The bronze production of the coins is considered an error, outside the standard, expected production. The coin was made of steel planchets coated with zinc. However, a small group of bronze planchets left over from the production of the 1942 wheat penny slipped into the production process, resulting in the 1943-S bronze penny errors that commend the most money for any of the wheat pennies known.

Most Valuable Wheat Pennies

The following list comprises some of the rarest and most valuable Lincoln wheat pennies. While not associated with what is known as the key dates among coin collectors, these coins mainly comprise minting errors of the wheat cent in mint condition.

1943-D Bronze Cent PCGS MS64BN

Sold Price: $1,700,000

This scarce cent was sold privately to the collector in 2010 for $1,700,000. The coin was accidentally stuck at the Denver mint on a bronze planchet. Approximately twenty 1943 cents had been struck in bronze through the San Francisco and Philadelphia mint. However, this was the only known Denver mint copy.

1943-D 1C Struck on a Bronze Planchet MS64 Brown PCGS

Sold Price: $840,000

This rare 1943-D mint scent which was sold privately in 2010 for $1,700,000, was sold again in 2021 for $840,000.

1943-S Bronze Lincoln Cent, MS63 Brown

Sold Price: $504,000

This 1943-S bronze lincoln cent was one of only six traced examples and was CAC-approved. It is currently the highest-graded example. It was sold for $504,000 in 2020.

1944-S Steel Cent MS66

Sold Price: $373,750

This 1944-S Steel Cent NGC graded MS66 was one of only two known and the only uncirculated example. It was sold in 2008 for $373,750.

1943 Bronze Cent, MS62 Brown

Sold Price: $372,000

This unmarked 1943 Philadelphia mint bronze cent was traced to the 1957 Marvin Beyer Discovery
and was last Publicly Offered in 2003. It was sold in 2021 for $372,000

1958 Lincoln Cent. FS-101. Doubled Die Obverse. MS-64 RD

Sold Price: $336,000

This wheat penny, a 1958 Doubled Die Obverse Cent, was one of three examples. It was sold in 2018 for $336,000.

1944-D Steel Cent, MS63

Sold Price: $115,000

A scarce error coin, this coin is like many error wheat pennies coveted among numismatic collectors. It was sold in 2007 for $115,000.

1909-S VDB 1C MS67 Red

Sold Price: $92,000

This exceptionally rare 1909-S VDB was sold for 92,000.00. It was in exceptional condition with a PCGS rating of MS67.

Are All 1944 Wheat Pennies Valuable

While some 1944 pennies are extremely valuable, such as the 1944-D steel cent, graded MS63, not all 1944 Lincoln cents are valuable. However, they are certainly worth more than a cent.  

What are the key dates for wheat pennies?

While not the most valuable or rarest of the wheat pennies series, these are five of the most common wheat pennies with value that you may come across. Their values heavily range depending on the condition of the coin and the marketplace you are shopping on to buy these coins.

  • 1909-S
  • 1909-S VDB
  • 1914-D
  • 1922 Plain
  • 1931-S

The values of these coins have a large range, and it is possible to find large discrepancies between prices among dealers for these key dates, with values ranging from the low hundreds to the tens of thousands.

What wheat pennies have errors

There are many known mintage errors within the wheat cent series of coins. The top prices for wheat pennies also typically include mintage errors such as incorrect metals used or stamp irregularities that are one-of-a-kind mintage errors or mintage errors in exceptional condition. While there are many, a few of the known include the 1909 S Over Horizontal S 1917 Double Die Obverse, 1922 No D 1944 D D Over S are all examples of wheat pennies with errors. 1909 S Over Horizontal S is an error because the 1909 was supposed to have a vertical S while the 1919 had a horizontal S. 1917 Double Die Obverse is an error because the word “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” are doubled. 1922 No D is an error because the mint mark was not included on some of the coins. 1944 D D Over S is an error because the mint mark was struck over another mint mark. All of these errors can be found on wheat pennies and can be worth more than a regular penny. The 1955 doubled die obverse is one of the most famous varieties of U.S. coins. It is a result of a Mint error in which the die that was used to strike the coin was unintentionally doubled. As a result, the image on the coin is doubled as well. The coin is highly coveted by collectors and is worth significantly more than its face value. The 1955 doubled die obverse is a classic example of a Mint error that has gone on to become a highly sought-after collector’s item.

What's the rarest wheat penny

The rarest penny is the 1943-D bronze penny. It has a value between $840,000-$1,700,000. There is only one known copy.

How can you tell if a wheat penny is rare

Rare wheat pennies are typically Lincoln cents, either in exceptional condition and usually graded at or above MS66 or minting errors of low mintage. The best way to check if your wheat penny is rare is to memorize what minting errors and key dates are of value or research each coin you come across. After going through your collections for a few years, you will quickly notice condition and minting errors that make wheat cents rare and valued among American coinage.

Reading And More Information

Author, coin specialist, and numismatist James Bucki has written many excellent articles on coins and pennies. He writes for The Spruce Crafts. Professional grading service PCGS is a great resource and performs world-class grading services for coins. NGC also provides expert coin guides and grading services. They also offer a world-class price guide for graded coins. 

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