The Lincoln penny has spent more than a century in circulation, making it one of the long-lasting series in American coinage. Most collectors like the first series, so the 1939 penny value can be significant when you have a well-preserved piece in your collection.
Since the Great Depression was nearing its end, the Lincoln mintage in 1939 began to ramp up. Three mints produced coins this particular year, but the one in Philadelphia had a record production. That makes coins without the mint mark the less expensive in the series.
1939 Lincoln penny value Chart
|Condition||No Mint mark 1939 penny||1939 D penny||1939 S penny|
*by USA Coin Book
History of the 1939 Wheat Penny
Lincoln wheat penny (Wheatie) occurred in circulation in 1909 after the US Mint struck the first pieces after Victor D. Brenner’s design. President Theodore Roosevelt decided to redesign American coinage and was bold enough to break the rule that real persons can’t appear on the coin’s obverse.
1939 Lincoln penny
|Philadelphia||No Mint mark 1939 penny||316,466,000|
|Philadelphia||1939 penny proof||13,520|
|San Francisco||1939 S penny||52,070,000|
|Denver||1939 D penny||15,160,000|
Wheat pennies were minted to honor Abraham Lincoln and released in circulation in 1909. Interestingly, Americans adored their new penny, paving the way for other coins featuring portraits of significant figures from American history.
Features of the 1939 Wheat Penny
Pennies minted in 1939 are not particularly significant or valuable, but they can be an excellent match for new collectors and those with a limited budget.
The 1939 wheat penny obverse
The 1939 Lincoln wheat penny’s obverse includes Abraham Lincoln’s bust facing right. The word LIBERTY is struck behind President’s back, while the DATE is in front of his chest.
Coins minted in mints, except those from Philadelphia, have the corresponding mint mark below the date. The motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, frames the entire picture from the top.
The 1939 wheat penny reverse
This Lincoln penny is highly recognizable after two wheat ears struck along the right and left rim of the coin reverse. The simple design also includes the ONE CENT and country name in the center, while the required Latin saying is in the top position.
Victor D. Brenner based his design on a desk plaque dedicated to the 16th American President. The engraver finished it in 1907 for Gorham Manufacturing Co.
1939 Lincoln penny
|Face value||One cent ($0.01)|
|Compound||An alloy of copper with a small percentage of zinc or tin|
|Coin thickness||1 mm (0.03938 inches)|
|Coin diameter||19.05 mm (1.75000 inches)|
|Coin weight||3.11 g (0.10969 ounces)|
Other 1939 wheat penny features
The 1939 Lincoln wheat penny is a round coin with a plain edge made of copper alloy with zinc or tin. This 1 mm (0.03938 inches) thick piece has a diameter of 19.05 mm (1.75000 inches), while its weight is 3.11 g (0.10969 ounces).
1939 Wheat Penny Value Guides
Three mints produced 383,709,520 Wheat pennies in 1939, but the one in Philadelphia struck most of them. Thanks to the high mintage, you can expect these coins to be affordable, so even collectors on a budget can add them to their collections.
No Mint mark 1939 Wheat penny
The Philadelphia mint had the highest Wheat penny mintage in 1939 of 316,466,000 struck coins. Their price is always higher than their face value, and most brown specimens cost $2 to $3.50.
1939 No Mint mark Lincoln penny value
|Condition||1939 BN penny||1939 RB penny||1939 RD penny|
|MS 63||$1.75 to $2||$2 to $2.50||$3 to $3.50|
|MS 64||$2 to $2.50||$3 to $3.50||$5 to $6|
|MS 65||$3 to $3.50||$4 to $5||$9 to $10|
|MS 66||/||$10 to $15||$25 to $30|
|MS 67||/||/||$110 to $132|
Those with red-brown shades are a bit more expensive, and you can expect to pay $2 to $15 when deciding to buy one. As expected, the most beautiful pennies are those with red toning.
Their price ranges from $3 to $3,500, depending on the preservation level. However, one piece in an MS 68 grade was sold at an auction in 2006 for an unbelievable $9,775.
1939 Wheat penny (proof)
Any of the 13,520 proof Wheat pennies minted in Philadelphia in 1939 is highly collectible since collectors like these coins. You should set aside $20 to $170 for most pieces, but specimens with beautiful cameo contrast can cost up to $2,400.
1939 Lincoln proof penny value
|Condition||1939 BN penny||1939 RB penny||1939 RD penny||1939 RD CAM penny|
|PR 60||$20 to $25||/||/||/|
|PR 61||$25 to $30||$35 to $40||$45 to $55||/|
|PR 62||$30 to $35||$40 to $50||$55 to $65||/|
|PR 63||$35 to $40||$45 to $55||$70 to $85||/|
|PR 64||$50 to $60||$60 to $70||$100 to $120||$500 to $600|
|PR 65||$65 to $80||$75 to $90||$145 to $170||$800 to $950|
|PR 66||$120 to $145||$150 to $180||$225 to $270||$2,000 to $2,400|
|PR 67||/||/||$1.000 to $1,200||$3,800 to $4,550|
The best-preserved pennies in a PR 67 grade come with a price range of $1.000 to $4,550. However, one red-toned penny won an auction record after reaching $6,900 in 2001.
1939 D wheat penny
Precisely 15,160,000 Wheat pennies came from Denver in 1939, and their price on the current market depends on toning and condition. While most coins are worth a modest $2 to $50, the best-preserved ones in an MS 68 grade with red toning can reach $3,500.
1939 D Lincoln penny value
|Condition||1939 D BN penny||1939 D RB penny||1939 D RD penny|
|MS 63||$2 to $2.50||$2 to $2.50||$4 to $5|
|MS 64||$2.50 to $3||$3 to $3.50||$5 to $6|
|MS 65||$3 to $3.50||$4 to $5||$9 to $10|
|MS 66||/||$10 to $15||$40 to $50|
|MS 67||/||/||$110 to $132|
The most expensive 1939 Wheat penny ever sold is the one with the D mint mark. One collector set aside $11,500 in 2009 to get one beautiful red-toned coin with an MS 68 rating.
1939 S wheat penny
The San Francisco mint had a high mintage of 52,070,000 Wheat pennies in 1939, affecting their price. Most pieces are inexpensive and cost approximately $2 to $40. You can find even the most collectible coins with red toning and an MS 67 rating for $115 to $140.
1939 S Lincoln penny value
|Condition||1939 S BN penny||1939 S RB penny||1939 S RD penny|
|MS 63||$2 to $2.50||$3 to $3.50||$4 to $5|
|MS 64||$3 to $3.50||$4 to $5||$5 to $6|
|MS 65||$4 to $5||$6 to $7||$10 to $15|
|MS 66||/||$10 to $15||$35 to $40|
|MS 67||/||/||$115 to $140|
On the other hand, one collector paid $3,966 for an extraordinary and rare red penny in an MS 67+ grade at Heritage Auctions in 2913.
1939 Wheat Penny Errors
You can recognize a few standard errors among 1939 Wheat pennies, including:
BIE die break
A standard die break error was a result of using aging and worn-out dies for striking coins. The most recognizable error among Lincoln pennies is BIE, a raised line in the word LIBERTY, between letters B and E.
Such coins got their names because this particular line looks like a capital I. The 1939 Wheat penny with the BIE variety typically costs $5 to $10.
This error occurs when the hub imprints the design onto the working die twice. Since it was impossible to do that at the same angle, such a coin came with doubling in letters or design parts. Two 1939 Wheat penny types came with this error:
- The 1939 penny from Philadelphia – The most recognizable variety minted in this mint shows the doubling in the date and word LIBERTY on the obverse. Most are worth about $25.
- The 1939 S penny from San Francisco – Only several doubled die cents struck this year exist nowadays. If you see a doubling in the President’s eyelid, you can be sure that your coin is worth at least $10.
Off-center pennies resulted from the misaligned die. Such pieces’ value depends on how drastic the error is. The 1939 off-center penny with 10% to 20% off-center cost $25, while you should set aside $75 to $100 for those with 50% or more off-center. Be careful since only specimens with the visible date are collectible.
Penny with the re-punched mint mark
Be aware that mint marks were punched onto working dies by hand at that time. Therefore, you can sometimes discover 1939 Lincoln wheat pennies with double letters punched in different places on the coin surface or at various angles. If you have one such piece, you can count on getting about $3 to $5 for it.
Pennies sometimes come with atypical designs or odd letters, including common counter-stamps. Such an imperfection is a post-mint alteration because these coins were sometimes repurposed as coupons or tokens. Many collectors appreciate them, and they are worth about $1 or sometimes more.
Penny with clipped planchets
These pennies were incorrectly punched out of long metal strips that can leave blanks. These errors are actually straight or crescent-shaped cuts on the coin surface and cost $10 to $25 per piece.
FAQ about the 1939 Wheat Penny
What makes a 1939 Wheat penny valuable and rare?
The 1939 Wheat penny is not particularly rare, unique, or valuable, and collectors appreciate them only as parts of the set.
Which 1939 Wheat pennies are the most expensive?
- In 2009, the 1939 D MS 68 RD Wheat penny won the auction record of $11,500 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2006, the 1939 MS 68 RD Wheat penny won the auction record of $9,775 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2001, the 1939 PR 67 RD Wheat penny won the auction record of $6,900 at Superior Galleries
- In 2010, the 1939 PR 66 CAM Wheat penny won the auction record of $4,025 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2913, the 1939 S MS 67+ RD Wheat penny won the auction record of $3,966 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2018, the 1939 Genuine RB Wheat penny won the auction record of $1,530 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2002, the 1939 PR BN Wheat penny won the auction record of $1,208 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2001, the 1939 MS 63 RB Wheat penny won the auction record of $920 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2019, the 1939 D MS 66+ BN Wheat penny won the auction record of $535 on eBay
- In 2014, the 1939 S MS 67+ RB Wheat penny won the auction record of $494 at Heritage Auctions
- In 2022, the 1939 S MS 67+ BN Wheat penny won the auction record of $331 on eBay
- In 2019, the 1939 MS 67 BN Wheat penny won the auction record of $195 on eBay
- In 2021, the 1939 D MS 65 RB Wheat penny won the auction record of $100 on eBay
How much is the No Mint mark 1939 Wheat penny worth?
Most 1939 Wheat pennies from the Philadelphia mint are cheap, and you can get any of them for $2 to $15. Only those with red toning can be more pricey, and their price range is $3 to $3,500, depending on the condition.
What is the most valuable Wheat penny?
The list of the most expensive Lincoln wheat pennies includes:
- 1943 D bronze coin worth $840,000
- 1943 S bronze coin worth $504,000
- 1944 S steel coin worth $408,000
- 1943 bronze coin worth $372,000
- 1958 DDO coin error worth $336,000
- 1909 VDB proof coin worth $258,500