The 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny was the second US coin depicting the same man on both sides. It features 16th American President’s image on the obverse, while his statue is inside the Memorial on the reverse.
Another curiosity is that the 1961 penny value is always higher than these coins’ face value, without exceptions. The secret is in the copper they contain and the increased price of this metal on the market.
1961 Lincoln Memorial penny value
|Condition||1961 No Mint mark penny||1940 D penny|
|Mint state 60||$0.20||$0.20|
|Mint state 65||$0.33||$0.33|
*by USA Coin Book
History of the 1961 Lincoln Memorial Penny
The penny is the US one-cent coin equal to one-hundredth of a dollar. The Lincoln penny appeared as the lowest-value US currency after the discontinued half-cent in 1857.
The 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny was one of the first American coins with the same figure on both sides. It featured Lincoln’s profile on the obverse, like in those pieces minted in two previous years, while his tiny statuette was placed between the building’s pillars on the reverse.
Interestingly, many Americans were initially against that idea because they supported George Washington’s belief. The first US President was convinced that putting the real person on coinage was a too monarchical act.
This attitude among traditionalists changed over time, and the Lincoln penny quickly became one of the most beloved American coins. The first pennies made after Victor David Brenner‘s design had two wheat stalks on the reverse. They commemorated the centenary of Lincoln’s birth in 1909.
However, the idea was to honor this man once again fifty years later. Therefore, Frank Gasparro created the new penny reverse for that occasion with the Memorial instead of wheat ears in 1959.
That was the way to celebrate two events, the 150th Lincoln birthday anniversary and fifty years of the favorite American penny’s existence in circulation. The second design was replaced in 2009 when four pennies with different reverses showing Lincoln’s life stages of life came into circulation.
1961 Lincoln Memorial penny
|1961 No Mint mark penny||Philadelphia||753,345,000|
|1961 proof penny||Philadelphia||3,028,244|
|1961 D penny||Denver||1,753,266,700|
Since Lincoln Memorial pennies minted in 1961 are made of pricey copper, all are worth far more than their face value, regardless of condition. Therefore, they are collectible and worth your attention as a potentially excellent investment.
Features of the 1961 Lincoln Memorial Penny
The 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny was the third coin in the new series depicting the Memorial built in Washington, DC. It was in a group of coins minted in honor of the 150th Lincoln’s birthday and half a century of this lovely penny’s existence.
The obverse of the 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny
The obverse of the 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny is filled with a sizable President’s bust with the encouraging words IN GOD WE TRUST above. On the right is the DATE with the mint mark D below in coins minted in Denver.
Those struck in Philadelphia have this space empty since this mint didn’t have the mint mark at that time. Finally, you can see the LIBERTY word minted on the left portrait side.
The reverse of the 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny
This coin reverse has the Lincoln Memorial in the center, framed with the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above, and the ONE CENT denomination on the bottom. As I have already mentioned, the designer placed the President’s statue inside the building.
Since US coinage is required by law to have the saying E PLURIBUS UNUM struck somewhere, it was between the Memorial and the country name in the upper penny half.
1961 Lincoln Memorial penny
|Face value||1 cent ($0.01)|
|Compound||95% copper plus the remainder of zinc or tin|
|Coin diameter||0.75 inches (19.05 mm)|
|Coin weight||0.10969 ounces (3.11 g)|
|Coin thickness||0.05986 inches (1.52 mm)|
Other features of the 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny
The 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny is 0.10969 ounces (3.11 g) heavy one-cent coin with a plain edge. This copper piece has a diameter of 0.750 inches (19.05 mm) and is 0.05986 inches (1.52 mm) thick.
1961 Lincoln Memorial Penny Value Guides
Since two mints struck an impressive number of Lincoln Memorial pennies in 1961, 2,509,639,944 pieces in total, their value is not exceptionally high. However, a few fantastic specimens with desired red toning attracted collectors and reached high prices at auctions.
1961 No Mint mark Lincoln Memorial penny
With 753,345,000 Lincoln pennies minted in 1961, the Philadelphia mint had the second mintage because the Denver mint produced twice that coin number this year. Therefore, the price of pieces without the mint mark is a bit higher, and you can buy those in the mint state for $2 to $18.
1961 Lincoln memorial penny value
|Condition||1961 No Mint mark red penny||1961 D red penny|
On the other hand, rare coins in an MS 67 grade can be worth $450 for the right collector. Only precious pennies with beautiful red toning cost more, like the 1961 MS 67 RD Lincoln Memorial penny sold at Great Collections in 2013. One collector paid it an incredible $5,720.
1961 Lincoln Memorial penny (proof)
Besides regular strikes, the Philadelphia mint produced 3,028,244 proof Lincoln pennies in 1961. Their price varies, depending on the quality. While most cost $0.25 to $100, those with cameo contrast can reach $175 in a PR grade.
1961 Lincoln Memorial penny (proof) value
|Condition||1961 red penny||1961 red CAM penny||1961 red DCAM penny|
The most precious are rare high-rating specimens with deep cameo contrast. According to the estimations, they can cost $3,500, but the auction record is even higher. One admirer set aside $4,320 in 2018 to get one beautiful 1961 PR 69 DCAM Lincoln Memorial penny with red toning.
1961 D Lincoln Memorial penny
The Denver mint produced a record number of 1,753,266,700 Lincoln Memorial pennies in 1961. Such an impressive mintage results in these coins’ low price on the current market. Their average price range from $0.40 to $15 per uncirculated piece
Surprisingly, the specimen with MS 67 rating is more pricey than the same quality coin minted in Philadelphia. This rare specimen can reach $700 at auctions. However, the auction record is far higher than that. One collector purchased the beautiful Lincoln penny with the D mint mark for an impressive $4,406 in 2014.
1961 Lincoln Memorial Penny Errors
Most 1961 Lincoln Memorial pennies are ordinary, abundant, and cheap, but some rare errors can be sought after and valuable. In most cases, you can find specimens with imperfections typical for the series that are worth some money.
Doubled dies are highly collectible die varieties among Lincoln pennies, and many collectors enjoy adding them to their collections. Therefore, you can expect your 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny to be worth more if it comes with this imperfection type.
Unfortunately, drastic doubled die errors valuable hundreds or thousands of dollars are unknown among Lincoln pennies struck in 1961. However, you can find pieces minted in Philadelphia and Denver with minor double dies on the date and lettering.
Despite insignificant doublings, these coins are still collectible. Since their prices are typically $5 to $20, they are a jackpot for novices and collectors with limited budgets.
If you are a passionate coin collector, you know how desirable and collectible coins with an off-center error can be. Most collectors want pieces with over 50% removed design in their collections, but such coins are rare and often expensive.
For instance, the 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny with a 50% off-center error is worth about $100, sometimes even more. However, only specimens with the visible and undamaged date and the mint mark for the ones minted in Denver are collectible.
On the other hand, pennies with an insignificant 1% to 3% off-center can’t bring extra value. Collectors consider only pieces with over 5% off-center valuable. You can count on paying $5 to $15 for the 1961 Lincoln penny with 5% to 10% off-center.
Re-punched mint mark
As you probably know, the Denver mint hand-punched the mint mark onto the working dies until the early 1960s, including the Lincoln Memorial penny struck in 1961. As expected, such punching by hand resulted in numerous errors, which are highly collectible nowadays.
You can recognize a few varieties resulting from this production way, including:
- Coins with the mint mark initially struck sideways and then re-punched with the new one in the right place
- Rare pieces with the upside-down positioned letter D re-punched with the other letter D in the right position
- Coins with the mint mark placed outside of the regular site, with the re-punched new letter D in the right place
As I have already mentioned, most of these errors are abundant, and their price range is approximately $3 to $5. Only rare drastic re-punched errors can make your 1961 Lincoln penny costly.
For instance, specimens with the D mint mark struck over the previously horizontally minted letter D can be worth $10 to 15 when they are in circulated condition. Rare pieces in the mint mark often bring about $60.
FAQ about the 1961 Lincoln Memorial Penny
What makes a 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny rare?
Like other Lincoln Memorial pennies, coins minted in 1961 are abundant and relatively cheap. However, you can find three rare coin types worth money. The first is proof coins with red toning, perfect condition, and deep cameo contrast worth about $3,500.
The second are pieces from regular strikes in an MS 67 grade that come with the price of $450 to $700. However, the price depends on the mint they were struck. Finally, rare errors like double die and off-center over 50% can bring extra cash under certain conditions.
Which 1961 Lincoln Memorial penny is worth a lot of money?
- The 1961 MS 67 red Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $5,720 at Great Collections in 2013
- The 1961 D MS 67 red Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $4,406 at Heritage Auctions in 2014
- The 1961 PR 69 DCAM Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $4,320 at Heritage Auctions in 2018
- The 1961 D PCGS Genuine BN Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $4,000 on eBay in 2021
- The 1961 PR 65 red Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $1,265 at Heritage Auctions in 2006
- The 1961 PR 69 CAM Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $1,035 at Heritage Auctions in 2005
- The 1961 MS 63 brown Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $576 at Heritage Auctions in 2022
- The 1961 MS 60 red-brown Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $104 at Heritage Auctions in 2003
- The 1961 D MS 63 red-brown Lincoln Memorial penny won an auction record of $72 at Heritage Auctions in 2006
How much did the 1961 No Mint mark Lincoln Memorial penny cost?
The Lincoln pennies minted in Philadelphia typically cost $2 to $18 when they are in top condition. However, rare MS 67-graded coins are worth up to $450. The most expensive is the red-toned specimen with MS 67 rating sold for $5,720 at an auction.
What is the most costly Lincoln penny?
The most expensive 1943 D Lincoln penny was struck on a bronze planchet. It was the only one from Denver among about 20 similar pieces struck with this error. Despite its uncirculated condition and an estimated value of $100,000 to 200,000, it was sold for a breathtaking $1,700,000 at an auction.