The 1974 penny is one of the most common coins circulating today. But how much profit would it earn for you if you chose to sell it? Is the coin worth a sale?
Today it’s easy to get 1974 pennies, which makes them cheap. But some rare exceptions will earn you a great profit.
If you own a 1974 error penny or the aluminum version, they are worth a fortune. Such pennies are available in high grades and small numbers.
So, this post will teach you all about the 1974 penny value. You’ll have more confidence before buying or selling any 1974 pennies.
1974 Penny Value by Various Grades
Like any other item in the market, a 1974 penny’s price brings out its first impression. So, let this table give you a perfect guide to the coin’s value. Here, you’ll know the coin’s value as a customer or seller.
1974 Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1974 No Mint Mark Penny Value||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.50 USD|
|1974 “S” Penny Value||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.01 USD||At least 1 USD|
|1974 “D” Penny Value||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.01 USD||At least 0.01 USD||At least 1 USD|
|1974 Aluminum Penny Value||Around 200,000 USD|
|1974 “S” Proof Penny Value||At least 2 USD|
History of the 1974 Penny
The 1974 penny is in the family of Lincoln Memorial pennies. Before even buying or selling this coin, its historical facts will interest you.
As of 1959, the US Mint chose to honor the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln wheat penny. So, the government allowed a new look at the coin’s reverse art.
A great designer, Frank Gasparro, created the new look of the penny in 1959. Frank placed Lincoln’s memorial art on the reverse. It also honored President Lincoln’s 150th birthday.
Still, the 1974 penny celebrates the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. It comes through the bust on the obverse.
The US Mint began making the Lincoln Memorial pennies in 1959. Remember, all Lincoln pennies fall under the US coinage act of 1872.
When making the 1974 pennies, the US aimed to reduce the high cost of striking pennies. So, the Mint began using aluminum planchets to test the new plan.
But after the release, the public didn’t receive the new idea well. Most coin vendors claimed that it was expensive for them. Handling aluminum coins needed new vending machines.
As copper prices fell, the US chose to make the 1974 pennies using a copper alloy. Later, the US government recalled and melted most of these coins. But according to PCGS, the Mint made 16 to 40 units for government officials and never melted them.
But a few pieces remained in the coinage market. Such 1974 pennies have one of the highest prices in the coinage market.
Together, the three US mints struck these coins in large numbers. 4,232,140,523 units came from the Philadelphia mint.
The Denver mint made 4,235,098,000 pieces of the 1974 pennies. It got the highest number among the three mints. Expect the coins to have the lowest rarity.
As for the San Francisco mint, they struck around 409,426,660 units of the 1974 pennies. Remember, the San Francisco mint also struck 2,612,568 proof versions of the 1974 pennies.
Also, Denver Mint struck around 1.5 million 1974 aluminum pennies. Today, it’s not easy to get the 1974 aluminum penny coins. Note that some states consider owning such a coin unlawful.
Don’t be surprised to get it as your pocket change after enjoying your coffee at a shop. It shows why 1974 pennies have a low rarity and price. But if you have the aluminum one, you hold a great treasure.
Features of the 1974 Penny
Understanding how a 1974 penny looks helps you know how much you’ll pay or gain from the sale. Also, it saves you from buying a fake 1974 penny. So, please be keen about the following aspects.
The Obverse of the 1974 Penny
On the coin’s head is President Abraham Lincoln’s bust facing to the right. The words “IN GOD WE TRUST” curl over the portrait. Remember, these words became the US motto in 1956.
You’ll see the term “LIBERTY” at the center, almost next to Lincoln’s suit collar. Expect the year mark on the bottom left, next to Lincoln’s chest.
The beauty of the bust and the lettering will be great if the coin doesn’t have many wear marks. Every letter isn’t close to the edges.
The Reverse of the 1974 Penny
Here, the coins get a perfect mix between their words and the image. The Lincoln Memorial building is almost at the center, with some key details.
You’ll see the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” curving at the top. Below it, in a smaller font, is the older US motto, “E. PLURIBUS. UNUM.”
Frank Gasparro made the term “ONE CENT” curve at the bottom. Such aspects make the penny look more appealing to the eyes when the coin has its luster.
Other Features of the 1974 Penny
The beauty of the 1974 penny doesn’t end on the obverse and reverse. Its body has 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. As for the 1974 aluminum penny, it has 95% aluminum and 5% trace elements.
Also, every copper 1974 penny has a diameter of 19 mm or 0.75 inches. But all 1974 pennies weigh 3.11 grams and are 1.55 mm, or 0.061 inches thick. As for the aluminum pennies, they weigh 0.937 grams.
On the edges of the 1974 penny, expect them to be plain or smooth. Such an aspect applies to both the aluminum and copper 1974 pennies.
You’ll find the letter mark below the 1974-year marks. It is below and between numbers 9 and 7. Remember, only the Denver mint with the mark “D” and the San Francisco mint with the mark “S” have the mint marks.
1974 Penny Value Guides
Getting the correct reason for the pricing gives you complete knowledge of your 1974 penny. Below is the latest guide to various 1974 pennies. It will help you know if investing in the coin is worth your time.
The 1974 Penny without a Mint Mark
When in the good, fine, and extra fine grade, these 1974 pennies will sell at 0.01 USD. It’s because they have a low rarity level. You’ll earn at least 0.50 USD if the coin is uncirculated.
The 1974 “S” Penny
Like the 1974 Philadelphia pennies, these coins have a good sale when in the uncirculated grade. In this high class, their prices start at 1 USD.
The other grades only have face value. But the proof versions sell for at least 2 USD because of their luster.
The 1974 “D” Penny
If your 1974 “D” penny falls below the uncirculated grade, it will only sell for its face value of 0.01 USD. Otherwise, it will sell for at least 1 USD in the mint state.
The 1974 Aluminum Penny
Today, it’s not easy to get a 1974 aluminum penny for sale. But PCGS claims only to have traced one piece with an MS 62 grade and a price of 200,000 USD.
How to Grade the 1974 Penny
As you understand your 1974 penny’s price, its class is also vital. Both collectors and dealers use the PCGS grading system to know a penny’s best value. Here are details of how a coin looks in each grade.
On a proof coin, you’ll see every precise detail on both sides. Such a coin has excellent luster, especially when you place it under the sun.
Getting any wear marks or blemishes on this 1974 penny is difficult. You’ll need a magnifying glass to see if they are present.
Remember, the Mint made these coins to test the new 1974 copper pennies. So, you could only get them into the hands of a few collectors.
PCGS gives them a rating of PR 65 and above. The ratings are high because it’s not easy to get proof coins full of wear marks.
An uncirculated 1974 penny means that it never went through the hands of trade. But still, the coin has a few marks.
The wear comes from the poor keeping of the coin. Also, it can be that various people have sold or bought the coin multiple times.
Expect the coin to have luster but not be as unique as the one in the proof coins. Better still, any 1974 penny in this grade will appeal to your eyes.
Here, the coins get a rating of almost uncirculated (AU) 50 to mint state (MS) 70 on the scale. How high it will be on the scale varies with the level of brightness and wear marks.
Extra Fine (EF)
The 1974 pennies in this class circulated but have some wear marks. People have not used them for a long time and kept them well.
Every detail on the head and tail is visible. Though it won’t have the mint luster, the coin will still look appealing to the eyes.
But you’ll be lucky if the coin has some mint luster. You’ll see slight wear on the coin’s high areas, like Lincoln’s ear, cheek, and jaw.
Some high points of the hall might have some wear signs. The ratings start from EF 40 to EF 49.
In this class, the coins have moderate to heavy wear. It means they have a lot of wear, but the details on both sides are present.
Such 1974 pennies went through many hands for a long time. At this point, the coin has lost its mint luster.
Lincoln’s cheeks and jaw are smooth and almost flat. The pillars in the memorial halls are separate but worn.
Either way, expect the coin to be clear and bold. If your 1974 penny is in this grade, it will have a rating of F 12.
Count yourself lucky if your 1974 penny sells as a collectible in this grade. Such a coin passed through many hands, and people never kept it well.
So, the penny has a vast amount of wear on both sides. The high areas, like Lincoln’s cheeks and the memorial’s pillars, are flat because of too much wear.
All the words and the year mark are now too close to the coin’s edges. It shows that the 1974 penny is old and of low quality.
Such 1974 pennies have a rating of G4. Anything below that shows that the coin has lost its total value.
1974 Penny Errors
You’ll earn a great fortune from any sale of 1974 penny error coins. It’s not the Mint’s mistakes that make such coins sell, but their rarity. So, the following are the most valuable 1974 penny error coins:
The 1974 “S” Penny with a Die Break (Obverse)
Die breaks are common mint errors you’d get on various coin series. But this 1974 “S” penny has an obverse die break and a retained die piece at the back.
On the obverse, the cud cuts at an angle from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. That missing piece is present on the reverse above the memorial. The die break also covers some of the “E. PLURIBUS. UNUM” terms on the reverse.
No collector would wish to pass by this coin without wanting to add it to their collection. It’s a rare 1974 penny error coin.
Artisans at the Mint wouldn’t have made such an error. Its last auction sold it for around 184 USD.
The 1974 Penny with a Double-Head Error
Getting a coin with such a super rare error is not easy today. The coin has two Lincoln heads on the obverse.
What happened in the Mint at that time is intriguing. It was counter-stamped by a third party after all the artisans finished minting.
Most collectors fall in love with this excellent mint mistake. The artisans will notice the coin and melt it when such an error occurs.
But as for this unique 1974 penny, it got into circulation. Though it has close to zero numismatic value, many dealers will buy it.
The 1974 “D” Penny with a Double Die (Obverse)
Artisans at the Denver mint made a 1974 penny with a double die. You’ll see this mistake on the coin’s head.
Its doubling is present in the “D-mint mark,” the “year mark,” and the legends. The errors are easy to see with your naked eyes.
Also, Lincoln’s nose may appear double. Such an error makes the coin sell for at least 25 USD in MS 60 and above. You won’t see the error with your naked eyes.
The 1974 Penny with a Double Die (Reverse)
With this doubled die coin, the artisans from the Denver mint never struck it well on the tail. You’ll see the doubled words on the backside.
Also, the Lincoln Memorial’s stairs and pillars have a double. Such an aspect will interest many coin dealers.
Remember, sometimes you’ll see this error well if the 1974 penny has fewer wear marks. It can sell for at least 25 USD. The correct value will vary with its present looks.
Below are the top concerns people in the coin trading business ask about the 1974 penny. It will give you deeper facts about the coin.
Where Can I buy and sell 1974 pennies?
You can buy, grade, or sell your 1974 penny at various venues. Sometimes, you can visit coin dealers and auction houses where you’ll get coins with their grading. Online markets like eBay and Amazon allow the trading of these coins.
Is it unlawful to possess a 1974 Lincoln penny today?
The US government deems it illegal to own any 1974 aluminum penny. It’s because the government sees it as its property. Though it won’t be your mistake, please offer the penny to the state once you get it.
Is it worth it to look for 1974 error pennies?
All those 1974 pennies with errors aren’t easy to get today. It will be a fantastic adventure if you are on the hunt for these coins. But you’ll spend much time and energy before getting any 1974 error pennies.