The Lincoln pennies are one of the most popular coins among collectors, even though they are the US Mint’s lowest denomination. These coins have historical significance as the first pieces to feature one of the US Presidents’ image. Due to changes in their appearance, collectors have fun collecting existing specimens.
Even though pennies from the earliest period are highly collectible and have the highest values, specimens minted in recent years are also attractive to collectors. Unfortunately, possible damages and traces of wear significantly influence the 1996 penny value, but varieties and errors can increase their prices.
1996 Lincoln penny value Chart
|Condition||1996 No Mint mark penny||1996 D penny||1996 S proof penny|
|Mint state 65||$0.33||$0.33||/|
History of the 1996 Lincoln Penny
The Lincoln penny is a historically significant coin in many aspects. It is known as the first coin with the US President’s portrait on the obverse. Since not a single specimen had an image of a genuine person until then, the American citizens welcomed this decision with amazement.
The first Lincoln penny appeared in 1909 in honor of the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The idea to put his image on the penny came from then-President Roosevelt.
He was delighted with a Victor David Brenner‘s bronze plaque showing the 16th American President’s profile. That was enough for Roosevelt to choose this artist to design the new penny.
However, Charles Barber, the US Mint chief engraver, disapproved of this President’s decision and refused to cooperate with an inexperienced artist. Plus, Brenner’s desire for a complex reverse design didn’t contribute much to a better understanding because Barber wanted a more functional style convenient for minting.
1996 Lincoln penny
|Philadelphia||1996 No Mint mark penny||6,612,465,000|
|Denver||1996 D penny||6,510,795,000|
|San Francisco||1996 proof penny||2,525,265|
Despite the disagreements, the coin remained unchanged for the next 50 years, with only minor design adjustments. In 1959, the reverse was changed to commemorate the 150th Lincoln’s birth anniversary and the 50th Lincoln penny anniversary.
Then-Assistant US Mint Engraver Frank Gasparro designed a new reverse with the Lincoln Memorial as the central motif.
The Lincoln penny composition also underwent some changes since these coins initially contained 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. However, the production of copper coins became too expensive since this metal price began to rise on the stock market in the early 70s.
Additionally, many citizens began hoarding pennies, believing they would profit due to increased prices. As a result, the US Treasury Department approved a change in the penny composition, and they have contained 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper since 1982.
Features of the 1996 Lincoln penny
The Lincoln penny has changed its reverse appearance a few times in history, but President Lincoln’s profile has always stayed on the obverse. Interestingly, the Memorial penny is the only coin with the President’s image on both sides.
The obverse of the 1996 Lincoln penny
The 1996 Memorial penny obverse shows Abraham Lincoln’s right profile occupying the coin’s central part. Although the profile view is quite simple, you can spot that Lincoln wears a shirt and coat over it and has a stylish bow tie.
In addition to the President’s image on the obverse, there are also inscriptions and the minting DATE. You can read the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST along the upper rim and the word LIBERTY on the coin’s left side. The mint mark is under the date.
The reverse of the 1996 Lincoln penny
The reverse depicts the Lincoln Memorial, an imposing structure located in Washington, DC. This building’s architecture is unusual for America because it resembles a Greek temple with twelve Doric pillars characteristic of the ancient era.
All pillars are precisely struck and clearly visible, and you can see the President statue between the centrally positioned ones. This composition makes these coins unique, with the same President on both obverse and reverse.
Along the upper rim, you can read the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the saying, E PLURIBUS UNUM, right below it. The denomination (ONE CENT) is under the Memorial building.
1996 Lincoln penny
|Face value||1 cent ($0.01)|
|Coin weight||0.08818 ounces (2.5 g)|
|Coin diameter||0.75 inches (19.05 mm)|
|Compound||97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper|
|Coin thickness||0.05983 inches (1.52 mm)|
Other features of the 1996 Lincoln penny
The 1996 Lincoln penny composition contains 97.5% zinc, while the remaining 2.5% is copper. This coin has a round shape with a plain edge and a weight of 0.08818 ounces (2.5 g). Its thickness of 0.05983 inches (1.52 mm) and diameter of 0.75 inches (19.05 mm) don’t differ from other pennies minted after 1982.
1996 Lincoln Penny Value Guides
In 1996, the US Mint had a high circulation of regular Lincoln pennies in two mints, while the San Francisco mint produced only proof pennies. The result was a total number of 13,125,785,265 pieces minted that year.
1996 No Mint mark penny value
You can recognize the 1996 Lincoln penny from the Philadelphia mint by the mint mark absence on the obverse. This mint struck as many as 6,612,465,000 coins, which is also the largest circulation of that year. Therefore, they can’t be considered scarce nowadays.
Consequently, these pennies’ value is low. Since they are still in circulation today, you can sell pieces in average condition for their face value. In such a situation, probably the right solution is to continue using them in everyday transactions.
Coins in the mint state have similar affordable prices, and you can buy them for approximately thirty cents. As expected, the auction prices these pennies can reach considerably vary.
For instance, one collector bought the red 1996 MS 68+ Lincoln penny for $2,500 on eBay in 2018. The brown coin in an MS 69 grade was sold three years later for $1,221.
1996 D Lincoln penny Value
The Denver mint struck the Lincoln pennies’ second-largest mintage in 1996. You can quickly distinguish each of the 6,510,795,000 pieces by the letter D struck the right of the President’s bust.
As always, such a high circulation makes these specimens available on the current market, significantly affecting their value. On average, a well-preserved circulated coin is worth only one cent, so you can spend it without thinking.
The situation is a bit different with pieces in the mint state, and you can find them for an acceptable price of 33 cents. On the other hand, auction records can surprise you.
The most expensive specimen is the 1996 D MS 69 red Lincoln penny paid an incredible $3,565 at an auction in 2008. Another collector bought the 1996 D PCGS Genuine penny on eBay for a significantly lower sum of $475.
1996 S proof Lincoln penny value
In 1996, the San Francisco mint minted only proof pennies. You can recognize these coins by the S mark on the obverse, next to Lincoln’s profile. The complete mintage of 2,525,265 specimens is intended for collectors rather than circulation.
1996 Lincoln penny value
|Condition||1996 S proof DCAM penny|
The US Mint most often sells proofs in small sets, and you can find one for a very affordable price. Most are worth between seven dollars and $10. The individual specimens’ value is moderate and ranges from five cents to four dollars, depending on the grade and reflective surface.
Nevertheless, these proofs can reach surprisingly high prices at auctions. The most valuable specimen is the 1996 S PR 70 DCAM cent sold to one collector for $1,610 in 2003.
1996 Lincoln Penny Error Lists and Varieties
Numerous imperfections can appear on the penny surface during the minting process. While some errors can be almost imperceptible, others can be so large and quickly noticeable that such coins never leave the mint. As always, the frequency and error type determine each penny error’s value.
1996 Lincoln proof cent value
|Condition||1996 No mint mark red cent||1996 D red cent|
1996 Penny The Wide AM variety
Most pennies from the Philadelphia mint struck in 1996 are varieties with the so-called Close AM, but there are a certain number of pennies with a Wide AM. You can recognize them by the larger space between these two letters in the word AMERICA on the coin reverse.
1996 Penny Doubled Die
When the die hits the planchet two or three times, a doubling of the design appears on the coin surface. Looking at such a penny, you can quickly notice these doublings if you look at:
- Lincoln’s eye or his tie on the obverse
- Between the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial struck on the reverse
Coins with minor doublings never bring much profit, while specimens with higher doublings can be worth hundreds of dollars. However, most 1996 doubled pennies are worth between $20 and $50.
1996 Penny Off-Center
Part of the design is missing when a coin is neither well-centered nor adequately struck. Some errors are insignificant, so only 1% to 2% of the design is cut off, but the off-center percentage can go up to 90%. Be aware that the percentage directly affects the penny’s price.
The 1996 Lincoln penny with only 3% off-center has negligible value, while those with 5% or 10% off-center can bring you about $10. The most precious pieces are those with 40% to 60% off-center with the visible date and mint mark. They are typically worth between $50 and $100.
1996 Penny Die Crack
Worn or old dies often have cracks on the surface, leaving a raised line on the coin obverse. These cracks can appear anywhere and are often associated with a part of the design.
Lincoln pennies have a characteristic BIE error. That is a small line between the letters B and E in the inscription LIBERTY that resembles the letter I. These pieces are worth between $5 and $15 on the coin market.
FAQ about the 1996 Lincoln Penny
What makes a 1996 Lincoln cent rare?
The 1996 Lincoln cents are not scarce because of their high circulation. These coins have no special features that would set them apart from other pennies minted in other years. Only varieties with the Wide AM can be considered relatively rare.
Which 1996 Lincoln pennies are precious (PCSG)?
- The 1996 D MS 69 RD Lincoln cent (sold for $3,565 at Bowers & Merena in 2008)
- The 1996 MS 68+ RD Lincoln cent (sold for $2,500 on eBay in 2018)
- The 1996 S PR 70 DCAM Lincoln cent (sold for $1,610 at Heritage Auctions in 2003)
- The 1996 No Mint Mark MS 69 BN Lincoln cent (sold for $1,221 on eBay in 2021)
- The 1996 D PCGS Genuine Lincoln cent (sold for $475 on eBay in 2021)
- The 1996 No Mint Mark MS 64 RB Lincoln cent (sold for $60 on eBay in 2018)
How much do 1996 No Mint mark Lincoln pennies cost?
The high mintage of over 6.6 billion prevents the 1996 Lincoln penny value from being significant. In most cases, circulating pieces are only worth their face value, while the value of those in the mint state is slightly higher, only 33 cents.
Which Lincoln penny is the most expensive?
The Lincoln pennies are almost 115 years old, and those with earlier dates can sometimes be expensive. Interestingly, the most pricey are those minted in the 1940s.
The current record holder is the 1943 D MS 64 Lincoln penny with a reached price of $840,000 at auction in 2021. However, some data show that one collector bought this specimen for an extraordinary $1,700,000 during a private sale in 1979.