Skip to Content

19 Valuable Lincoln Memorial Penny Worth Money

19 Valuable Lincoln Memorial Penny Worth Money

Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous US leaders ever. He presided over the Civil War that ended slavery, and there are hundreds of other legends surrounding him. As for the cent that bears his face, it has a regular edition (since 1909) and a memorial edition (1959 to 2008). So let’s check out the most valuable Lincoln Memorial penny and learn its history.

Valuable Lincoln Memorial Penny

1. Penny Coin Laughing Lincoln

Penny Coin Laughing Lincoln

We’ll start by talking about the regular Lincoln penny then dig into the specifics of the memorial coin. The obverse of the coin – that’s the heads side – features a portrait of Abe Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The reverse – tails side – has seven designs.

  • Year: 1987
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $6,738

The regular reverse from 1909 had two wheat stalks with wording between them, so it was sometimes called the wheat cent or the wheat penny. Later, the 1959 reverse depicted the Lincoln Memorial building. And bicentennial pennies came with 4 different reverse designs.

 

2. 1992 D Close AM Lincoln Penny FS-901 RDV-007 MS60 Red Brown

1992 D Close AM Lincoln Penny FS-901 RDV-007 MS60 Red Brown

In a way, all Lincoln cents are memorial pennies, because he was first placed on the coin in 1909 to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth (12th February 1909). He was also the first actual human to be on US currency – previous coins had symbolic depictions of liberty.

  • Year: 1992
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: MS60
  • Value: $2,200

But technically speaking, Lincoln memorial pennies are the ones with the Lincoln Memorial on the tails side. They were minted from 1959 to 2008 before the bicentennial penny took over. These bicentennial designs featured images of a much younger Lincoln on the reverse.

 

3. Rare 1969 d Lincoln Penny Cent – No FG / Floating Roof / Floating Top

Rare 1969 d Lincoln Penny Cent - No FG Floating Roof Floating Top

Not all the bicentennial pennies had Abe on the tails side. As we mentioned, they made four reverse designs. One had the Kentucky log cabin where he was born and raised. Another had the unfinished US Capitol. The other coin reverses have images of Lincoln, but not portraits.

  • Year: 1969
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $2,499.98

On one coin, Lincoln sits on a log reading a book. It shows his time in Indiana when he worked as a rail splitter. That’s the guy who cracks logs for making fences. The final reverse has a formally dressed Lincoln in the foreground with the Illinois State Capitol behind him.

 

4. Rare Errors 1964 D Lincoln Cent: L Liberty on edge, DDO, DDMM & More! Wt. 3.14g

Rare Errors 1964 D Lincoln Cent L Liberty on edge, DDO, DDMM & More! Wt. 3.14g

The latest Lincoln penny reverse is a depiction of the Union Shield, but more on that later. For now, let’s go back to that original wheat penny from 1909. The obverse and the reverse were both designed by Victor David Brenner. And the coins had his initials on them, VDB.

  • Year: 1964
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

At first, these initials were on the reverse, positioned on the lower part of the coin. But they stood out too much and were removed. In 1918, they were replaced by a subtler set of initials on the obverse. The newer, smaller initials were stamped at the cut-off on Lincoln’s shoulder.

 

5. 1972-P Lincoln Cent! Error! Very Rare, Collectible Coin!

1972-P Lincoln Cent! Error! Very Rare, Collectible Coin!

The first Lincoln penny was minted from 95% copper, with the last 5% being a mixture of tin and zinc. That was in 1909. By 1943, copper reserves were diverted towards the war, so the coin composition changed to 99% low-grade steel with a 1% zinc plating on the outer surface.

  • Year: 1972
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,999

After the war, the coin went back to French bronze – that’s 95% copper with the rest in tin and zinc. Then in 1982, inflation led to today’s metal mix of 97.5% zinc with a top coat of 2.5% copper. This copper-plated coin is the lightest Lincoln penny to date, weighing 2.5g.

 

6. 1964 D Lincoln Penny RARE L Liberty on edge Error. Free Shipping

1964 D Lincoln Penny RARE L Liberty on edge Error. Free Shipping

While the design and metal composition of the Lincoln cent has changed over the years, its diameter has remained 19.05mm. That’s ¾ of an inch and is smaller than the original pre-1857 penny that was slightly larger than an inch. Specifically, it was 28.57mm, or 1 and 1/8″.

  • Year: 1964
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,700

The Lincoln Memorial penny was designed to mark 150 years after the birth of Abe Lincoln, and its reverse was designed by Frank Gasparro. He was the Assistant Engraver at the time, but was promoted to Chief Engraver of the US Mint in 1965, and held the position until 1981.

 

7. 1960-D Large Date Brilliant Uncirculated Lincoln Cent. Ships Free. BU Condition.

1960-D Large Date Brilliant Uncirculated Lincoln Cent. Ships Free. BU Condition

In the early days, coins were intended to be practical. Their primary merit was in their melt value because you could slice, chop, or smelt them for their precious metal content. But as the Mint started using base metals (nickel, copper, zinc, etc.), sensibilities started to change.

  • Year: 1960
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: BU (Brilliant Uncirculated)
  • Value: $1,000

So in 1904, Teddy Roosevelt (the 26th President of the US) informed his coin people that he wanted prettier money. He suggested that the Secretary of the Treasury hire a professional artist to design the coins, and his first choice was famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

 

8. Rare 1969 D Lincoln Penny Cent – No FG Initials- Floating Top – Error Coin

Rare 1969 D Lincoln Penny Cent - No FG Initials- Floating Top - Error Coin

Sadly, Augustus died of cancer before he finished his coin commission, so the Lincoln cent ended up in the hands of Victor D. Brenner. And VDB did a good enough job that his obverse is still in use, though the current reverse is by Lyndall Bass. Check for WAMs and CAMs too.

  • Year: 1969
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

VDB was an interesting character. When he first designed the Lincoln penny, he borrowed concepts from French coins, including a tree branch and the standing liberty statue. He spelled United with a V (Vnited) and included his full surname on the coin. All were rejected.

 

9. 1976 Lincoln Memorial Rare Copper Coin One of a Kind

1976 Lincoln Memorial Rare Copper Coin One of a Kind

When the Lincoln cent was released on 2nd August 1909, tons of people lined up to buy some. In New York, you could only buy 100 pennies, and in Philadelphia, you could only get two. This rationing created premium pricing, with folk paying as much as a quarter for a penny.

  • Year: 1976
  • Mint Mark: Smudged
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

Essentially, this means you were paying 25 cents for a 1-cent coin! Eventually, the price settled at a nickel (5 cents), and lots of newsboys managed to snag some. Also, since Victor Brenner was keen to promote himself with large initials, the coins ended up without them.

 

10. 1962 (P) Lincoln Memorial No Mint Mark

1962 (P) Lincoln Memorial No Mint Mark

This point may need further explanation. You see because his surname and/or initials were so visible, government officials and the public objected. They saw it as self-advertising. The idea was to replace his signature with a small ‘B’ but that would cause delays of 3 to 14 days.

  • Year: 1962
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

Also, other coins bore a ‘B’ stamp, but these were designed by Charles E. Barber, the Mint Engraver at the time. He was uneasy about people mixing up his coins with Brenner’s. So despite Victor’s objections, VDB was removed and didn’t reappear until 1918.

 

11. 1971 S 1c NGC PF 69 RD Ultra Cameo Lincoln Penny Top Pop Very Rare 16/0 NR

1971 S 1c NGC PF 69 RD Ultra Cameo Lincoln Penny Top Pop Very Rare 160 NR

This issue of VDB and his initials may have been blown out of proportion. Earlier coin designers like George T. Morgan (Morgan Dollar) and Augustus Saint-Gaudens had used equally prominent identifiers. But Barber had never liked the Lincoln cent so maybe that’s it.

  • Year: 1971
  • Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
  • Grade: PF69
  • Value: $1,026.03

Curiously, coin machine operators claimed the coins were too thick and wanted them slimmed down. The Mint Director, Frank Leach, requested changes. But Charles E. Barber ignored their demands and eventually, the vending machines made their coin slots wider.

 

12. 1991 D Penny / Back Room Holdings / No Match Like It. Well Groomed Coin

1991 D Penny  Back Room Holdings  No Match Like It. Well Groomed Coin

If you’re looking for the most valuable Lincoln cent, a top contender is the 1909-S VDB. Less than 500,000 were minted with his initials so they’re rare. In comparison, more than 28M coins were made at the Philadelphia Mint. Like all Philly coins, they had no mint marks.

  • Year: 1991
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

In 1911, they started minting Lincoln pennies in Denver, so those bore the D mint mark. However, 1922 Denver pennies were made with old dies that were worn out and damaged. They requested replacements but couldn’t get them, so some D coins have no mint marks.

 

13. 1964 SMS Penny It’s A Rare One

1964 SMS Penny It's A Rare One

This bears further explanation. 1922 was a recession year, so San Francisco and Philadelphia didn’t release pennies that year. And because they were busy with Peace Dollars, they could not craft new 1-cent dies for Denver. That’s why the Denver mint resorted to damaged dies.

  • Year: 1964
  • Mint Mark: Unclear
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

Because these Denver penny dies were so old, the D mint mark was faint, and sometimes it didn’t appear at all. So if you find a Lincoln cent marked 1922 without a mint mark, it’s not from Philadelphia. It’s one of these Denver coins, and it’s rare enough to fetch a good price.

 

14. 1972 Lincoln Memorial Penny No Mint Mark

1972 Lincoln Memorial Penny No Mint Mark

While Barber was against these Lincoln pennies, the public loved them. So in 1936, the Mint started making proof sets in Philadelphia. Then between 1943 and 1946, the steel war-time cents entered the market. But the public didn’t like them because they would easily get dirty.

  • Year: 1972
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $1,000

These coins used cheap carbon steel coated with zinc, so when they were exposed to moisture in the air, the iron and zinc would react and corrode, forming spots and stains. Their whitish color meant consumers confused them for dimes (10c) which were mostly made of silver.

 

15. 1966 Penny No Mint Mark Red

1966 Penny No Mint Mark Red

Because war-time cents were retired by late 1943 and early 1944, you can get good resale prices for Denver coins from these two years. Some are bronze and some are steel. A penny marked 1943-D sold for about 1.7M in 2010. Meanwhile, 1943-S coins have fetched $1M+.

  • Year: 1966
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $800

Because of this interest, counterfeiters will sometimes take a coin marked 1943 and coat it with copper. You can use a magnet to identify these fake coins though. Then in 1959, the engravers at the Mint held an internal contest to redesign the reverse of the Lincoln cent.

 

16. 1972 P Small Cents Lincoln, Memorial Reverse PCGS MS-65 RD Doubled Die Obverse D

1972 P Small Cents Lincoln, Memorial Reverse PCGS MS-65 RD Doubled Die Obverse D

We mentioned earlier that Frank Gasparro won this competition and designed the Lincoln Memorial Penny. But while his bosses were pleased, some artsy critics disliked his memorial depiction. They suspected it was because Gasparro had never visited the landmark he carved.

  • Year: 1972
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: MS65 RD
  • Value: $745

Because of the flux surrounding the coin, lots of 1955 Lincoln pennies had double die errors on the date. And by 1960, some pennies had a large date stamp while rarer batches had the dates punched in a smaller font size. The change avoided creating a hole on the 0 from 1960.

 

17. 1982 No Mint Mark Penny Rare Two Shaded

1982 No Mint Mark Penny Rare Two Shaded

The Lincoln Memorial pennies with a small 1960 were highly valued by collectors. About 2M of these small dates were made in Philadelphia before the font size was enlarged. Prospectors would pay up to $12,000 for a sealed bag of 50 pennies hoping to find some small-date coins!

  • Year: 1982
  • Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $700

This price bubble lasted until 1964 then evened out. And while Denver’s small-date pennies were fewer, many more have survived. Of the 1.5B Denver small-date coins minted in 1960, about half a million were small-date coins, and it’s still easy to find Denver specimens today.

 

18. 1987 D Lincoln Memorial Penny .01 Cent US Coin Very Nice Coin

1987 D Lincoln Memorial Penny .01 Cent US Coin Very Nice Coin

You might know that brass = copper + zinc while bronze = copper + tin. So you may wonder why pennies are defined as bronze rather than brass. Well, that 95% copper to zinc ratio was often called French bronze though the true ratio is 91% copper, 6% zinc, 2% tin, and 1% lead.

  • Year: 1987
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $755

But in 1962, the Mint dropped the tin and stayed with 95% copper and 5% zinc, which was a far more stable alloy. Then in 1964, the public began to hoard coins for their (silver) melt value and pennies got stashed as well, although their copper content wasn’t worth as much.

 

19. 1982 D U.S. Penny and Other Rare Vintage Valuable Coins

1982 D U.S. Penny and Other Rare Vintage Valuable Coins

In response to this hoarding, Mint Director Eva Adams removed mint marks from coins. She claimed the coins were being hidden by collectors that wanted specific years and mint marks. So coins from 1965 were stamped 1964, and coins marked 1965 were made in 1966.

  • Year: 1982
  • Mint Mark: D (Denver)
  • Grade: None
  • Value: $799

Mint marks didn’t reappear on Lincoln pennies until 1968. The San Francisco Mint stopped making coins in 1955 though they released coins without mint marks. Later, San Francisco resumed making Lincoln cents from 1968 to 1974 when it switched to collectible proof coins.

 

Do you own any Lincoln Memorial pennies? Tell us all about it in the comments section!