Most pennies are worth 1 cent, but to coin collectors, some are worth more than their weight in gold.
Earlier this year, an ordinary looking penny made headlines when it was found among the possessions of a man named Don Lutes. The 1943 bronze Lincoln cent attracted nearly 30 bids and sold for $204,000 according to Heritage Auctions, the organization that conducted the sale.
“The then 16-year-old Lutes received the copper-colored penny in change at his high school cafeteria in 1947. Lutes owned the coin until his death in 2018. In failing health, he consigned it to Heritage. Proceeds of the sale went to the Berkshire Athenaeum in his hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, according to the Dallas-based auction house.
One-cent coins have been around since the beginning of the U.S. monetary system. “Several prototypes for the cent were produced in 1792, including the large Birch cent.”
The finest known 1792 Birch cent sold at a Heritage auction in 2015 for nearly $2.6 million, making it the most ever paid for a one-cent piece at auction.
A penny’s worth depends on its quality and rarity. While most pennies are only worth a few bucks, highly coveted ones might be sitting in your pocket or stuck somewhere in your couch cushions.
The odds are long, but they’re still well worth searching for. So, before you say, “Keep the change,” check to see if you have any valuable pennies:
Only a handful of these bronze pennies have been discovered, including the one found by Lutes. “The most valuable Lincoln cent sold privately in 2010 for $1.7 million.
In order to preserve copper for the war effort, the U.S. Mint switched to making pennies from zinc-coated steel planchets, instead of the usual bronze coin blanks. At least, that’s what was supposed to happen.
As fate would have it, “some of the old bronze planchets got stuck in the big tote bins that the Mint used to feed the coin presses at the end of 1942. “The few bronze coins that were struck went unnoticed and got released into circulation.”
Today, the 1943 bronze Lincoln cent is described as “the most famous error coin in American numismatics” and the odds of finding one are astronomically against. It’s estimated that 15 to 20 are known to collectors today, although it’s possible that there are a few that have not yet been accounted for.
“A nice circulated example, like Lutes’ coin, could sell for around $150,000 to $200,000.
Due to its value, some counterfeits were created with steel cores. If you think you’ve found a 1943 Bronze Lincoln, the Mint suggests testing it with a magnet first. If it sticks, it’s not copper.
Doubled dies are created when the hub imprints an additional image onto a die or stamp causing some misalignment. The doubling occurs from mistakes in the minting process.
The doubling on the 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse is especially prominent in the words “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST.” (Collectors refer to the obverse of a coin as the front or “heads” side usually bearing a portrait.) Also, look for the letter “S” right below the year 1969, which means it was created at the San Francisco Mint.
It is estimated that 1,000 or less were made before the Mint discovered its error. A coin in good condition could go for about $75,000. Last year, one sold for $35,000, according to Coin World, a popular news and analysis website for collectors.
Similar to the 1969 Doubled Die, the doubling on this penny is especially prominent in the words “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” with some light doubling on the date. It’s estimated that at least 250,000 coins released with the doubled die. It was said that a couple of people found these in their pocket change.”
XA used one of these might be worth about $100, while a cleaner one could go for $500. This article was written to give whoever reading this article might decide to check their pennies before letting them out of your sight. Who know you might be lucky and have a valuable penny?