Empty Your Change Jar: These Pennies Are Worth A Fortune

Many of us have heard that it costs more to print a penny than its worth but when it comes to these hard to find treasures it couldn’t be any further from the truth. From a $1.7 million rare penny to more common pennies still worth more than $15,000, these coins can help you pay off your car, student loans, and in some rare cases, even a nice house in the suburbs. Many of the pennies on this list have several errors in common so pay close attention so you’ll know what to look for every time you get change back at the store.

1943-D Lincoln Bronze Penny: $1.7 Million

1943 Lincoln-D Penny
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

The 1943 Lincoln-D penny is worth $1.7 million and that hefty sum is directly related to the rarity of this penny. Only one known mint of this specimen from Denver is known to exist.

The penny was struck in bronze instead of zinc-plated steel since bronze and copper were being used for manufacturing purposes during World War II. While it’s rare, 20 examples may have been struck in bronze alloy at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints. The $1.7 million price tag was the result of a private sale that took place in 2010.

1944-S Lincoln Steel Penny: $373,750

1944-S Lincoln Steel Penny
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

If you get your hands on the 1944-S Lincoln Steel Penny you have a coin worth $373,750 in your possession. The high collector’s value of this penny is once again the fault of bad minting practices, this time at all three mints.

The coin was supposed to be cast in a bronze alloy comprised of 95 percent copper and 5 percent tin. Instead, all three mints accidentally used zinc plated steel planchets to start the coining process. It’s not a one of a kind coin but still rare enough to fetch almost $400,000.

1943-S Lincoln Cent: $282,000

1943-S Lincoln Cent
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

The 1943-S Lincoln Cent is yet another example of a mint gone wrong. The penny was ordered to be struck with a zinc-plated steel planchet but was accidentally cast in bronze.

The penny pictured was produced by the San Francisco Mint and has been rated as the “second-finest certified 1943-S bronze cent.” The coins value was certified when it was sold at Heritage Auctions in February 2016 for a very impressive $282,000.

1909 V.D.B. Matte Proof Lincoln Penny: $258,500

1909 V.D.B. Matte Proof Lincoln Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

The 1909 V.D.B. Matte Proof Lincoln penny wasn’t printed in error but it did draw controversy when it debuted. The coin’s designer printed their initials, “V.D.B.” on the bottom of the coins and critics thought the initials were too prominent.

The initials were eventually removed after approximately half a million pennies were printed. This penny is worth a small fortune because it’s one of only 1,194 that used a matte proof die and included the V.D.B. moniker. This coin sold in 2014 for $258,500.

1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny: $204,000

1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

The 1943 Bronze Lincoln penny was the first to be accidentally printed in bronze, forcing the U.S. Mint to admit there was a mistake made during the creation process of this coin.

The coin shown above was discovered by a teen in 1947 and is believed to be one of nearly 15 pennies known to exist from this lot. A copper-red color version of this coin was also sold at auction in 2013.

1914-D Lincoln Penny: $158,625

1914-D Lincoln Penny
Legend Rare Coin Auctions
Legend Rare Coin Auctions

The trick to landing a 1914-D Lincoln penny worth $158,625 is to find one in mint condition, much like the version shown here. The U.S. Mint created just over one million of these pennies, a very low number for any run.

So why is this particular penny worth so much? Almost all of the coins were placed in heavy circulation, making it almost impossible to find a mint version of the coin. Even if you find a penny is less than perfect condition it could still fetch you about $125.

1856 Flying Eagle Penny: $172,500

1856 Flying Eagle Penny
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

The 1856 Flying Eagle penny marked the first time the American penny was reduced to its current size. Originally, pennies were 19mm in diameter, nearly the size of our current day nickel.

The coin was reduced in size after it became more expensive to create a penny than it was actually worth. The new size came with this design which was only printed from 1856 through 1858. Only 2,000 of the pennies were printed in 1856. The $172,500 price tag is based on a successful auction of a “mint condition” version of the penny.

1872 Indian Head Penny: $126,500

1872 Indian Head Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

We’ve talked about coins with minting errors but the 1872 Indian Head is pricey for the exact opposite reason. Four million Indian Head pennies were minted but they were prone to pressing errors which were plentiful.

In August 2007 the team at Heritage Auctions sold this penny for $126,500. The penny in question was listed in “excellent condition” and was the result of being struck on a new set of coin dies.

1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny: $1 Million

1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

A simple mistake has made the 1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny worth a cool $1 million. Sold in a private sale in 2018, the penny was accidentally minted in bronze.

Other pennies were minted in bronze at the Philadelphia Mint but this penny was the only coin to be certified as a “red” penny during the given year. There is no mint mark on this penny because Philadelphia’s mint didn’t take part in that practice.

1958 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Penny: $336,000

1958 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Penny
Stack’s Bowers
Stack’s Bowers

It’s pretty easy to understand why the 1958 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Penny is worth a — well, pretty penny! The coin was accidentally printed with an error that shows up on President Abraham Lincoln’s face because of a process called ‘double die”

A “doubled die” coin occurs when an image appears to have been “doubled” during the pressing process. If you look closely at this errored out coin you’ll notice a doubling of wording on the face of the coin. With only three of these coins known to exist the $336,000 price tag doesn’t seem to off base.

1944-D Lincoln Penny: $115,000

1944-D Lincoln Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

We’re sure you’ve noticed that mistakes tend to be the most valuable part of collecting pennies and the 1944-D Lincoln is no exception. Like many of the pennies on our list, this penny was struck on a zinc-coated steel planchet that was first used in 1943.

In 1944, the U.S. mint was once again using copper planchets but incorrect mints were created in both Philadelphia and Denver. The penny print in Denver is believed to have produced no more than 10 pennies, including one that sold for $115,000.

1914-S Lincoln Penny: $105,800

1914-S Lincoln Penny
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

This 1914-S Lincoln penny was not in short supply. The San Francisco Mint produced over four million of these pennies. Almost the entire production run was placed into circulation but this particular $105,800 penny appeared to have been preserved immediately after the print was completed.

The bright copper-red color of the penny attracted a buy, who in August 2006, offered the six-figure sum to grab ownership of the mint condition collector’s item.

1864 Indian Head Penny With ‘L’ on the Ribbon: $161,000

1864 Indian Head Penny With L on the Ribbon
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

The Indian Head penny from 1864 was part of a penny series that started in 1859. The coin was produced using a bronze alloy after a severe shortage of copper and nickel forced the U.S. Mint to find an alternative.

There were 5 million of these coins produced but that hasn’t stopped the coin from obtaining a value of $161,000. It doesn’t hurt that halfway through the 1864 production run “L” was added to the tail of the ribbon on Lady Liberty’s war bonnet.

1969-S Lincoln Penny Doubled Die Obverse: $126,500

1969-S Lincoln Penny Doubled Die Obverse
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

From 1959 through 1982 the pennies produced in the United States were made from 100% copper instead of a standard alloy. Among those coins were several that were cast improperly, leading to a double image.

Some of the original coins were destroyed by the United States government, however, some made their way to market and one sold for $126,500 at an auction in Orlando, Florida in 2008. Another mistake that has been worth a pretty penny.

1873 Doubled “Closed 3” Indian Head Penny: $12,650

1873 Doubled Closed 3 Indian Head Penny
Professional Coin Grading Service
Professional Coin Grading Service

The 1873 Indian Head penny increased in value when you find a specimen minted with the doubling effect. You can see the doubling effect this time on the word “Liberty.”

Approximately one million of these coins were minted with the “closed 3” variation and 11 million were minted with the “open 3” variation. It was a red/brown variation of this particular penny that sold for $12,650 at an auction in 2011.

1877 Indian Head Penny: $149,500

1877 Indian Head Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

In 2007 the team at Heritage Auctions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sold an 1877 Indian Head penny for $149,500. The penny was in mint condition which helped the final sale price.

The Indian Head penny started its print run in 1874 but an economic slump in the United States limited how many pennies were printed. When all was said and done only 852,500 of these pennies were placed into circulation, most of which are nowhere to be seen these days.

1922 Lincoln No D Strong Reverse & Weak Obverse Wheat Penny: $48,000

1922 Lincoln No D Strong Reverse & Weak Obverse Wheat Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

The 1922 Lincoln No D Strong Reverse & Weak Obverse Wheat penny is worth $48,000 according to a Heritage Auction sale in March 2018.

Much like several other 1922 Lincoln pennies, this coin is missing the mint mark on the back of the coin. If you look at the penny you’ll also observe that the reverse image is not as sharp on this coin. One man’s mistake is another man’s treasure.

1926-S Lincoln Penny: $149,500

1926-S Lincoln Penny
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions

Another penny with the $149,500 price tag is the 1926-S Lincoln. The penny that sold for this price tag was picked up by a collector in January 2006. The penny was marked as being in “excellent condition” which led to the current price.

If you find one of these pennies in less than the perfect condition you’re still in luck. Only nine other wheat pennies have ever been produced and they were also released in limited numbers.

1922-D Lincoln, No D, Strong Reverse, Die Pair 2: $63,000

1922-D Lincoln No D Strong Reverse Die Pair 2
Stack’s Bowers
Stack’s Bowers

For $63,000 you might be able to get your hands on a 1922-D Lincoln, No D, Strong Reverse, Die Pair 2. This coin was the result of a damaged die at the Denver Mint. The damage caused by the mistake was compounded by the fact that Denver was the only mint printing pennies in 1922.

Before the mistake was caught approximately 20,000 of these improperly minted pennies found their way through production. If you look at the coin you’ll notice that the image on the reverse is sharper than that on the penny’s face.

1793 Flowing Hair Liberty Cap Large Cent Penny: $19,950

1793 Flowing Hair Liberty Cap Large Cent Penny
Stack’s Bowers
Stack’s Bowers

This penny produced in 1793 is worth $19,950 mainly because it’s nearly impossible to find. This larger penny with its Liberty Cap style was the third version of the Flowing Hair coin that was first introduced in 1793 and produced until 1796.

The $19,950 price tag on this penny wasn’t from a prestigious auction house but rather an eBay auction that successfully ended in January 2019.