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Value of Wheat Pennies

The value of wheat pennies demonstrates that the face value of a coin does not always reflect the face amount. In fact, you can say that about all wheat pennies. It's all a matter of the metals used, the scarcity of the penny, and the mistakes you may find on these coins.

Value of Wheat Pennies

History of the Wheat Penny

Part of the value of wheat pennies is reflected in their run. These coins were minted from 1909 to 1958, making them the longest-running production in United States monetary history. Theodore Roosevelt selected the design created by New York sculptor Victor David Brenner.

Brenner's name or at least his initials are important to note because it gives rise to the first of the valuable wheat pennies. In the 1909-S coin, the initials VDB mean the difference between a coin worth a couple of cents to one worth hundreds of dollars or more. The production of the 1909-S VDB coin was soon halted after Americans objected to Brenner's initials being present on U.S. currency.

There were other slight alterations during the course of the wheat penny's run, which have affected the value of specific coins. Mistakes in production such as double dies and overmint marks have affected value simply because the error occurred. Some of these coins may be very limited, adding to their value.

Early Wheat Pennies

Other factors affecting the value include the age and wear of the penny. The oldest coins may be more valuable because there are less of them. Add to that a coin in uncirculated condition, and the value can increase dramatically.

Some early coins to look out for include the 1914-D and the 1922 penny without a D die mark. These coins may also fetch a couple hundred dollars. The 1926-S and 1926-D as well as the 1931-S cents may be worth at least $50, depending upon the condition.

Production Errors

Like stamps, the value of wheat pennies increases with an error in production. The process of making money is closely guarded and monitored. When mistakes occur, the collectors benefit. Double die coins look like some features are doubled. It is often seen in the lettering on either side of the coin. A few coins to keep an eye out for include:

  • 1941
  • 1942-S
  • 1955
  • 1958

The 1958 coin is worth noting for the effect of condition on value. An uncirculated coin could get you thousands of dollars because of its rarity. In circulated condition, the coin may be worth $1,000 or less.

Value of Wheat Pennies

Wheat pennies tell a bit about U.S. history. This is revealed dramatically by the almost legendary 1943 penny. The United States had just entered World War II. Rationing freed up materials for the war effort. Things such as food, rubber, and even copper from pennies were diverted to support the production needs of the war. The penny composition was changed from copper and nickel to zinc-coated steel. However, a few copper coins made it through production.

According to the United States Mint, only 40 1943 steel pennies re known to exist, a major factor, of course, in its value. The coin has a history of fetching high prices. The highest price ever paid for this elusive wheat penny was $82,500 in 1996. Of all the wheat pennies, it is certainly one of the most valuable you can find and one of the most commonly counterfeited coins.

Wheat pennies are valuable for the message of prosperity with the wheat and unity with its motto, E pluribus unum or "Out of many, one." From a monetary perspective, your wheat pennies has increased in value dramatically from its face value of one cent to at least three or four cents. Before you cash in your piggy bank, you may want to check through your coins and hang on to those valuable pennies.