Lincoln Wheat Penny Key Dates, Rarities and Varieties

Learn to Identify the Most Valuable Lincoln Wheat Cents

Knowing which Lincoln Wheat pennies are key dates, rarities or varieties will help you appreciate that a small difference on a coin can mean large differences in its value. Listed below are descriptions of each type of Lincoln cent with a photo to help you recognize the coin. Many factors go into determining the value of a coin and some of them are quite valuable while others are not. Look at the pictures and read each description carefully so you can identify these coins. Please refer to the Lin...MOREcoln Wheat Penny value and price guide for current market trends of these coins. Additionally, there are many minor varieties that are only collected by specialist and experts and are not listed here. Listed below are the varieties that are most sought after by regular coin collectors.

  • 01 of 11
    1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent
    1909-S VDB Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    In 1909 the United States Mint stopped producing Indian Head pennies and started producing Lincoln cents. This new penny was designed by Victor David Brenner at the request of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. Brenner's redesign was met with some resistance, specifically from Chief Engraver Charles Barber. Originally, the obverse of the coin contained Brenner's signature. This was removed at the request of Mint Director Frank A. Leech. Instead, Brenner added his initials "V.D.B." to the...MORE reverse of the coin at the bottom between the stalks of the wheat ears. Given the limited capacity of the San Francisco Mint in 1909, only 484,000 coins were produced. This coin is easily identified by the "S" under the date on the obverse and Brenner's initials "V.D.B." on the reverse. Beware of counterfeit and altered coins. Given the high value of this coin, only certified coins from third party grading services should be purchased.

    High-resolution photo of the 1909-S VDB

  • 02 of 11
    Lincoln Wheat Penny
    Lincoln Wheat penny. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    After the mint's Chief Engraver Charles Barber saw that the new Lincoln cent had all three of Victor D. Brenner's initials on the reverse, he vehemently petitioned the Mint Director to have them removed. Since the late 1800s, only Barber's first initial of his last name ("B") appeared on the coins that he designed. New reverse dies were manufactured and sent to the San Francisco mint facility. Unfortunately, there was only enough time left in the year to mint 1,825,000 coins....MORE Compared to the almost 73,000,000 coins minted in Philadelphia this amount is relatively small.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $50
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $210
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $80
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $320

    High-resolutionHigh resolution photo of the 1909-S

  • 03 of 11
    1909-S Over Horizontal S Lincoln Cent
    1909-S over horizontal S Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    Up until 1990, mint employees used a small letter punch to add the mint mark to the working die by hand. Although very precise in their work, the exact position of the mint Mark tended to vary. Additionally, sometimes employees punched the wrong letter or oriented the letter in the wrong position. Since coin die production was a very manual labor intensive process, dies that had mintmark mistakes on them were not scrapped but fixed so that a proper mintmark would appear. Regrettably, the mistake...MORE was not always completely removed and some remnants of the mistake remained underneath the new mintmark. This is numismatically referred to as a "re-punched mintmark" or RPM.

    In this example, you can see the remnants of an "S" that was punched horizontally into the die instead of vertically. Look for the remnants of the previous mintmark near the upper loop of the S.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $50
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $240
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $90
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $350

    High-resolution photo of the 1909-S Over Horizontal S RPM

  • 04 of 11
    1914-D Lincoln Cent
    1914-D Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    With the mintage of 1,193,000 coins, the 1914-D does not have the lowest mintage in the Lincoln cent series (1909-S VDB and 1931-S have lower mintages). But experts estimate that this issue has one of the lowest survival rates. Keep in mind, in 1909 one of the reasons that Lincoln was chosen to be the subject of a new small cent was that it was the 100th anniversary of his birth. A lot of publicity surrounded the launch of this new penny and many people saved them. By 1914, enthusiasm for saving...MORE new Lincoln cents decreased and many of these coins ended up in circulation. This is another coin that is frequently counterfeited and altered.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $90
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $2,000
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $170
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $2,800

    High-resolution photo of the 1914-D

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11
    1917 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent
    1917 doubled die obverse Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    Doubled die coins are not double struck and should not be confused with mechanical doubling. Due to a production error in the manufacturing of the working die, two impressions were made that are slightly offset from each other. Look for strong doubling on the obverse in the word "TRUST" and on the date. This is an extremely popular variety and demand for it is growing constantly.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $80
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $3,000
    • Estimated Average Price...MORE Circulated: $140
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $4,400

    High-resolution photo of the 1917 Doubled Die Obverse

  • 06 of 11
    1922 No "D" (No Mint Mark) Lincoln Cent
    1922 No "D" (no mint mark) Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    This is another example of a manufacturing process at the U.S. Mint facility in Denver causing a unique error. If it wasn't for a fire at the U.S. Mint facility in Philadelphia, this error would've never been noticed. Because of the fire, no Lincoln cents were produced in Philadelphia (no mint mark) in 1922. Researchers think that approximately 500,000 coins were produced in Denver without the requisite "D" mintmark. The lack of a mintmark was either due to die abrasion in an...MORE attempt to fix a damaged die and/or a foreign substance clogging the area where the mint mark is supposed to be. This coin is easily altered by counterfeiters removing the "D" mintmark from a genuine 1922-D Lincoln cent. Use caution when purchasing this coin.

    High-resolution photo of the 1922 No "D" (No Mint Mark)

  • 07 of 11
    1931-S Lincoln Cent
    1931-S Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    By 1931 the United States was in the middle of the Great Depression and the San Francisco mint only produced 866,000 Lincoln cents that year. Consequently,​ demand for pennies plummeted and most of them remained in bank vaults for a few years until demand caught up with the remaining supply. Numismatists realizing that this was a rarity in the making took every opportunity to buy bags and rolls of the 1931-S Lincoln cent and save them. Although this is the second lowest mintage in the Lincoln...MORE Wheat cent series, mint state coins, and circulated specimens are readily available to collectors today.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $40
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $110
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $80
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $170

    High-resolution photo of the 1931-S

  • 08 of 11
    1943 Bronze/Copper Lincoln Cent
    1943 bronze/copper Lincoln cent. This is a mint error because it should have been produced on a zinc plated steel planchet. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    In 1943 the United States was gearing up to fight World War II. Copper is a critical war metal used in the production of ammunitions. In order to help the war effort, the United States Mint stopped making pennies using copper and started using planchets that were zinc coated steel. Unfortunately, a few leftover planchets from 1942 slipped through the process and resulted in 1943 pennies made on a bronze planchet. Beware of altered coins made by copper plating genuine 1943 steel cents or from...MORE 1948 Lincoln cents by removing the left side of the 8 to make it look like a 3.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $14,000 - $50,000
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $90,000 - $210,000
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $25,000 - $100,000
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $120,000 - $300,000

    Quick Link: ​How to Authenticate a 1943 Copper Penny

    High-resolution photo of the 1943, 1943-D or 1943-S Bronze

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11
    1944, 1944-D, 1944-S Steel Lincoln Cent
    1944, 1944-D, 1944-S steel Lincoln cent. Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    Due to problems with producing cents on steel planchets and rejection by the general public, the United States Mint reverted to the original bronze (copper and tin) alloy. Once again a few zinc plated steel planchets left over from the previous year slipped into the production process. Additionally, the mint was producing coins for Belgian at the time that use the exact same zinc plated steel planchets that were used the previous year. These two situations combined for a prime opportunity for...MORE the mint to produce an error.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $2,100
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $70,000
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $4,000
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $100,000

    High-resolution photo of the 1944, 1944-D, 1944-S Steel

  • 10 of 11
    1944-D D Over S Lincoln Cent
    1944-D D over S Lincoln cent. James Bucki

    As mentioned above with the "1909-S Over Horizontal S" mintmarks were added to working dies by manually punching the letter into the softened steel of the ​die. In this case, a mint employee punched an "S" into the die first. In order to correct his mistake, he tried to remove the "S" and then repunched a "D" over it. Remnants of the previous S mintmark still remain and can be seen by looking at the upper portion of the D. A powerful magnifying glass or loupe will...MORE be required to see this variety.

    High-resolution photo of the 1944-D D Over S RPM

  • 11 of 11
    1955 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent
    1955 doubled die obverse Lincoln cent. James Bucki

    Most notably known as the "King of Lincoln Cent Varieties," the 1955 doubled die obverse earns its title by exhibiting the most dramatic doubling ever seen on a United States coin. There are also examples of less dramatic doubling that can be found, but these coins do not carry the premium value that the "King" has. Look for a very widespread of doubling on the date and the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST."  Due to the popularity of this variety, beware of very deceptive...MORE counterfeits. Authentication is required before you purchase one of these coins.

    • Estimated Average Value Circulated: $500
    • Estimated Average Value Uncirculated: $1,900
    • Estimated Average Price Circulated: $1,000
    • Estimated Average Price Uncirculated: $2,600

    High-resolution photo of the 1955 Doubled Die Obverse