On this page we are going to talk about some rare American coins, in particular about most valuable pennies. These are the 1 cent dollar coins. They are called “Penny” coins, which are nothing more than 1 cent dollar coins, with the same face value as the 1 cent euro coins.
There are some that have really incredible values and quotations if you think that they are only small coins with the smallest possible denomination.
Many of the most valuable penny coins in America were produced in the 20th century. That’s why it’s not so much a strange idea to think of having maybe some hidden in the old piggy banks, or maybe in boxes forgotten in the attic along with old postcards.
Let’s discover together these small and precious wonders of metal and if luck assists us we could have beautiful and “profitable” surprises.
One of the most valuable pennies is worth 1.5 million of euro.
It’s incredible, but it’s just like that. Some 1-cent coins have stratospheric values that far exceed even the hundreds of thousands of euros.
It is fun to consider that these are the smallest coins that are almost never used today. In the past, it was precisely these small cuts that drove the economy and caused the biggest changes in the everyday purchasing economy of the United States of America.
Today, cents are often left in cans or forgotten in piggy banks in the attic or in purses inside the jackets of a closet. Some people don’t even collect their change in cents anymore. Think about tipping a coin worth over 1 million euros, wouldn’t you feel bad?
25 Most Valuables Pennies
So read on and find out together with us which are the most valuable pennies, among all the coins that have been sold at numismatic auctions. It ranges from quotes starting from 100 thousand euros up to almost 1.5 million euros, so hold on strong.
PS: We have entered the value in euros also, for easier reference even if the reference auctions are in dollars. Always remember that the value of a coin depends only on the rarity but especially on its state of preservation. (consult our numismatic glossary to study the various states of quality).
Most Valuable Pennies: 1914-S Lincoln Penny
It is 1 cent of dollar with Lincoln of 1914, coined in over 4 million copies but still in excellent condition. It is precisely the quality that distinguishes this currency and makes its economic value levitate. Coins that are 100 years old and so carefully preserved are a small treasure for numismatic collectors.
Value: $105,800 (Heritage Auction 2006) – 95,000€
Grade: PCGS MS-66 Red
Most Valuable Pennies: 1944-D Lincoln Penny on Steel
Coined in over 430 million copies, this coin does not seem to have anything special about it. What makes it rare is the fact that it was minted in steel instead of normal copper. In fact, from 1944 onwards we have returned to the classic use of copper. For this reason, these American steel pennies are really sought after and paid very well by collectors.
Value: $115,000 (Heritage Auction 2007) – 103,000€
Grade: NGC MS-63
Most Valuable Pennies: 1909-S Lincoln VDB Penny
This coin replaces the cent with the head of an Indian and represents President Lincoln. The author of the design, Victor David Brenner, put his signature, or rather his initials, under the two ears of wheat in the reverse (V.D.B.)
Since you could not put 3 initials to sign the coin, but at most 2, the Department of the American Treasury requested the withdrawal and removal of the initials. However, about 500,000 coins had already been minted and are now very much sought after by collectors for this small peculiarity.
Value: $117,500 (Heritage Auction 2014) – 105.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-67 Red
Most valuable pennies: 1872 Indian Head Penny
Of these coins were minted as many as 4 million, but since it was the period of economic collapse that was just beginning, people did not save coins nor much less keep them to collect them. It is therefore the exceptional conditions of this coin and its perfect color that make it very rare and of great value.
The same coin as the previous year, i.e. from 1871, is also rare although it has a much lower value.
Value: $126,500 (Heritage Auction 2007) – 113,000€
Grade: PCGS MS-67 Red
Most Valuable Pennies: 1969-S Lincoln Penny–Doubled
A very special currency, so special that when it was discovered (in 1970) the federal government of the United States thought it was a counterfeit coinage. But it wasn’t. It’s a shame, however, that he noticed it too late and began to confiscate the coins sure that they were counterfeit. Eventually, 5 of these very rare (and legitimate) coins were confiscated and destroyed before he realized the mistake.
The particularity lies in the fact that the inscriptions of the right side of the coin are doubled, you can see very well in the inscription “Liberty”. The date is also split but to see it you need a magnifying glass. Whether it is circulated or not it is always about coins of great value.
Value: $126,500 (Heritage Auction 2008) – 113.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-64 Red
Most Valuable Pennies: 1926-S Lincoln Penny
Among the most valuable pennies this is a coin that would seem to have nothing particularly interesting. However, because it was minted in small quantities (it is the second coin with the smallest quantity of minting) and because it is extremely rare to find an example that has not been put into circulation, things change.
If the coin is in perfect condition and has kept its original color, it is worth a lot of money.
Value: $149,500 (Heritage Auction 2006) – 134.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-65 Red
Most Valuable Pennies: 1877 Indian Head Penny
We are in the middle of the period of economic collapse that had affected the American states since 1873. Families struggled to make it to the end of the month and there was no room to save even a few coins, much less to store them for numismatic purposes.
In this period here is the 1 cent dollar coin with the rarest Indian head ever minted. The 1877 penny was minted in small quantities and finding an uncirculated coin is really a rarity.
Value: $149,500 (Heritage Auction 2007) – 134.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-66 Red
The same coin, however, relating to the year 1873 is also very rare and much sought after. The American penny 1873 reaches at auction figures even around 9000€ of valuation.
Most Valuable Pennies: 1914-D Lincoln Penny
We are in the period of the First World War, when the United States, despite everything, is facing a favourable and prosperous economic period. They contribute to the supply of arms and ammunition to the allied countries, especially England and France, both of which were involved in the conflict that began at that very time.
This particular penny of 1914, if not circulated and in perfect and original condition, both in quality and color, is highly rated. Many specimens were preserved in the 30s and 40s and that is why a non-circulated specimen is very rare and sought after.
Value: $152,750 (Heritage Auction 2017) – 137.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-66+ Red
Most Valuable Pennies: 1864 Indian Head Penny–”L” on Ribbon
In a period of uncertain economy and of continuous clashes and battles in the middle of the civil war of 1864, the United States went through a difficult period even if only to obtain the metal necessary for the minting of coins.
The Indian-headed penny was minted from 1859 and from 1864 an “L” was added on the straight side. 5 million have been printed but very few are in mint condition, which greatly increases its value.
Value $161,000 (Heritage Auction 2011) – 145.000€
Grade: PCGS PR-65 Red & Brown
Most Valuable Pennies: 1943 Lincoln Cent Struck on Bronze Alloy
Even these coins among the most valuable pennies, should have been minted in steel instead of copper. This error, probably caused by some copper plates left in the printing machine by mistake, have produced a much sought after specimen even if, as you can see from the conditions, very circulated.
Value: $164,500 (Heritage Auction 2013) – 148.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-63 Red
Most Valuable Pennies: 1856 Flying Eagle Penny
In 1856 in the United States there was an increase in the price of copper that led to the minting of coins of 1 cent to cost more than the same value of the coin. The 1-cent coins, however, were much larger than today and so it was simply decided to reduce them in size to solve the problem.
A small 800-penny lot was coined and submitted for approval and is extremely rare and valuable to date.
Value: $172,500 (Heritage Auction 2004) – 155.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-66
Most Valuable Pennies: 1909 VDB Matte Proof Penny
We have already talked about this coin with the three-digit initials of the author VDB at the bottom. This example is even more particular and extremely rare because, although the coin has been preserved for over 100 years, its colors are always extraordinary and perfect.
Value: $258,500.00 (Heritage Auction 2014) – 231.000€
Quality: PCGS PR-67 Red & Brown
Most Valuable Pennies: 1943-S Bronze
One of the most precious copper cents. Also in this case the coin had to be minted in steel and instead was minted in bronze by the Mint of San Francisco in 1943. This combined with the low number of coins minted have helped to raise its value to the stars.
Also in this case we are faced with a pure accident that took place in the Mint, a mistake perhaps due to some advanced copper plates from 1942 that had remained stuck in the minting system of the press. Mints print millions of coins every year and errors of this kind can happen.
Another hypothesis is that a mint employee deliberately printed a few coins on copper instead of steel and that in some way these were then able to evade the control systems of the mint that must follow strict specifications dictated by current regulations.
You can never be 100% sure of the cause, but one thing is certain, they are incredibly sought after by collectors. A kind of “holy grail” considering the fact that to date there are only 5 known copies of these treasure among the most valuable pennies.
Value: $282,000 (Heritage Auction 2016) with grade PCGS AU-58
1 million of dollar (Aucton 2012) paid by collector Bob R. Simpson with grade MS62
Most Valuable Pennies: 1944-S Lincoln Penny
In 1944 the 1 cent dollar coins had to be minted in bronze and not in steel. It is not known how these galvanized steel pennies came out of the San Francisco Mint. Since it is the only one and the coin is of the highest quality, its value has been affected by classifying it second among the most precious pennies in the world.
Value: $373,750.00 (Heritage Auction 2008) – 335.000€
Grade: NGC MS-66
Most Valuable Pennies: 1943-D Lincoln in Bronze
We are in the period of the world war but this currency was discovered only in 1979. It is the only 1-penny 1943 coin with Lincoln minted by the Denver Mint in bronze alloy instead of galvanized steel. Other equal bronze coins have been minted in the mint of San Francisco and Philadelphia, but only 1 known specimen comes from the mint of Denver.
For this reason, among the rare American coins, the penny in question was sold for the equivalent of more than 1.5 million euros, which has undoubtedly raised it to the world’s most precious 1-cent penny coin.
Value: $1,700,000 (Heritage Auction 2010) – 1.522.000€
Grade: PCGS MS-64BN
Other most valuable pennies:
We have listed the rarest and most quoted currencies among the cents of the dollar but there are many others that, even if they do not reach stratospheric figures, are still valued very much and very rare.
1917 S “Wheat Penny”
The 1917 Wheat Penny. Produced in 32 million copies if circulated is worth less than 1 € but if in perfect condition is worth over 620€ (700 dollars at an auction with MS+ quality)
1869 Indian Head Penny
The 1869 Indian Head Penny. Produced in 6 million 420 thousand copies, if kept well is worth over 50€ and if in perfect condition comes to an evaluation of even 670€.
1916 S Wheat Penny
The 1916 S Wheat Penny. Produced in 22.510,000 copies, if kept in normal and good condition is worth 6 € and if in perfect condition comes to auction even at a valuation of 715€
1921 S Wheat Penny
The 1921 S Wheat Penny. Produced in 15.274,000 copies, if kept in good condition is worth 1,5€ but if in excellent condition is quoted over 760€
1871 Indian Head Penny
The 1 cent dollar coin with the head of the Indian, of 1871 “Indian Head Penny” was produced in 3,929,000 copies. It is an interesting American currency that is worth from 50€ up to over 780€ if in very good condition and if auctioned.
1920 S Wheat Penny
Similar in all respects to the 1921 coin, the 1920 S “Wheat Penny”. Produced in 46,220,000 copies, if circulated it is worth only 50 euro cents, but if in excellent conditions it reaches 800 euro at auction.
1918 D Wheat Penny
The 1 cent dollar coin of 1918 “Wheat Penny” was produced in 47,830,000 copies. It is not therefore the circulation that makes it interesting but the quality: if circulated is worth 1€, if perfect even 800 €.
1870 Indian Head Penny
Another Indian-headed penny that’s highly sought-after.
The 1870 “Indian Head Penny”. Produced in 5,275,000 copies, if circulated it is worth 35 € and if auctioned in perfect conditions it is worth almost 900 €. Other similar coins are:
1872 “Indian Head Penny” – Value 1200€
1909 S “Indian Head Penny” – Value 2000€
1877 “Indian Head Penny” – Value 2800€
1927 Wheat Penny
The 1 cent dollar coin of 1927 “Wheat Penny” has been produced in many copies, namely 144,440,000. The circulating coins have therefore no value, if not a few euro cents. However, those in Brilliant Uncirculated can be estimated at auction even 900 €
1923 Wheat Penny (and related)
The 1923 “Wheat Penny” coin. Produced in 74,723,000 copies, if circulated it is not worth more than 50 cents, but if you auction a specimen in excellent condition you can take it home worth almost 900€. Other similar 1-cent coins are as follows (the values are relative to excellent qualities).
- 1915 S “Wheat Penny” – Value 1050 euro
- 1924 D “Wheat Penny” – Value 1050 euro
- 1923 “Wheat Penny” – Value 890 euro
- 1925 S “Wheat Penny” – Value 1600 euro
- 1924 S “Wheat Penny” – Value 1343 euro
- 1926 “Wheat Penny” – Value 1164 euro
- 1922 D “Wheat Penny” – Value 4500 euro