Understanding Wheat Penny Value

Understanding Wheat Penny Value
Posted on April 16, 2024 by BOLD Precious Metals

If you are going through your coin collection and find a penny with a bust of Abraham Lincoln on it dated before 1959, do not take it for granted. You might be sitting on quite some cash.

A few special varieties of these coins, known as wheat pennies, can fetch you a great deal at the open market. Determining the true wheat penny value is easy, as long as you look close enough!

Before diving into the value of these coins, let us quickly understand what wheat pennies are.

    What are Wheat Pennies?

Wheat Pennies

A wheat penny is a one-cent coin minted by the US Mint between 1909 and 1958. President Theodore Roosevelt conceived these coins, believing that the then US coins lacked artistic merit.

This drive to design a series of aesthetic coins made him hire some of the best sculptors of the time, including Victor David Brenner, to create the coins that later became known as wheat pennies.

These pennies were the first to have a bust of Abraham Lincoln on their obverse side. This is the same bust we see in the US pennies minted even today. This is also why these coins are called Lincoln cents. Moreover, the coin’s obverse side shows the engravings “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST.” You can see the mint year on the penny’s right.

The reverse section is what gives these pennies their name. The coin’s bulk contains “ONE CENT – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” written in a large font. Two sheaths of wheat surround this text, lending the wheat penny its name.

The wheat sheaths represent wealth and blessings for the US citizens. It can be considered a message of hope to the ones carrying the pennies.

Evaluating Wheat Penny Value?

Not all wheat pennies will give you significant value and make you rich. However, a few special ones can make you thousands in the open market.

Most wheat pennies carry a value of a few cents. If you find them in good and uncirculated condition, they can give you $20 to $30. Having said that, look for pennies with low mintages, specific dates, and errors to get a good deal for them. The most popular rare wheat penny is the 1909-s VDB due to low mintage figures. Out of the 484,000 coins struck, only 20,000 survive today.

Many other rare varieties of these pennies have yielded astonishing values to holders. More on than later.

     What Determines the Value of a Wheat Penny?

Before you trade your wheat penny or purchase a new one, you should know the factors that determine its value.

Here is what you should look for while determining the wheat penny value


A coin is only valid if it is authentic. People often carry counterfeit pennies for years without realizing it. If this is the case with you, your wheat penny will lack any value. Seek the help of an appraisal expert to ensure the validity of your coin.

2. Mints

In almost all cases, the Philadelphia Mint produced the greatest number of coins and the San Fransisco Mint produced the least. Keeping rarity in mind, a wheat penny minted in San Fransisco is likely to bear more value than the one minted in Philadelphia or Denver.

3. Condition

The condition your wheat penny is in will also determine its value. Coins that were circulated enough will be less valuable than the ones in uncirculated condition (or Mint State). This is true only if all other conditions are constant. For example, a circulated penny with historical significance will be more valuable than an uncirculated one without any.

4. Rarity

According to a simple rule of Economics, rare commodities carry more value. Wheat pennies with low mintage figures will always be more valuable than the ones available in abundance.

5. Demand

The value of a bullion coin is subject to the forces of demand and supply. A wheat penny that is high in demand among collectors will carry more value. The same coin’s market value may drop if its demand drops. Various factors influence a coin’s demand in the market, including its appeal, design, historical significance, and more.

6. Historical Significance

If a wheat penny was minted during an important historical event, it is likely to carry more value. For example, the US Mint produced steel pennies in 1943 due to copper shortages during World War II.

     A Quick Overview of the Top Ten Most Valuable Wheat Pennies Auction Records

If you are still not convinced about your chances of making a fortune with a wheat penny, you should have a look at the value certain wheat pennies have carried in the past.

Here are the ten most valuable wheat pennies auction records:

Coin ImageNameAuction Record
1931-S Wheat Penny1931-S Wheat Penny$18,600
1917 Doubled Die Wheat Penny1917 Doubled Die Wheat Penny$120,000
1909-S Wheat Penny1909-S Wheat Penny$69,000
1909-S Over Horizontal S Wheat Penny1909-S Over Horizontal S Wheat Penny$32,900
1914-D Wheat Penny1914-D Wheat Penny$158,625
1922-D No D Wheat Penny1922-D No D Wheat Penny$92,000
1909-S VDB Wheat Penny1909-S VDB Wheat Penny$168,000
1955 Doubled Die Wheat Penny1955 Doubled Die Wheat Penny$114,000
1944 Steel Cent Wheat Penny1944 Steel Cent Wheat Penny$180,000
1943 Bronze Wheat Penny1943 Bronze Wheat Penny$372,000

The Final Word

For decades, wheat pennies have been added to the portfolios of multiple coin collectors worldwide. For the first time, they carry President Lincoln’s image, and many collectors consider this series special. Moreover, special edition coins and coins with errors are no less than tiny treasure troves!

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