Lincoln Semi-Key Coins vs Key Coins And Their Values

abraham-lincoln-statue“Semi-key” refers to a number of different scarce (but not necessarily rare) coins — especially those which are regularly collected within a whole “series” (every date and mintmark of a certain design) like Lincoln cents, Buffalo nickels, Walking Liberty half dollars, etc.

A lot of people know about the really rare Lincoln pennies:

  • 1909-S
  • 1909 S V.D.B.
  • 1914-D
  • 1922 “Plain” (no mintmark)
  • 1931-S

These 5 coins have represented many challenges for Lincoln cent collectors over the years.

In fact, these are such well-known key coins that even many non-collectors know they have hit it big if they find one of these 5 coins in the attic, a trunk, or even in their pocket change.

However, these 5 Lincoln cents are not the only ones that prove scarce to collectors. In fact, there are many date-and-mintmark combinations which are very difficult to find, cost collectors a pretty penny to buy, and certainly are on the wish lists of many people. Which Lincoln cents are these?

Following is a list of the most-popular semi-key Lincoln cents…

Lincoln Semi-Key Coin Values

  • 1910-S, 6,045,000 minted   ($15-$225)
  • 1911-D 12,672,000 minted  ($7-$550)
  • 1911-S  4,026,000 minted   ($28-$2,000)
  • 1912-D 10,411,000 minted  ($9-$500)
  • 1912-S  4,431,000 minted   ($22-41,150)
  • 1913-D 15,804,000 minted  ($4-$550)
  • 1913-S  6,101,000 minted   ($12-$750)
  • 1914-S  4,137,000 minted   ($23-$1,500)
  • 1915-S  4,833,000 minted   ($20-$1,750)
  • 1922-D 7,160,000 minted    ($16-$375)
  • 1924-D  2,520,000 minted   ($38-$1,000)
  • 1926-S  4,550,000 minted   ($8-$1,750)
  • 1931-D 4,480,000 minted   ($4-$200)
  • 1932  9,062,000 minted    ($2-$50)
  • 1932-D 10,500,000 minted  ($3-$75)
  • 1933-D 6,200,000 minted    ($3-$75)

Prices are accurate as of September 2008 according to Professional Coin Grading Service. Low price range is for “Good-4″ coins, upper range is “Mint State 66″.


Semi-Key vs Key Coins

As opposed to key coins (those which are the most expensive and rarest in a series), semi-key coins belong to the next tier of coins below “key coins.” Still expensive and scarce, just not as pricey and rare as those that prove to be almost impossible for some collectors to obtain.

The semi-key Lincoln cents listed above are becoming increasingly difficult to find in all grades. Some are scarcer in high grades than others. Some Lincoln cents are considered “key” coins in higher grades while common in lower grades. The values listed here are for general “semi-key” Lincoln cents based on relative scarcity and price among all grades.

Over recent years, most of these semi-key Lincoln cents have seen a steady rise in price and demand. While these semi-key coins certainly do not qualify as among the rarest in the series (and some, arguably, are still considered “common” by several enthusiasts) in lower grades, they are no doubt scarce, or getting scarcer.

Most of the semi-key Lincoln cents listed here have mintages of less than 10 million. Lincoln cents are one of the most popular coins to collect as a series — not only in the U.S. but in many other parts of the world, too. Demand overall is strong for these coins, and the value of these wheat pennies is equally robust.

As mintages count only the number of coins made (not the number of coins surviving), it is safe to say that many of these semi-key Lincoln cents have been lost over the decades. A significant amount which survive are damaged, cleaned, corroded, bent, or so worn that they would not be desired by a collector.

While it is possible to find these semi-key Lincoln cents in circulation, the likeliest way to get a hold of these coins is to buy them from a coin dealer.

One of the best books on the market for Lincoln cent collectors is David Bowers’ A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents, published by Whitman.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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  • Anonymous

    i have a 1970 penny with an s under the date is it worth anything or just another penny

    • Anonymous

      Hi Teddy,

      That depends — the vast majority of 1970 S Lincoln cents are worth only face value if worn or a slight premium over that if uncirculated.

      However, there is a relatively small number of 1970 S Lincoln cents with a so-called small date. One way to tell a small date 1970 S Lincoln cent from the large date is the word LIBERTY appears weaker on the small date coin. Also, the tops of the numerals in the date are pretty much aligned in a straight row on a 1970 S small date cent, whereas some of the numerals in the large date dip a bit from the imaginary line across the top of the date 1970.

      A 1970 S small date Lincoln cent is worth about $40 to $50 in uncirculated grades.

  • Anonymous

    what about a 1951 penny?with a s under ?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Alyssa,

      A 1951-S Lincoln penny is actually considered a common coin and is worth 2 to 5 cents in worn grades.

  • todd flowers

    walking liberty half dollar mine has a date of 1914?

    • Anonymous

      Hmm, Todd… The earliest Walking Liberty half was released in 1916. Is the third digit perhaps a ‘4’?

      If yours is a 1944 Walking Liberty half dollar it’s worth about $6 to $8 in worn grades.

  • Taunilau

    what about a 1925-s?

    • Anonymous


      A 1925-S Lincoln cent in typical, worn grades is worth about 20 cents to $1.

  • Wm Tyson

    I have a 1976 copper penny that has a boundary of the State of Missouri etched to the right side of Lincoln’s head with the letters MO inside the boundary. Looks professionally etched. Of my hundreds of pennies, this is the only one of this type! Do you have an explanation? Wm Tyson

    • Anonymous

      Hi, WM —

      Yes, you have a penny that was minted as part of a novelty coin set that was produced sometime in the 1970s or so. Many pennies with dates minting from 1974 to 1981 (of the ones I have heard about) were imprinted with the outlines of all 50 states.

      One reader here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins reported having a set of all 50, and I have heard of many people both here and elsewhere who have found these. I don’t know who counterstamped the state images on the Lincoln cents, but they are worth at least 25 cents to 50 cents each and are particularly marketable to those who collect Lincoln cents and novelty coins.

  • Ian

    I have a 1953-D and a 1913. What are these worth?

  • Kleins914porsche

    I came across a 1934 wheat head penny but has no letter by the date. An ideas what it may be worth?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, Kleins — a typical 1934 penny without the mintmark (which means it was made at the Philadelphia mint) is worth around 5 to 10 cents.

  • jose

    how about the penny 1919-s worht i didn,t see it’s number

    • Anonymous


      A 1919-S penny in typical worn grades is worth around 20 cents.

  • Suza_sh

    Hi, I have a 1943 S steel penny that is off-struck; the right side of the blank is blank, and the right side of the penny  face is on the left side of the blank.  On the back, the wheat side is upside down ( and on the right side of the blank).   What’s up with this?

    • Anonymous

      Hmm, Suza… would you mind providing a photo if possible? You can post it right here in the comments section. Thanks!

  • Maya Smith

    i have a collection of LINCOLN HEAD CENT….. it is a blue nook of some sort… all the coins starts on 1941-1960…. what can u say about that?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Maya –

      Such a collection of Lincoln cents is worth around $3 to $5.

  • Debby

    I have several wheaties, my love for coins goes back many years when I used to sit with my Dad and sort them, looking for the “good”ones. 
    I’m interested in knowing what my 1917 D and 1919 S might be worth.  The 1917 is in great shape.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Debbie –

      What a wonderful memory that must be, looking through old wheat pennies with your dad. The 1917-D and 1919-S are each worth around 10 cents to 50 cents in the worn grades you describe.

  • Ramon Rosario

    we have a 1910 lincoln wheat penny no letter under the year.what is it worth

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Ramon

      A 1910 Lincoln cent in typical, worn condition is worth around 50 cents.

  • Josh Romportl

    I have a 1935 penny and it looks like the “5” has been stamped again to make it look like a “6.” Is there any value to something like this? Thanks

  • Holly

    Hi Joshua, I have a very large collection of pennies ranging from 1910-2000. I have a ton of complete penny books as well as complete rolls of many of those years individually. I am honestly not sure what to do with them or who to contact for values for the whole collection. Any advice on where to start with such an overwhelming amount of them?