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Is a 1936 penny worth more than face value?
Yes! In fact, you may be surprised to learn that 1936 Lincoln cents are worth as much as $5,000 — sometimes even more!
Today, I’m going to show you how to tell if you’ve got a valuable 1936 wheat penny worth a lot of money or a 1936 Lincoln cent that’s worth only a few cents over face value.
There are many factors that go into determining the value of a 1936 penny, including:
- Where the coin was struck — Was it made at the Philadelphia, Denver, or San Francisco Mint?
- The overall grade and condition of the coin — Is it in uncirculated condition or worn?
- The presence of any varieties or errors — Does the coin have any unusual markings on it?
I’m going to help you answer these and other questions you may have about your 1936 wheat penny.
How Much Is A 1936 Penny Worth?
This is probably the question that led you to this article. So I won’t keep you waiting for an answer.
First, you need to know where your coin was minted — here’s how to tell…
Look at the obverse (heads side) of your penny, and check under the date. Do you see a little letter under the date? That’s the mintmark.
If there is a mintmark, is it a “D” or an “S”?
- If it’s a “D” mintmark, the coin was made at the Denver Mint.
- If it’s an “S” mintmark, it was made at the San Francisco Mint.
You don’t see a mintmark?
- Ah, that’s normal, too. That means it was struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
OK, now that you know where your 1936 penny was minted, let’s see how much it’s worth…
1936 Penny Value (No Mintmark / Philadelphia Mint)
1936 pennies from the Philadelphia Mint are quite plentiful and are the most common of all 1936 pennies minted. A total of 309,632,000 were made at the Philly Mint in 1936 — and many are still around today.
- If found in pocket change, your 1936 Lincoln cent is worn. And while they are obsolete, 1936 wheat pennies really aren’t worth very much — perhaps 5 to 10 cents.
- In uncirculated condition, the 1936 penny value is quite a bit higher — about $5 and up.
You may be wondering how in the world you could find an unworn 1936 penny. The fact is many were saved in roll quantities. So there are still plenty available for the coin collectors who need them.
What’s the most valuable no-mintmark 1936 penny?
That claim goes to a 1936 Philly cent graded MS-66 Red by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). That specimen realized $2,862 at an auction in 2012.
1936-D Penny Value (Denver Mint)
1936 Lincoln cents made at the Denver Mint are generally much scarcer than their Philadelphia-minted counterparts — but they’re still common enough to be encountered with some frequency. A total of 40,620,000 were minted, and they’re available in all conditions, ranging from well worn to uncirculated.
- A 1936-D penny that you’ve found in circulation is very likely quite worn. It’s worth about 7 to 15 cents.
- Uncirculated examples are worth approximately $5.50 and up.
What’s the most valuable 1936-D penny?
It’s a 1936 Lincoln cent graded MS-67+ Red by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and approved by Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC). It took a whopping $4,230 at an auction in 2016.
1936-S Penny Value (San Francisco Mint)
Among all regular-issue 1936 Lincoln cents, the San Francisco version is the scarcest of the 3 — with a mintage of only 29,130,000. Still, there are many survivors… certainly enough to satisfy coin collector demand.
- If you find a worn 1936-S penny in circulation, its value is between 10 and 20 cents.
- An uncirculated 1936-S penny is worth around $6 and up.
NOTE: As with most other Lincoln wheat cents, examples of the 1936-S that have their original reddish-orange, like-new color with brilliant luster are worth more than those with a chocolate-brown patina or splotchy red-brown coloration.
What’s the most valuable 1936-S penny?
The record price for a 1936-S Lincoln penny is for an example graded MS-67 Red by PCGS and crossed the block for $5,060 in 2004.
1936 Wheat Penny Errors
While all 1936 Lincoln cents are worth more than face value, the most valuable and rarest are those with errors and varieties. These are some of the 1936 wheat penny errors that can be found in circulation:
1936 Doubled Die Penny
By far, the most sought-after 1936 wheat penny error is the 1936 doubled die penny. There are 3 versions known.
The most valuable is the Type I version which has these characteristics:
- Shows doubling on the obverse.
- Doubling is seen in the inscriptions IN GOD WE TRUST and LIBERTY, as well as in the date.
- The doubling can be easily seen with the naked eye!
The 1936 doubled die penny is perhaps as scarce as the rare 1917 doubled die penny and is far more dramatic in appearance. However, for whatever reason, the 1936 doubled die sells for much less than the 1917:
- In moderately worn grades, a 1936 doubled die cent is worth $100 to $200.
- Uncirculated versions start at around $500 and up.
1936 Wheat Penny With Off-Center Errors
Find a 1936 Lincoln cent that wasn’t struck quite on square — or “circle”?
Well, that’s good!
- Any off-center 1936 pennies are worth a little extra money. Pieces that are 5% to 10% off center are worth $3 to $5.
- If you find one with the date fully visible and 50% or more of the design missing, you’ve just landed a 1936 wheat penny worth $100 or more!
1936 Wheat Penny With Struck-Through Grease Errors
A grease-filled error occurs when oil or other viscous fluid gets caught in some of the recesses of the design or lettering on the coin.
This can prevent the entire design from being properly struck — leaving behind faint or missing details where the grease was.
- 1936 Lincoln cents with these types of struck-through errors are worth about $5 and up to collectors who pursue such pieces.
1936 Wheat Penny With Die Cracks
Hairline cracks may begin showing on aging dies — and these cracks on the die can result in raised lines on the coin. These lines (called die cracks or die breaks) are cool varieties that many numismatists love to collect.
Among the most desirable types of die cracks on old Lincoln wheat pennies are so-called BIE errors — small, vertical die cracks roughly resembling a capital letter “I” and forming between the “B” and “E” of “LIBERTY” on the obverse.
There are thousands of known BIE varieties. So many, that some Lincoln penny enthusiasts collect BIE errors by year.
- Many collectors will pay $10 to $20 for a nice example of a 1936 Lincoln cent with a BIE error.
What About 1936 VDB Pennies?
There really is no such thing as a 1936 VDB penny.
The “VDB” refers to the initials of Lincoln cent designer Victor David Brenner.
He designed the coin in 1909 and had placed his initials on the reverse (tail’s side) of the coin. And his initials can be found on the bottom center reverse of certain 1909 pennies — under the wheat stalks, which symbolize national prosperity.
Not all 1909 pennies contain the VDB initials. So, those that do are distinguished as 1909 VDB pennies — those made in San Francisco that year are called 1909-S VDB pennies and are quite rare and valuable.
Brenner’s VDB initials were removed late in 1909 due to public protest that they were too prominent and resembled advertising. However, the US Mint restored the VDB under Lincoln’s shoulder in 1918, and they have remained there ever since.
Thus, all 1936 pennies have the VDB initials.
Here are some other things that were happening when your 1936 penny was being minted:
- The Great Depression was ravaging families throughout the United States — with unemployment rates averaging 16.9% over the course of the year.
- The hottest summer on record at the time blanketed the United States in oppressive heat — with several states seeing temperatures above 120 degrees and more than 5,000 Americans dying due to related causes.
- Athlete Jesse Owens broke several track-and-field records during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected to the second of his eventual 4 terms as commander in chief.
- The majestic Queen Mary luxury ship sailed on her maiden voyage.
- The most popular films of 1936 included Modern Times, My Man Godfrey, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, and The Great Ziegfeld.
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I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!