Have a 1942 penny? Want to know its value?
Or, you might inherit some old coins from a loved one. An old coin collection could contain exceptional examples of 1942 pennies — even proof 1942 pennies!
Today, I’ll help you answer the following questions about 1942 pennies:
- What’s the 1942 penny value today?
- Is a 1942 wheat penny worth more than other pennies?
- What’s the story behind the rare 1942 penny that was struck on the wrong coin blank?
- What other 1942 pennies are considered rare?
Current 1942 Penny Value
Most 1942 pennies that you find in circulation are bound to be pretty well worn. Of the hundreds of millions of 1942 Lincoln cents that were made by the United States Mint, relatively few survive today in uncirculated (mint) condition.
Even fewer proof 1942 pennies were made for collectors, and these are considerably scarce today.
So, what is a 1942 penny worth if it’s worn?
What about those proof 1942 pennies?
And what if a 1942 wheat penny has no mintmark?
Here’s what a 1942 penny is worth today and how many were made at each of the U.S. Mint facilities around the United States:
- 1942 penny no mintmark (Philadelphia) — 657,796,000 minted, 5 to 10+ cents
- 1942-D penny (Denver) — 206,698,000 minted, 5 to 10+ cents
- 1942-S penny (San Francisco) — 85,590,000 minted, 5 to 10+ cents
- 1942 proof penny (Philadelphia) — 32,600 minted, $35+
*Values are for worn, but problem-free coins (no cleanings, holes, porosity, etc.). Uncirculated 1942 pennies are generally worth $1 or more.
Rare 1942 Penny Values
If you’re reading this post to find out about rare 1942 penny values, you’ll be glad to know that the rarest 1942 wheat pennies are worth thousands of dollars!
But which 1942 pennies are considered rare?
It depends on what type of rare 1942 penny you’re asking about.
One of the rarest 1942 pennies was brought to light by the family of a former U.S. Mint employee named Albert Michael Pratt. This rare 1942 penny was accidentally struck on a brass planchet intended to be struck as an Ecuador 20 centavos coin (back in the old days, the U.S. Mint struck millions of coins for foreign nations).
While it sounds like an error coin like this would be difficult to distinguish from all of the other 1942 pennies, this really cool wrong planchet penny is actually pretty obvious to anybody with a gram measuring scale.
The Ecuador 20 centavos brass planchet weighs 4 grams — or nearly 9-10ths of a gram more than the standard weight of a regular 1942 penny.
Other rare 1942 pennies are scarce due to their condition.
For example, if you find a 1942 penny in uncirculated condition with few surface blemishes, it might be worth having certified by a 3rd-party coin grading company — such as the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).
To date, the PCGS has graded only 224 Philadelphia-minted 1942 pennies grading Mint State-67 “Red,” while NGC has certified just 457 in that same grade. They’re worth around $150 to $200, maybe even more if you find an especially nice example in MS-67 “Red” condition.
What Else Happened When Your 1942 Penny Was Made?
Where were you in ’42? World War II was raging when your 1942 penny was minted. There were many other events happening around the world back then, too. Here’s a look at a few of the things that were making headlines in 1942:
- Newly introduced United States war bonds raised $13 billion.
- Allied countries began rations programs to help save important materials necessary for winning the war. This helped lead to the introduction of 35% silver war nickels in 1942 and the famous 1943 steel penny the following year. Other nations, including Canada, changed coin compositions to save copper and nickel for the war effort.
- The Alaska Highway, which connects Alaska to the mainland United States by highway, was completed.
- The Declaration of the United Nations was signed — paving the way for the creation of the United Nations in 1945 at the end of World War II.
- The USA Voice of America radio show began broadcasting. (Some 230 million people in nearly 50 nations listen to the program today.)
- Duct tape (originally called “Duck Tape”) was among the wartime inventions that came to life in 1942. Other 1942 wartime inventions were the first nuclear reactor, guided missiles, and instant coffee.
- Top songs in 1942 included “A String of Pearls” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” by Glenn Miller, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” by Kay Kyser, “Jersey Bounce” by Benny Goodman, and “Be Careful, it’s My Heart” by Bing Crosby.
- Popular movies in 1942 were “Casablanca,” “Bambi,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Holiday Inn,” and “Woman of the Year.”
More Info About Old Pennies
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some of our other coin articles that will help you find the current value of all your old pennies:
- Old Lincoln Cents You Can Still Find In Pocket Change
- Old Copper Pennies: Which Ones To Save & What They’re Worth
- Which Old Pennies Are The Most Valuable?
- 5 Popular Wheat Penny Error Coins
- 43 Most Valuable Pennies Worth Holding Onto
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 CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), 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 also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!