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Did you know that all 1961 pennies are worth more than face value? It’s true. So be sure to save and not spend all of your pennies from this year!
Simply because of the fact that 1961 Lincoln cents are made mostly from copper gives them intrinsic value worth more than a penny.
But just how much more than face value are 1961 pennies worth?
Are there any rare and valuable 1961 Lincoln pennies you should be looking for?
I’m going to spell out the answers to those questions for you…
1961 No Mintmark Penny Value
The 1961 Lincoln penny with no mintmark was struck at the Philadelphia Mint — which produced a total of 753,345,000 Lincoln Memorial cents that year. Of course, that’s a lot of pennies. And that’s one reason most 1961 pennies aren’t worth very much — they simply aren’t rare.
So why don’t you see them in circulation all that much?
It’s mostly because people are saving all pre-1982 Lincoln Memorial pennies for their copper content — which makes up 95% of the metallic composition for these coins (with 1961 pennies, the other 5% is tin and zinc). Today, the copper in a typical 1961 penny is worth about 2x the coin’s face value.
How much they’re worth:
- All 1961 pennies with no mint mark (including the worn ones) are worth about 2 cents each.
- Higher-quality 1961 pennies (including the ones that look new) are worth around 10 to 20 cents each.
- The record price for a 1961 no mintmark penny is claimed by a specimen graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as MS67RD. It sold for $5,720 in a 2013 auction.
1961-D Penny Value
The 1961-D Lincoln penny was struck at the Denver Mint and contains a “D” mintmark under the date on the obverse (“head’s side”) of the coin.
The 1961-D Lincoln Memorial cent is the most common penny from that year — with a mintage of 1,753,266,700. With nearly 2 billion specimens struck, the 1961-D Lincoln cent is hardly a rare coin, even though very few seem to turn up in circulation anymore.
As with the 1961 Philly Lincoln cent, 1961-D pennies have been widely saved by the public — due to the value of copper in the coin.
How much they’re worth:
- Worn 1961-D pennies have a value of about 2 cents each.
- Uncirculated 1961-D pennies (the ones that have no wear at all) are generally worth about 10 to 20 cents each.
- The most valuable 1961-D penny was graded MS67RD by Professional Coin Grading Service and sold for $4,406.25 in a 2014 auction.
1961 Proof Penny Value
The United States Mint struck a limited number of 1961 pennies that were made just for coin collectors. These collectible coins, called proofs, were struck on polished blanks by specially prepared dies and have mirror-like surfaces.
Proof 1961 pennies were made at the Philadelphia Mint, and they appeared in 1961 proof sets.
A total of 3,028,244 proof cents were struck in 1961. While they weren’t distributed into circulation, 1961 proof pennies can be bought today from coin dealers. With more than 3 million specimens struck, the 1961 proof Lincoln Memorial cents are very common — and most are not very expensive to buy.
How much they’re worth:
- The typical value for a 1961 proof penny is $1 to $2.
- The most valuable 1961 proof penny was graded PR69DCAM by Professional Coin Grading Service and sold for $4,320 in a 2018 auction.
Rare 1961 Error Pennies To Look For
While most 1961 pennies are rather ordinary and common, there are some rare 1961 Lincoln pennies containing errors and varieties.
Most oddities that you’ll find on your old pennies are alterations or other forms of damage from outside the mint. But there are some legitimate mistakes to be found on your 1961 pennies!
Here are some 1961 penny errors worth lots of money:
1961 Doubled Die Pennies
Doubled dies are extremely popular die varieties — and several are worth many hundreds, even thousands, of dollars!
Unfortunately, such drastic and valuable doubled die errors are unknown among 1961 pennies at this time.
While most of these more obscure doubled die errors are highly collectible, they also remain largely affordable! Typically, such doubled die pennies trade for $5 to $20.
1961 Pennies With Repunched Mintmarks
You want to stay busy for a while? Try looking for the numerous repunched mintmark possibilities on 1961-D pennies!
You see, back in the early 1960s, the United States Mint still hand-punched mintmarks onto the working Denver dies. Since the mintmarks were punched by hand, this left a lot of potential for varieties:
- Sometimes, the mintmark was originally stamped onto the die sideways or even upside down.
- Other times, the mintmarks were placed outside of their regular position or involved something else unusual — and the mintmark would then be correctly repunched over the original, erroneous mintmark.
…and thus, a repunched mintmark variety is born!
Since these types of varieties are relatively common, they aren’t necessarily all that valuable. But they are quite collectible — and they usually trade for somewhere in the $3 to $5 range. Some of the more drastic 1961 penny repunched errors go for a lot more than that.
1961 Off-Center Pennies
There aren’t too many things cooler than a really wild off-center coin error!
These eye-opening error coins are worth looking for — not only because they’re neat, but some are also quite valuable.
While coins that are just 1% to 3% or so off-center don’t hold much extra value, those that are 5% off-center or more are quite valuable! The most valuable types of off-center coins are the ones that are approximately 50% off-center and reveal the coin’s complete date and mintmark (if applicable).
While an ordinary 1961 penny that is just 5% or 10% off-center might bring $5 to $15 in value, one that’s 50% off-center and still shows a complete date can fetch as much as $100 or more.
Interesting 1961 Penny Facts
Want to know even more about your 1961 pennies?
Here are some good-to-know fun facts:
- The Lincoln Memorial penny became the first regularly circulating United States coin to show the same person on both sides of the coin. (Lincoln’s bust portrait appears on the obverse, while a tiny statue of Lincoln is seen sitting inside the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse.)
- The Lincoln cent was originally designed by Victor David Brenner, and his Wheat Ears design on the reverse (“tails side”) was replaced in 1959 by the Lincoln Memorial.
- Frank Gasparro designed the Lincoln Memorial penny reverse.
- Brenner’s initials “VDB” are found just below Abraham Lincoln’s shoulder on the obverse, while Gasparro’s “FG” is found on the reverse just to the right of the Lincoln Memorial near the shrubs.
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!