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The 1973 penny may not be rare, but it is valuable!
In fact, all 1973 Lincoln pennies are worth at least twice their face value — and possibly much more.
Why is a common penny from the 1970s worth more than its face value, even if it’s worn?
In this article, you will:
- See all of the reasons that 1973 pennies are worth looking for in your spare change.
- See a list of rare 1973 penny errors that you can find in pocket change.
1973 Penny Value (No Mintmark)
The 1973 Lincoln cent is a pretty common coin. The Philadelphia Mint struck 3,728,245,000 of these coins without the mintmark in that one year alone!
So, why is a coin that saw nearly 4 billion examples that can be readily found in pocket change with enough searching worth more than face value even when it’s worn?
It’s because these old pennies are made from a bronze composition consisting of 95% copper — a metal that has become rather valuable in recent years. It’s gotten to the point that the value of copper inside pre-1982 Lincoln pennies is worth more than the face value of the coins themselves!
How much is it worth?
- Nowadays, a 1973 penny (yes, even one in worn condition) is worth about 2 cents.
- Typical uncirculated specimens are worth 10 to 30 cents.
- The most valuable 1973 penny ever sold was graded MS67+RD by Professional Coin Grading Service. It fetched $3,850 in a 2020 sale.
1973-D Penny Value
The 1973-D pennies from the Denver Mint have a little “D” mintmark under the date.
These coins saw a mintage of 3,549,576,588.
While 1973-D pennies aren’t rare coins they (like their Philly counterparts) are made from a bronze composition — and they’re worth more for their copper value.
How much is it worth?
- The value of a worn 1973-D penny is pretty much the same as the 1973 Philly penny — approximately 2 cents.
- Unworn 1973-D Lincoln pennies (which are otherwise known as being in uncirculated grade) are generally worth 10 to 30 cents.
- The most valuable 1973-D penny was graded MS67RD by Professional Coin Grading Service and sold for $4,993.75 in a 2014 auction!
1973-S Penny Value
The San Francisco Mint was striking regular-issue Lincoln cents for circulation in 1973. These coins have a distinctive “S” mintmark under the date.
The 1973-S penny is the scarcest of the 3 business-strike 1973 Lincoln cent issues — with a mintage of 319,937,634 pieces.
Even with this mintage (far lower than the billions of pennies struck by the Philadelphia and Denver Mints in 1973), the 1973-S penny isn’t categorically rare. However, the good news is that 1973-S pennies are worth more than their face value, as well.
How much is it worth?
- A worn 1973-S penny has a value of about 2 cents — due to the copper metal content.
- Uncirculated specimens are normally worth 10 to 30 cents apiece.
- The most valuable 1973-S penny was graded MS67RD by Professional Coin Grading Service and realized $2,232.50 in a 2016 offering.
1973-S Proof Penny Value
The United States Mint struck a limited number of proof pennies for coin collectors in 1973.
The San Francisco Mint made 2,760,339 of these special 1973-S proof pennies. They were issued in proof sets — which were sold at a small markup over face value.
While 1973-S proof pennies were never intended to circulate, some ended up in channels of commerce due to people breaking their coin sets apart and spending the coins within them as regular money.
How much is it worth?
- Most individual 1973-S proof pennies are worth about $1. However, there are exceptions.
- One of the nicest examples of the 1973-S proof Lincoln penny ever known was graded a perfect PR70 by Professional Coin Grading Service and traded hands 2004 for a whopping $12,075.
A List Of Rare & Valuable 1973 Penny Errors
Did you know that some 1973 pennies have very cool (and valuable) mistakes on them?
In fact, some of the most valuable 1973 Lincoln Memorial cents you’ll find in pocket change are the ones that don’t look the way they’re supposed to.
These are the ones you’re most likely to find in spare change:
1973 Doubled Die Penny
What’s the first error that most people look for on their 1973 pennies?
It’s safe to say it’s the type of coin error that is often called a “double die.”
While 1973 doubled die pennies are worth looking for, it’s fair to say that there are none known to exist that are considered major and super valuable.
However, there are some minor doubled dies that you should be keeping an eye out for! You’ll want to look for a 1973 doubled die with doubling that is evident in the lettering, in the date, and in Lincoln’s eye and bowtie. Such 1973 doubled dies can often fetch $25 to $100, depending on the magnitude of the doubling.
1973 Off-Center Penny
One of the more common errors is the off-center strike — which shows a crescent-shaped blank portion on the affected coin.
Most off-center errors are only 1% or 2% off-center and, while technically an error, aren’t necessarily drastic enough to bring any extra premium. However, 1973 pennies that are 5% to 10% off-center can bring $10 to $20.
If you find one that’s 50% off-center yet still shows all of its date and mintmark, then you’ve hit the jackpot — because a piece like that is worth closer to $100!
1973 Repunched Mintmark Penny
Back in 1973, U.S. Mint coiners had to individually hand-punch the mintmark onto the working dies, and this led to plenty of room for human error. Indeed, errors happened… And they were typically fixed by repunching the incorrect or mispositioned mintmark with another.
Mintmark varieties are rather minor and common, but they are nonetheless collectible. Most repunched mintmarks are worth between $3 and $10, depending on how drastic the variety and the individual condition of the coin.
1973 BIE Pennies & Die Break Pennies
As a coin die begins to age, it will often show signs of wear and tear — which may include die breaks. These die breaks cut into the surface of the die and are transferred onto the struck coin as raised lines, squiggles, or bumps.
The value of a coin with a die break depends on the size, location, and overall prominence of the die crack itself. Values for 1973 die break errors range from $3 to more than $100. (The latter being the case for a die cud.)
Also, Lincoln pennies are known for a unique type of die break that is called a BIE error. These particular types of die breaks take the approximate form of a capital letter “I” and occur between the “B” and “E” of “LIBERTY.” A 1973 BIE Lincoln penny is usually worth $5 to $10.
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!