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How can you tell rare 1987 pennies that are worth thousands of dollars from those that are only worth face value?
Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell rare pennies apart from common ones — unless you know what you’re supposed to be looking for!
Today I’m going to explain:
- Exactly what you should be looking for on your 1987 pennies
- What the most valuable 1987 pennies are
- Which 1987 penny errors you can find in your pocket change
1987 Penny Facts & Values
The 1987 Lincoln Memorial cent is similar to many other 1980s Lincoln pennies struck since 1982 — the year the United States Mint began striking the coin on a copper-plated zinc planchet (blank).
The obverse (heads side) of the Lincoln penny was designed in 1909 by Victor David Brenner, whose initials “VDB” are seen just under Lincoln’s bust on the coin. The Lincoln Memorial design on the reverse (tails side) of the penny was designed by Frank Gasparro and in use on the one-cent coin from 1959 through 2008.
The typical weight of a 1987 penny is 2.5 grams — though heavily worn 1987 pennies will tend to weigh slightly less.
1987 No Mintmark Penny Value
The 1987 Lincoln penny was struck at the Philadelphia Mint and does not have a mintmark of any kind. Therefore, a 1987 penny with no letter under the date is perfectly normal.
A total of 4,682,466,931 were made — making this coin extremely common.
Circulated (worn) 1987 pennies without errors or varieties are worth only their face value and are worth spending as regular money — instead of saving them.
Uncirculated 1987 pennies (those with no wear) are generally worth 10 to 30 cents. A handful of 1987 Lincoln cents are worth much more — with the nicest examples selling for hundreds of dollars!
That was certainly the case with the most valuable 1987 penny without a mint mark. It was graded by MS68RD by Professional Coin Grading Service and sold at auction in 2008 for a whopping $546!
1987-D Penny Value
The 1987-D Lincoln penny was struck at the Denver Mint and carries a small “D” mintmark under the date.
The 1987-D penny, like its counterpart from Philly, is a highly common coin. It saw a mintage of 4,879,389,514 — nearly 5 billion coins, with a “B.”
Over the years, many 1987-D pennies have been lost to time — some destroyed by fire and devastation, damaged beyond recognition, or simply thrown away. But there are still plenty around for collectors today!
All circulated 1987-D pennies are worth face value if worn and not presenting any errors or varieties.
Most uncirculated 1987-D Lincoln cents are worth between 10 and 30 cents.
The all-time record price for a 1987-D penny was paid in 2013 — when a deep-pocketed collector spent $1,998 to buy a specimen certified by Professional Coin Grading Service MS68RD.
1987-S Proof Penny Value
The U.S. Mint struck a limited number of special 1987 pennies for collectors who wanted extra-nice examples of the coin for their collections. These special coins, known as proofs, have been struck almost every year since the mid-1850s and are offered at a price above face value from the United States Mint.
Modern proofs, such as the 1987 penny, are made on special high-tonnage presses that strike the coin usually twice (or even more) to produce a coin of outstanding quality and with exquisite detail — ensuring that every part of the design appears. The dies, which contain the design struck onto the blank coins, are specially prepared and the blanks themselves are also polished — producing coins with nearly mirror-like reflectivity!
The San Francisco Mint struck 4,227,728 1987-S proof pennies. These were all sold in 1987 proof sets, which also contain proof examples of other 1987 coinage.
While only a relatively small number of 1987-S pennies were made, they are in plentiful supply among collectors and can usually be bought from a coin dealer for $1 to $3 each.
The most valuable 1987-S penny ever sold at public auction was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as PR70DCAM. It traded hands in 2004 for $2,070!
IMPORTANT: Do You Know The Grade Of Your Penny?
To determine the true value of your 1987 penny, you first need to know what condition (or grade) your coin is in.
A List Of Valuable 1987 Penny Errors
Search your pocket change enough and you’re sure to find some unusual coins.
It can take years of coin collecting know-how and experience to be able to immediately tell if the weird coin you have is a bona fide error or simply post-mint damage.
If you’d like to start searching for valuable penny errors, these 1987 error pennies are definitely worth looking for:
1987 Doubled Die Penny
One of the most popular errors is the double die penny (more correctly known as the doubled die penny).
Doubled die penny errors contain doubling of some part of the coin’s design and/or lettering. This is due to the die being impressed twice and at slightly different angles or directions in a device known as a hub — which helps create the dies that strike coins.
It should be noted that doubled die coins are not coins that were struck twice on the press, though!
While there are no known 1987 doubled die error pennies that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, there are some that contain light doubling in the lettering, date, Lincoln’s eye, and the columns of the Lincoln Memorial.
Those are the places that anyone looking for doubled dies should closely inspect on 1987 pennies. Doing so could be worth the effort — because some 1987 doubled die pennies are worth $25 to $50 or more!
Other 1987 Penny Errors To Look For
Doubled dies may be among the most valuable 1987 penny errors. However, there are other errors that should be on your radar, as well — including:
- 1987 BIE Penny Error — A small vertical die crack is known to appear on some 1987 pennies in the little space between the “B” and “E” of the inscription “LIBERTY.” These varieties are known as BIE pennies. They are usually worth $3 to $10.
- 1987 Off-Center Penny Error — Off-center pennies are those which are missing part of their design due to the dies not squarely hitting the coin as it was being struck. Off-center errors range from coins that are missing only 1% or 2% of their design to pieces that are almost entirely blank. The most valuable of these errors are usually 5% to 10% off-center, and the most coveted ones are missing around half of the design yet still show a complete date and mintmark (if applicable). A 1987 off-center error penny that’s 10% to 20% off-center will be worth around $10 to $20 while one that’s 50% off-center and has a complete date could take as much as $100.
- Silver 1987 Penny — One of the most commonly reported errors are silver pennies. Find a 1987 silver penny? It’s likely just the result of a common school experiment in which the coin’s outer layer of copper is chemically stripped from the silvery colored zinc core. However, there are reports of some 1987 pennies that were never coated with copper from the get-go — these can be worth $50 or more.
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!