Do You Have A 1983-D Penny? If So, Then You Might Have The Rare 1983 Copper Penny Worth $15,000!

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It’s true — there’s a rare 1983 copper penny (specifically, a 1983-D penny) that’s worth $15,000.

1983-D Copper Penny
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It’s a coin that many numismatic experts (those who study coins) still don’t fully understand — because it’s unlike any other copper penny the United States Mint has ever made. And there may be more out there just like it!

What’s the story behind these rare copper Lincoln pennies and how do you know if you’ve found one in your pocket change?

Here’s the scoop on these rare error coins

The Story Behind The Rare 1983-D Penny

To understand why the 1983 copper penny is so rare, you need to know something about 1982 pennies.

In the early 1980s, copper prices were rising quickly — so much so that the U.S. government was almost spending more to make the penny than its face value. In other words, taxpayers were on the verge of spending more than a penny to make a penny.

Did You Know?… Metal prices have continued rising since the early 1980s, and now it costs about 1.5 cents to make each penny.

This situation wasn’t exactly new. In the mid 1970s copper prices nearly doubled in over the course of less than 18 months — causing many folks to hoard copper pennies. The penny shortage and the rising cost of making pennies spurred U.S. officials to test new materials for our 1-cent coin.

One of these experiments led to the creation of the 1974 aluminum penny, but that idea was scrapped after backlash from officials in the vending machine industry (who claimed aluminum pennies wouldn’t work with their equipment) and pediatricians (who were concerned swallowed aluminum pennies wouldn’t show up on X-rays).

Copper prices temporarily fell, too, and the U.S. Mint shelved the idea of changing the metallic composition of the penny until a few years later, when copper prices rose once again.

Following debates in Congress in 1981, the decision was made to change the composition of the penny from 95% copper and 5% zinc to 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper in 1982. More precisely, the new pennies would be made from a nearly pure (99.2%) zinc core with an outer layer of pure copper.

Production of the new zinc pennies was phased in throughout 1982, and by 1983 all pennies were supposed to be made from the new composition.

However, mistakes happen…


Apparently there were a few copper (brass, actually — copper and zinc when combined as an alloy is known as brass) planchets, or prepared coin blanks, left behind in the coining press hoppers in 1983. Some of these brass planchets were struck as 1983 pennies!

But there’s an even weirder part to this story…

Some of these rare 1983 copper pennies were struck on planchets unlike any other copper penny the U.S. Mint has ever made.

At least one 1983 copper penny, an issue made at the Denver (D) Mint, was made from a planchet identified by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) as 98% copper, 2% zinc — which is vastly different from the 95% copper, 5% zinc format the U.S. Mint used for decades.

What’s going on?

This rare 1983-D copper penny is likely a type of coin known as a transitional error. In other words, it’s an error coin involving unusual circumstances with its composition during a period when the U.S. Mint was changing the metal content of that coin.

Numismatists are still trying to unravel the mystery of 1983-D copper penny.

But here’s the good news: there are probably more out there, and you could find a 1983 copper penny in your pocket change!

How To Tell The Difference Between A Copper Penny & Zinc Penny

Copper pennies and zinc pennies may look pretty much the same at first glance, but there are some key differences that will help you tell them apart really easily.

For one, they have different weights:

But don’t get too fixated on those exact weights. The U.S. government allows for minor variances in the weight of a new coin. These are called tolerances.

In the case of the rare 1983-D copper penny, it weighs 3.0 grams — which is within the 0.13-gram (plus or minus) tolerance permitted for the traditional copper pennies.

So, if you find a 1983 copper penny that weighs, say, 3.05 grams, don’t spend it thinking it’s “too light” to be a copper penny… It just might be the real McCoy!

How To Determine A Penny’s Weight

Curious how you can weigh your pennies?

There are 2 good ways to weight pennies yourself:

  1. Buy a coin scale that can measure in increments of 1-100th of a gram. Gram scales are really cheap, and many are available for less than $20. It’s totally worth buying a scale like this so you can more easily look for rare error coins such as the 1983-D copper penny.
  2. Try the drop test. All you’ve got to do is drop your penny against a hard surface — such as a wooden table. Copper pennies ring like little bells when they hit the hard surface, whereas zinc pennies make only a dull clicking sound.

TIP: The penny drop test is generally foolproof, but it’s still better to weigh your pennies to really tell which ones are zinc versus copper.

Other Rare Copper Penny Errors

Hopefully you find a 1983 copper penny, but if you don’t, no worries. There are many other rare copper penny errors you can look for.

Here’s a list of just a few of the most popular copper penny errors you may find:

And there could be other rare copper penny error coins floating around that nobody has even heard about yet.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Check your change — and don’t be so hasty to cast aside those post-1982 pennies as non-collectible coins!

More About Copper Pennies

In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you learn more about your copper penny:

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165 thoughts on “Do You Have A 1983-D Penny? If So, Then You Might Have The Rare 1983 Copper Penny Worth $15,000!”

  1. I have a questions about some Penny I found around the my house I have a 1972 S 1945 1968s 1962 1960 1959 1958 1952 1969 1930 nickel. 1953 D Penny 1961 1982 1971s I have a 1943 steel Penny I have about 5 1969s Penny’s maybe some can help me with there value

    Reply
    • Hi, Benjamin —

      Assuming these are circulated (found in pocket change) and have no errors, they are each worth face value. The no-mintmark 1983 cent was made at the Philadelphia Mint.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Jaxon —

      Only if it weighs about 3.11 grams (meaning it would be made from bronze) is it worth anything more than face value.

      Good luck,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Ciara —

      How much does your 1983-D penny weigh? It would have to weigh at least 2.98 grams to be a possible bronze planchet error piece…

      Fingers crossed!
      Josh

      Reply
  2. Hi Ms. Clark,
    I have four(4) 1983 Lincoln Transitional Copper Pennies / two(2) without the “D” mintmark, if you know anyone who’s interested in purchasing them drop me a line or contact me at 1(242)478-3080 thank you.

    Reply
    • Wow, Lorrie!

      This is good news so far… May I see a couple clear photos of the coin to assist further?

      Fingers crossed,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Nehla Nehal —

      Yes, the bubbles are pretty prominent on the 1983 penny. It’s a common problem especially with the earlier zinc cents (which were first minted in 1982). The bubbles are caused by a bonding issue with the copper layer on the zinc core. And some folks pay a small premium for extra-bubbly zinc Lincoln cents. I’d hold it aside; maybe an error/variety collector would be willing to pay a buck or so for something like that. The “FG” is present on the 1992 cent but it’s very light, perhaps due to a grease-filled die. As with the bubble-laden 1983 cent, this is a pretty common issue, though some people do pay small premiums for such errors.

      Cool finds! Thank you for reaching out!
      -Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Ronie —

      I’d love to help you find the value of your coins. Please post clear images of them here and/or provide me with a list of dates and mintmarks so I can help further.

      Thanks!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Zee Zee —

      Was it weighed on a scale with a tenth-gram weight increment or does it measure only in whole grams? If it’s whole grams, it might be that the coin weighs the proper 2.5 grams for a common zinc cent but the 2.5 is usually rounded up to 3 on those scales. This you might want to check again using a gram scale that measures in increments of at least tenths of a gram…

      Fingers crossed!
      -Josh

      Reply
  3. Hi, i was wondering why these pennies are all different shades of brown even though they’re all from the Denver mint circa 1983. I’m unable to upload the picture if there’s another way to do, please let me know. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi, Tanya —

      The images can be uploaded here if they’re PNG or JPG files of fewer than 2 MBs…

      Hope this info helps,
      Josh

      Reply
  4. My father left me what I consider to be a mess! An ammunitions box filled with, what I’m sure is, some really cool stuff. I’ve weighed, and seperated all the 1983 pennies, now looking for double die strikes. What I am finding on the reverse, is that some have melting on the corners of the buildings, blobs on steps and some sort of ghost apparitions to the left of P. Lincoln. Have any errors like this been recorded?

    Reply
    • Hi, Mothra —

      The blobs I see in the photos are the shrubs and hedges by the Lincoln Memorial, which is normal. I do see a minor die break connecting the right side of the Lincoln Memorial to the rim, which is a type of error worth a couple bucks.

      I hope this info helps,
      Josh

      Reply
      • Josh, thanks for being so prompt. I’ve been reading your post for awhile through my endeavor. I tried to capture the blob. It is like the bushes got smeared on the steps. I would like to say my dad never kept anything that was not worth keeping, but sometimes I smh. I wish he would have labled things.

        Reply
        • Hi, Mothra —

          It can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to figure out what he was looking at. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in trying to catalog what your dad had in his collection and aren’t sure where to start, it might be worth taking the collection to a nearby dealer who can appraise it for you in-hand. Those are just my thoughts…

          Wishing you the best,
          Josh

          Reply
  5. I have a 1983 penny with 1982 shown inside is jacket. it was on a coin values but forgot witch one i was watching. they said if i have one of these pennies I am looking at a small fortune.When he was peaking about the penny he also mentioned that there was only 7 of them out there.

    Reply
  6. Hi Josh,this is coin man. When you read my question about the 1983 coin with 1982 in it let me know what you think I’ll also send a pic.

    Reply
    • Hi, Coin Man —

      I think I’ll need to please see a couple of clear photos of your coin to be able to help you further.

      Thank you!
      Josh

      Reply
        • Hi, Coin Man —

          I’m afraid none of these three photos came through in the format they were sent. Could you please try again in JPG or PNG format of less than 2 mb apiece?

          Thank you!
          Josh

          Reply
          • I’m going to try something else I’m regrades in sending the pictures. Sorry for the inconvenience.
            Coin man

          • No worries! I look forward to seeing the photos when you can get them up and hopefully helping you further.

            Best,
            Josh

          • Hi, Coin Man —

            Hmm… This looks like an ordinary 1983 Philadelphia-minted Lincoln cent with a large thumb print on it. If uncirculated it is worth 5, maybe 10 cents. If worn, and there appears to be some light rub on the high points, it’s worth face value. Is there something you see on your end that I may not be catching here in the photo? Please describe further is so.

            Thanks!
            Josh

          • Hi Joshua ,Yes ! In his jacket shows 1982 which was the transitional year.(in the bottom right corner) please look into this it’s a money coin not to pass on .

            Thank you ,
            Coin Man

          • Hi, Coin Man —

            I don’t see the date “1982” in Lincoln’s suit in the photo… Where in his suit are you seeing this?

            Thanks,
            Josh

          • Hi Joshua this is Coin Man. Let’s just say,if that was a fingerprint how did it get there ? That make it more special ,unique and rare.? I believe there’s a lot a lot to that coin.

          • Hi, Coin Man —

            The fingerprint could have been left on the coin from anybody handling it… Fingerprints generally are a negative when it comes to grading and assessing a coin’s overall eye appeal — of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you like it or find it artistic, by all means keep it! There are all kinds of ways to collect coins — there is no “right” or “wrong” way or methodology!

            Best wishes,
            Josh

        • Hi, Coin Man —

          I’m afraid not… The 1983 Lincoln cent has a large fingerprint on it, which might be causing a mark or marking that appear to be an “82.” However after looking at the photo you sent me very carefully I can make out no engraving, carving, or inscription on Lincoln’s jacket that shows “82.” I am sorry…

          Best wishes,
          Josh

          Reply
          • Hi, Coin Man —

            I’m afraid I don’t see the 1982 date in the photos you sent me… I’m not saying it’s not there, but I don’t see it and thus can’t help you on this piece unless I can see it to verify what’s going on with it. Why don’t you have the coin examined in hand by a dealer or third-party grader and point to him or her exactly you where you’re seeing this anomaly? Just thinking aloud…

            Good luck,
            Josh

          • Hey Josh this is Coin Man just reaching out and touching base I sent something earlier about it a penny with a double die and all the lettering on the back of 1963D look like a steel penny as well.Hey Josh this is Coin Man just reaching out and touching base I sent something earlier about it a penny with a double die and all the lettering on the back of 1963D look like a steel penny as well

          • Hi Coin Man —

            I do recall something about this… I thought I had responded but my apologies if I did not. Would you please post clear images of your coin again?

            Thank you so much,
            Josh

    • Hi, David —

      Are you hoping this is a doubled die? If so I’ll need to please see a clearer photo of the reverse, where the doubling would be evident because I’m afraid I can’t make it out in the reverse photo here. The quality of the obverse photo is great, however.

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Bob —

      Unfortunately that semi-circular cut on your coin is post-mint damage. Thus as this piece is otherwise common and has the damage on it, it is worth face value.

      Thank you for reaching out!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Bob —

      Is this the back of your 2008-D Lincoln cent from the other post? This appears to be post-mint damage, especially in the area of the lower rim. I don’t see the whole coin here so I can’t say for certain what’s going on with that bent line on the left side of the coin by the “O” in “ONE CENT.” If you’d kindly post the entire coin in one photo please I’m sure I could help further.

      Thank you!
      Josh

      Reply
      • I will post the back and front. Under one cent is damaged. I find between my cages last week.

        Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

        ——– Original message ——–

        Reply
    • Hi, Bob —

      Thanks for posting this image… It’s a little blurry but seems to show that line on the reverse (tails side) terminating in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial, correct?

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
  7. Dear Joshua,

    What is your opinion on a circulated 1964 no mint mark Roosevelt dime that weighs 2.25 grams? Is this the rare transitional error described below. I included a photo with another 1964 D dime that weighs 2.49 grams for easy reference. BTW both their edges are rigged and no sign of clad.
    Did I hit the jackpot or just another common circulated coin?
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d98cfd878ace828f41893ebe655ef7799ac170043bab6a7740d68f7fe1cb3ff8.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1b43e29feda4c98136bfd192fb7d7479b6feb1a23276c40447b85f7fe2c1e923.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d3e0e257b3db7d205f36a68e64c4d0dbf7e402e748ab8416c5a55beef6f8ef1.jpg

    #1 — 1964 Copper-Nickel Clad Roosevelt dime
    This transitional error coin was struck when the United States Mint was moving from the production of 90% silver Roosevelt dimes to making the ten-cent coin from copper-nickel clad. The 1964 clad Roosevelt dime is a rare coin with only a handful of specimens, and these are worth four figures or more. How do you tell a 1964 clad dime from a regular 90% silver 1964 dime? Weigh it! A 1964 clad dime weighs 2.27 grams (more or less).

    Thanks in advance for your input. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a2f4965a6280093b2079a088e81a43c4b6fa4c3bd38514469d75b9969a83c94a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73e441f86ec93a25363435388c574b12091d1772b8014d8692a406a62578f303.jpg

    Reply
    • Hi, Julius —

      Hmmm… The 1964 dime in question is tantalizingly underweight. I think it may be worth getting authenticated and tested by a Numismatic service such as PCGS for evaluation. It may be a transitional error, but only through metal testing and further in-hand examination can that be determined.

      Good luck!
      Josh

      Reply
      • Hi, Ghost —

        What about which 1983 cent are you trying to determine is the “real deal”? Are you hoping one is a bronze cent? A doubled die? For the bronze cent you will definitely need to weigh it down to at least the tenth of a gram, and for the doubled die I will please need a really clear image of the reverse (tails side) of the coin you believe it appears on. Hope I can help further….

        Thank you,
        Josh

        Reply
  8. Please don’t laugh… weights 3 grams exactly. Found outside my property while looking for rocks with my son 1983 penny in bad shape looks like a 1983 D penny according to my pics. What do you think about it? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/723a16468ecba7a11a151b20a08c35f8633a6b3ff4ea8eb8e0388e0227473d3f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/da32addc8e39817da660269e9bd25000bd6380a14928ad8889d6d20d8a32d5c2.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/39daf52102c3fe0f5ad8b11981a5750faa1185d743d3c1560c635f59c9df8360.jpg

    Reply
    • Hi, Roel —

      I’m not laughing, as errors come in every shape and condition, BUT did you weigh this on a gram scale that measures down to at least the TENTH of a gram? Common 1983 zinc pennies weigh about 2.5 grams, so on a scale that weighs only whole grams, this would still come in (round up) at 3 grams. Please let me know!

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Angel —

      I see here the obverse of five circulated 1983-D Lincoln cents… These are very common coins worth face value in virtually all cases. Did you find errors on these? I’d love to help further but I please need more photos of both sides of the coins, weights (in grams down to at least the tenth of a gram) and further descriptions to help.

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Its4cj —

      I don’t see any indication that this coin is a doubled die or has any varieties, errors, or anomalies and is therefore what appears to be a normal 1983-D penny. It doesn’t appear to have any wear in this photo, which is a good thing. Assuming it’s uncirculated, I peg the value of this coin at 5-10 cents.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Shanna —

      In these images nothing stands out that would make your 1983-D Lincoln cent a particularly valuable coin. Did something about this piece catch your attention?

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
  9. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0c21a83f4402bc068fe0b22027ec414903d27d84e3def650ee1140ebca096fd7.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/27bef2e95dba89ed3bbd8a40421a2fbf714d48832648548f915993ee8c18ada7.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ad79c1fb7c536715aaae197b7eaf64d3e69655a6332f09936a89395f447c5779.jpg I found an extremely small in size, dark color 1983 D Lincoln Cent. I’ve never seen one like this before and am unable to find any accurate information online.
    Here’s a couple of pictures next to another 1983 D Lincoln Cent. May I please get your insight on it?

    Reply
    • Hi, Dawn —

      It looks like someone ground down the smaller penny perhaps to use as a dime in a vending machine; whatever the purpose, it’s a post-mint alteration and unfortunately has no additional value above face.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Akitchita —

      May I please see a clear photo or two of your coin so I can be of further help here?

      Thanks,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Steven —

      It must also have the “D” mintmark AND additionally be made from the copper composition.

      Good luck,
      Josh

      Reply

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