Did you know there’s a rare 1989 penny worth $3,000 or more?
It’s true! And you may find one in your pocket change.
I’ll tell you how to find this rare 1989-D penny and also share more info on what your 1989 pennies are worth.
Why Are Some 1989 Pennies Rare & Valuable?
Some old pennies are worth more than others, and in the case of a rare 1989-D penny, it’s worth much, much more!
Circulation-strike 1989 pennies are typically made of a copper-plated zinc composition. Many 1982 pennies and all business-strike pennies made since 1983 are supposed to be made from that zinc composition.
However, there have been a few hiccups in the metal composition of Lincoln pennies since 1982 — when the United States Mint transitioned from making 95% copper pennies to 97.5% zinc pennies.
Apparently, a few 1989-D pennies were accidentally minted on pre-1983 95% copper planchets (prepared coin blanks).
There’s not much info on how these 1989 penny copper planchets wound up getting struck some 7 years after the last copper Lincoln cents were supposed to be made. But, what we do know is that these rare off-metal error coins are worth a ton of money!
For example, a rare 1989-D penny sold in August 2016 for $3,525!
How To Find A Rare 1989-D Penny
Sure, it’s pretty cool that some people have found these rare 1989-D pennies and that they’re worth more than $3,000…
But here’s some more good news for you: it’s possible to find these valuable coins in your pocket change!
So how can you tell a regular 1989-D penny apart from the rare 1989-D copper penny?
You’ve got to weigh them:
- The valuable 1989-D copper penny weighs about 3.11 grams
- A normal zinc-based 1989-D penny weigh approximately 2.5 grams
You can use a gram scale to see what your 1989 penny weighs, or you can try dropping it to listen for the difference:
- Zinc-based pennies will make a dull clicking sound when dropped on a hard surface, such as a table.
- Copper pennies let out a quiet, bell-like ring when hitting hard surfaces.
Normally, it’s not recommended to drop coins onto hard surfaces. But in this case, where you’re generally dealing with common coins, it’s okay.
There are other valuable, rare copper Lincoln pennies from the 1980s. These include:
What Are Other 1989 Pennies Worth?
Maybe you don’t have the rare 1989-D copper penny and your regular, worn 1989 and 1989-D pennies are worth only face value — but that doesn’t mean all of your 1989 pennies are worthless!
Here’s what uncirculated and proof 1989 pennies are worth today:
- 1989 Philadelphia (no-mintmark) penny: 7,261,535,000 minted — 10 to 25+ cents
- 1989-D penny: 5,345,467,111 minted — 10 to 25+ cents
- 1989-S (San Francisco) proof penny: 3,220,948 minted — $2+
*Values listed above are for uncirculated and proof 1989 pennies. As previously mentioned, all worn, regular-issue (no error) 1989 and 1989-D pennies are worth face value.
See What Else Happened When Your 1989 Penny Was Made
1989 was a busy year! While your 1989 penny was rolling off the presses at the United States Mint, this is what else was going on:
- President George Herbert Walker Bush became the 41st President of the United States on January 20, 1989.
- The Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska on March 24, 1989 — spilling 11 million gallons of oil and creating an environmental nightmare along miles of shoreline.
- A deadly, 6.9-magnitude earthquake rattled San Francisco and the surrounding areas on October 17, 1989, killing 67 people and causing massive devastation.
- The Berlin Wall fell in the German capital on November 9, 1989, helping reunite free West Germany and Soviet-governed East Germany.
- Deadly pro-democratic rallies were held in China’s Tiananmen Square.
- Top songs in 1989 included “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, “Love Shack” by the B-52s, “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Don’t Wanna Lose You” by Gloria Estefan, “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson, and “Blame It On The Rain” by Milli Vanilli.
- The most popular movies of 1989 were Batman, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Parenthood, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Dead Poets Society, and The Little Mermaid.
- Top-rated TV shows in 1989 included “Seinfeld,” “Cheers,” “The Simpsons,” “Quantum Leap,” “Who’s The Boss?,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Golden Girls,” “Roseanne,” “Full House,” and “Family Matters.”
More Info On 1989 Lincoln Pennies
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you learn more about your 1989 penny value:
- Old Copper Pennies: Which Ones To Save & What They’re Worth
- Zincoln Zinc Pennies: Collecting The Lincoln Zinc Penny
- A Brief History Of The Penny
- 5 Rare Coins You’ll Find In The Lincoln Memorial Cent Series
- A List Of 43 U.S. Pennies Worth Holding On To
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!