People love rare pennies — it seems most of the questions I get here at The Fun Times Guide has something to do with old pennies that people found in their pocket change.
Of course, everyone wants to know if they’re lucky enough to have found some rare pennies worth money!
You’ll be happy to know there are some really valuable pennies worth $1,000 that you can find in your loose change today.
I’m not kidding about those penny values… There really are rare pennies, old pennies, error pennies, and doubled die pennies worth money in circulation today!
I’m going to share with you what those pennies are and how much each one is worth.
Oh, and by the way, I’m actively looking for these valuable pennies, too. So I’m totally in this game with you and hope somebody reading this post (like you!) finds one of these rare coins.
#1 – 1943 Copper Penny
If you’ve read many of my coin posts, you’ll know I’ve written pretty extensively about the 1943 penny.
Why? Because the 1943 copper penny (or, more technically, 1943 bronze penny) is one of the most popular, most valuable pennies around.
There’s a lot of confusion about 1943 copper pennies, though. For one, a lot of folks seem to think it’s the 1943 steel penny that is the rare and valuable penny. Unfortunately, 1943 steel pennies are extremely common — more than 1 billion were made and there are plenty of survivors today.
The rare 1943 penny is the copper version — which was accidentally made when a couple dozen or so copper planchets (prepared coin blanks) leftover from the 1942 pennies were minted.
So far, there have been about 40 of these rare 1943 copper pennies. But many have turned up in pocket change over the years, which means there may be more out there.
Will you find the next 1943 copper penny? I hope so… The value of 1943 copper wheat pennies ranges from about $85,000 and up!
#2 – 1944 Steel Penny
When the United States Mint returned to making copper pennies in 1944, a few steel planchets from 1943 somehow ended up in the mix and were stamped — and voila, a couple dozen or so 1944 steel cents were accidentally made!
Just as there is some confusion among some on whether it is the 1943 steel pennies or 1943 copper pennies that are rare, the same is the case with the 1944 pennies. Some coin collectors think 1944 copper pennies are scarce, when it’s actually the 1944 steel penny that’s rare and valuable.
What’s really cool is that there are people who have found 1944 steel pennies in their spare change — and they struck it rich! A 1944 steel penny is usually worth about $75,000 or more.
#3 – 1955 Doubled Die Penny
Lots of people have submitted photos of their 1955 pennies wanting to know if their 1955 penny is a 1955 double die penny and what 1955 double die pennies are worth.
Longtime readers of this blog will notice the questions coming in are often about double die pennies.
Of course, there is no such thing as a double die penny. That’s because the error involves a doubled die. That is, part or all of the design imprinted on the die was doubled. That means every coin a doubled die strikes will show some doubling of the design.
But enough on the minting lessons for now. You’re probably here to find out how much a 1955 doubled die penny is worth and how you can find one in pocket change!
It’s thought that maybe 20,000 or so 1955 doubled die wheat pennies were made. While it’s conventional wisdom to think that virtually all were found (sucked out of circulation) many years ago, there are still some believed to be floating around out there.
The 1955 doubled die penny only occurs with the 1955 Philadelphia (no mintmark). If you see a “D” (Denver) or “S” (San Francisco) mintmark under the date, then your 1955 penny certainly is NOT the famous 1955 doubled die — though it’s possible you may have a lesser-known type of 1955 doubled die penny.
Oh, and there is also a 1955 penny with machine doubling (not really an error or variety) that is widely referred to as the so-called 1955 Poor Man’s Doubled Die penny. This error penny actually exhibits a form of worn die damage and is neither rare nor valuable.
You’ll know a real 1955 doubled die penny when you see it — there is very visible doubling in the date and inscriptions on the obverse (“heads side”) of the coin.
And now, to answer your question about these rare pennies worth money… 1955 doubled die pennies are generally worth about $1,000 or more.
#4 – 1969-S Doubled Die Penny
The 1969-S doubled die penny value is about the highest of any Lincoln Memorial cent known to collectors at this time: 1969-S doubled die pennies are worth about $25,000 and up!
How sensational, too, that collectors are finding 1969-S doubled die pennies in circulation. It seems that more are coming to light as the years pass — which means there’s a possibility you may find one in your spare change, too.
You’ll definitely notice the doubling on a 1969-S doubled die penny — it really isn’t that hard to spot. You’ll see the doubling in the date and especially in the inscriptions on the obverse (“heads side”) of the coin.
#5 – 1982-D Small Date Copper Pennies
This is one of the more recent discoveries among rare pennies.
The 1982-D copper small date penny is considered a transitional error — which occurred during the year when the United States government was switching the composition of the traditionally copper penny to virtually all zinc.
If you’re looking for a 1982-D copper small date penny, it’s important to recognize the differences in weight between the copper and zinc pennies:
- A copper penny weighs around 3.11 grams.
- Copper-plated zinc pennies weighs 2.5 grams.
You can weigh your 1982 pennies to see which you have, or do the drop test:
- Zinc pennies click when they’re dropped and hit a hard surface, such as a table.
- Copper pennies make a small ringing sound upon impact.
There’s also the difference between the large date and small date:
- On the 1982 small date penny, the tops of the 4 digits in the coin’s date (“1,” “9,” “8,” and “2”) appear to be on the same plane.
- With 1982 large date pennies, the “9” and “8” protrude above the visible plane lining up at the tops of the “1” and “2.”
While the 1982-D small-date bronze penny (which was first found in circulation in 2016) is currently thought to be an extremely rare coin, it’s possible there are more out there.
Hopefully you find one. The first 1982-D copper small-date penny sold for nearly $19,000! Certainly other 1982-D copper small-date pennies are worth similar amounts and will bring in big bucks for those who find them.
#6 – 1983-D Copper Penny
While all 1983 pennies were supposed to be made from copper-plated zinc, there were apparently some that were made from the pre-1982 copper composition.
It’s assumed that a few of the copper planchets, which were last officially used for making business-strike pennies in 1982, were left behind and accidentally struck in 1983 at the Denver Mint. There aren’t many 1983-D copper pennies.
These rare copper pennies are worth a pretty penny, too. The 1983 copper penny value is currently right around $15,000! And, yes, these rare coins are being found in pocket change.
#7 – 1989-D Bronze Penny
Amazingly, 7 years after the last official business-strike copper pennies were made, some 1989 pennies were also made from copper.
As with many of the zinc-era copper error pennies, the 1989-D bronze penny was recently discovered, and there may be more of them out there.
Like with the other copper error pennies, the easiest way to know if you have the 1989-D copper penny is to weigh it. If your 1989 penny weighs around 3.11 grams, then you’ve probably got the rare copper penny.
The value of the 1989 error pennies is something to write home about, too — if you happen to find one of these rare pennies in your pocket change: 1989-D copper pennies are worth $3,000 or so!
#8 – 1992 Close AM Penny
Here’s a cool error variety: the 1992-D Close AM penny!
What’s the “AM” on the Lincoln penny? It refers to the “A” and “M” in “AMERICA” on the reverse (“tails side”) of the 1992 penny.
On the rare 1992-D Close AM penny, the bases of the “A” and “M” appear to be virtually touching one another.
This rare error variety penny came about when a reverse die intended for striking 1993 proof pennies was accidentally used to produce some 1992 pennies intended for circulation.
It’s a strange error coin that’s worth a lot of money. In the highest grades, 1992-D Close AM pennies are worth more than $20,000!
Like all of the other rare pennies mentioned in this article, 1992-D Close AM pennies have been found in circulation.
So, start searching though your loose change, penny jars, rolls of pennies, and boxes of pennies! You may already have some of these rare pennies or other valuable coins sitting around somewhere just waiting to be found.
Here’s a video I made showing lots of rare pennies… and how much they’re worth today:
More Info About Rare Pennies
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you find rare pennies worth money in circulation:
- The Story Behind The Rare 1909 VDB Pennies
- What’s The Rare 1914-D Penny Worth?
- What Are 1922 Pennies Worth?
- How Many Rare 1931 Pennies Were Made?
- See What Your 1990 Pennies Are Worth
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!