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Have you ever wondered what the rarest penny is?
True, the 1909-S VDB is perhaps the most popular rare penny. But it is far from being the rarest one-cent coin!
While it boasts the lowest mintage among the regularly struck Lincoln pennies and is indeed considered rare — with nearly 500,000 made and perhaps 20,000 or more still in existence — the 1909-S VDB is not the rarest penny.
Which U.S. Penny Is The Rarest?
Among the regular-issue pennies, the 1793 Liberty Cap large cent takes the cake as the rarest penny made in the United States.
Made during the first year the United States Mint was striking coins on a regular basis, this 1793 penny was one of several one-cent designs struck that year.
So how many 1793 Liberty Cap pennies were made?
A measly 11,056. And the number of present-day surviving specimens is only a fraction of that.
What would it cost you to buy a specimen?
Well, you better be ready to pony up some serious dough! This is, after all, a nearly $4,000 coin in Good-4 condition. If you want a specimen with a bit less wear – say a Fine or Very Fine grade – you’re looking at spending as much as $12,500 to $15,000 or more.
This isn’t the type of coin you simply saunter into your nearest coin dealer to buy. Because 1793 pennies of any type are so desired by numismatists, they are usually quickly snapped up. Usually, your best bet for finding a 1793 Liberty Cap penny would be a high-level coin auction. However, if you’re seriously looking to buy this coin, your coin dealer may have an inside track to helping you find one.
What About Other Rare Pennies?
For all you penny enthusiasts who take exception to my listing the 1793 Liberty Cap penny as the rarest and wonder why I didn’t mention the 1856 Flying Eagle cent as the rarest, here’s the reason: with around 2,000 struck, the 1856 Flying Eagle cent is officially only a pattern coin – not a regular-issue Flying Eagle cent.
Here are some other non-regular issue, rare pennies:
As you can see, while the penny may be the lowest denomination in modern-day coinage, it certainly isn’t without its valuable rarities that are, indeed, worth a pretty penny!
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!