Hobbies & CraftsRare U.S. Coins

What Is The Rarest Penny? (Hint: It’s NOT The 1909-S VDB!)

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.

This is the rarest penny

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!