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While chances are most of your old pennies are worth only face value, there are plenty out there that are worth looking for.
In fact, some old pennies are worth hundreds of dollars!
Of course, you’ll have to look pretty hard to find the old one cent coins that are worth substantially more than face value, and the good news is that we’ll tell you about some of these valuable old pennies you should have your eye out for.
Old Lincoln Cents
Dating back to 1909, Lincoln pennies are the longest running United States coin series. However, over the course of more than 100 years, this tiny coin has seen several reverse design changes, including 4 commemorative designs that were issued in 2009 to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.
The 3 reverse primary reverse designs include:
- Wheat ears (1909-1958)
- Lincoln Memorial (1959-2008)
- Union shield (2010-present)
Most of the valuable dates occurred among old Lincoln wheat ear pennies, and principally during the first 25 years or so of the Lincoln cent’s run. Values for these early Lincoln cents often start many hundreds of times the coins’ face value.
Here’s a look at some of the most valuable Lincoln cents and their values in Good-4 condition (unless otherwise stated):
- 1909-S VDB: $750
- 1911-S: $44
- 1914-D: $225
- 1922 no date: $725
- 1924-D: $37
- 1931-S: $110
- 1955 doubled die: $950
- 1969-S doubled die: $50,000 (Mint-State 63)
- 1970-S small date: $50 (Mint-State 63)
- 1995 doubled die: $10 (Mint-State 63)
Old Indian Cents
Struck from 1859 to 1909, Indian pennies are a throwback to an era when the value of a penny definitely meant much more than it did today. However, if you could transport yourself back to the late 1800s, when the Indian cent was in its prime, and carry back to the present day a handful of old Indian Head cents, you would have beat inflation. Unless damaged or discolored, almost any Indian cent is worth at least $1 to $2, and many are worth much more than that, especially if in well preserved condition.
Here’s a rundown of values for the scarcer Indian pennies:
- 1861: $23
- 1864 with L (for James B. “L”ongacre – the coin’s designer): $62
- 1873 doubled LIBERTY: $625
- 1877: $725
- 1878: $26
- 1888 Last 8 over 7: $2,650
- 1908-S: $70
- 1909-S: $450
While this list does not include every single possible valuable variety in existence (listing that many coins would take more than just one article!), this list is pretty inclusive of the most valuable coins that you’re likeliest to come across in penny rolls, old jars, boxes, drawers, chests, and collections. Good luck!
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!