10 Valuable Cent Coins: Lincoln and Indian Head Pennies

Rare Dates and Values

Douglas Winter

Jan 5th, 2024 · 6 min read

The ten most valuable Indian Head and Lincoln pennies you should be looking for are:

  • 1943 Copper Lincoln Penny: $186,000-$372,000
  • 1969-S Double Die Lincoln Cent: $41,125-$126,500
  • 1922 “Plain” Lincoln Cent: $329-$57,500
  • 1955 Double Die Lincoln Cent: $1,645-$32,400
  • 1877 Indian Cent: $220-$21,150
  • 1873 Doubled LIBERTY Indian Cent: $367-$20,125
  • 1914-D Lincoln Cent: $74-$16,100
  • 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent: $499-$10,000
  • 1992-D Close AM Lincoln Cent: $990-$3,525
  • 1909-S Indian Cent: $282-$3,400

*All prices are according to what PCGS lists as auction records

If you’ve inherited a coin collection from your father or grandfather, there is a better than average chance that you have among the various albums or holders, a set of Indian Cents and/or Lincoln Cents pennies with value. These are two of the absolute most popular US coins and, at one time or another, virtually all coin collectors worked on completing a set of these iconic issues.

In this article, our ANA member numismatic experts will list the 10 rarest dates in the Lincoln and Indian Head cent series and give you the value for each.

First, a little background on each.

Indian Head pennies were struck from 1859 through 1909. The first five issues (through 1864) were made in a Copper-Nickel alloy (88% copper and 12% nickel) and they have a greyish color when circulated and a rose-grey or golden hue when they are well-preserved. 

The 1859—the first-year-of-issue– is a one year type with no shield on the reverse. The 1860 through 1864 have a different reverse with a fuller wreath and a shield at 12:00. All of the issues so far are common.

Late in 1864, the decision was made to strike Indian Cents in a bronze alloy which is 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. These were struck in significant quantities through 1879 (with one exception; see below) and in comparatively large quantities through the end of the design in 1909.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Lincoln Cent (also known as wheat pennies) was released in 1909. Designed by Victor David Brenner, this design is among the most loved on any American coin; not to mention the longest running as the obverse is essentially unchanged for 114 years. 

During World War II the United States was looking for ways to save on copper for military equipment. As a result steel was used instead of copper, creating the 1943 Lincoln steel penny. It was only supposed to be for one year, but a few steel pennies were made in 1944 by mistake, giving the 1944 steel Lincoln cents value.

In 1959, the Lincoln Memorial replaced two stalks of wheat thus retiring the so-called “Wheat Penny” design after 50 years.

Below are the top ten issues which you should be looking for by value.

1943 Copper Lincoln Penny

Many coin dealers have war stories to tell about 1943 Copper Pennies. 99.9% of all 1943 cents were struck using Zinc-coated Steel planchets. An extremely small number were accidentally made using the pre-1943 Bronze planchet. 

The most recent auction record for a 1943-P Copper Penny is $240,000 with pieces as high as $372,000 for the Philadelphia Mint coins. The Denver and San Francisco coins are even rarer with the finest 1943-D selling for more than $800,000 and the nicest 1943-S bringing just over a half million dollars.

Even if you are absolutely, positively, 100% certain that you have one of the authentic 1943 Copper Penny Errors, the chances are extremely strong that you don’t have a genuine one. While it is not impossible to find a rare coin in circulation, most pennies you find in your pocket change are still going to be face value. 

If you insist you do have one, we’ll provide you with information on how to get it certified by a grading company. If it’s real, we’ll be thrilled to place it in an auction for you or even purchase it outright.


  • Year: 1943
  • Mint Location: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 20 Known
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $186,000
    • High: $372,000

1969-S Double Die Lincoln Cent

While not as well-known as the 1955 Double Die, the 1969-S is at least 100 times rarer and it is still being discovered by astute collectors in bank rolls or in the bottom of unsearched groups of hundreds of Lincoln Cents. There are currently fewer than 50 known with current price records of $126,500 set back in the tail end of 2008. Even a lightly circulated example is worth $10,000 or more.

You’ll be able to easily detect a real 1969-S Double Die as the date and all of the lettering show two clear versions of numbers and letters.


  • Year: 1969
  • Mint Location: San Francisco
  • Mintage: 15
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $41,125
    • High: $126,500

1922 “Plain” Lincoln Cent

No 1922 cents were issued by the United States Mint in Philadelphia and the so-called 1922 “Plain” is actually a 1922-D struck with a grease filled die which obscures the “D” mint mark. Varieties are known with a sharply struck reverse and with the reverse weakly impressed. The former is by far the more valuable with a low grade piece worth $500-1,000. 

If your Lincoln Cent set contains a solid MS60+ with typical brown color your coin could be worth $7,500 or more.

It is important to do your research on this issue as the 1922 “Plain” with a weak reverse is way more common and far less desirable. Expect an offer of around $200 for a low grade piece and prices around $2,000-3,000 for an average quality Uncirculated coin with brown color.


  • Year: 1922
  • Mint Location: Denver
  • Mintage: 7,160,000
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $329
    • High: $57,500

1955 Double Die Lincoln Cent

To qualify as the most desirable variety of this strongly doubled obverse die, all four digits of the date as well as all of the lettering must in fact show obvious doubling.

The 1955 Double Die is a scarce and popular issue. A circulated example values around $1,500-2,000 while a nice Uncirculated with no mint red color is worth $3,500-4,500. We love to buy these, and any nice 1955 Double Die will result in a strong price from Coinfully or any reputable coin dealer.


  • Year: 1955
  • Mint Location: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 33,058,000
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $1,645
    • High: $32,400

1877 Indian Cent

The 1877 is a legendary issue which has been regarded as the key Indian Head cent for generations. Low grade examples are plentiful and a coin which is well-worn but has a clear date is worth around $500. Coins which are free of wear are sometimes found in inherited collections which were formed a generation or two ago and these can be worth at least $5,000 and significantly more if the coin has a natural red surface.

Counterfeits and coins with altered dates are plentiful so it is important for your Coinfully appraiser to see any 1877 cent you have to be certain it is genuine.


  • Year: 1877
  • Mint Location: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 852,500
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $220
    • High: $21,150

1873 Doubled LIBERTY Indian Cent

Fewer than 300 are known of this rare variety on which the letters on the headband are strongly doubled. Most of these are well-worn but even a coin with extensive wear is still worth at least $500 while choice Uncirculated specimens (PCGS or NGC Mint State 63 or thereabout) have a price in excess of $10,000.

The doubling on the letters in LIBERTY is strong enough that even a worn example should be clearly visible to the naked eye.


  • Year: 1873
  • Mint Location: Philadelphia
  • Mintage: 11,676,500
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $367
    • High: $20,125

1914-D Lincoln Cent

This is another issue which was always too much money for a young collector back in the 1970’s and the 1980’s. If your collection contains an average circulated 1914 cent from the Denver mint in VG-Fine grades we will buy it for $150-250.

If your example is mint condition like a nicer MS63 or so with some red color, you should look for compensation in the amount of $3,000 and up.

This is another issue which is often seen with added mintmarks.


  • Year: 1914
  • Mint Location: Denver
  • Mintage: 1,193,000
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $74
    • High: $16,100

1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent

The 1909-S VDB is the Lincoln cent which every childhood coin collector dreamed of owning but which few were ever able to acquire due to the value. This rarity sporting the initials of the designer is a truly iconic issue which is actually far more available than generally realized.

 If you have a low grade example in your collection, we will gladly pay around $1,000 for it while an average quality Uncirculated 1909-S VDB is currently worth around $2,000 to 3,000.

There are thousands of altered date 1909-S VDB cents where an “S” mintmark has been added to a common 1909 VDB. Your Coinfully numismatist will be able to detect these counterfeit examples and will be happy to explain what signs are clear indicators that a coin is not genuine.


  • Year: 1909
  • Mint Location: San Francisco
  • Mintage: 484,000
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $499
    • High: $10,000

1992-D Close AM Lincoln Cent

A new reverse was mistakenly used to make a small number of 1992-D cents with the letters AM in AMERICA very closely spaced as on the 1993 reverse.

This variety appears to be quite rare and examples have sold for as much as $14,100. An average quality 1992-D Close AM is worth around $750-1,000 so it pays to check all your 1992-D pennies to see if they are this variety. Your family may even have a stack of graded coins (you’ll want to start getting excited when you start seeing the numeric grade going up to MS64, MS65, MS66, etc).


  • Year: 1992
  • Mint Location: Denver
  • Mintage: 4,448,673,300
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $990
    • High: $3,525

1909-S Indian Cent

This is a popular issue as it is the final Indian Head cent made at the San Francisco mint and along with the 1908-S one of just two issues of this type from this site. An average circulated 1909-S Indian cent is worth around $250-350 while Uncirculated examples range from around $750 for a brown MS60 to figures over $5,000 for a Gem with original Mint Red color.


  • Year: 1909
  • Mint Location: San Francisco
  • Mintage: 309,000
  • Price Based on Condition:
    • Low: $282
    • High: $3,400

Why Did Pennies Change Design?

Pennies were changed from an Indian Head design to Lincoln in 1909 to celebrate his 100th birthday.

The Indian Head cent was designed by engraver James B. Longacre and is said to be Lady Liberty wearing a Native American headdress and not actually the head of a Native American on the coin. It is claimed that the design of Lady Liberty was inspired by Longacre’s daughter.

In 1909 the Indian Head was changed to celebrate what would have been Lincoln’s 100th birthday. In 1959 the wheat on the back of pennies was changed to the Lincoln Memorial to honor Lincoln’s 150th birthday.

Though this article talks about Lincoln and Indian Head pennies and values, there are a lot of other pennies with different designs. All of them can be worth money. There will be variations in sale prices between all the different designs and years.

Other Indian Head and Lincoln Pennies to Look For

Some other one cent coins in your collection that can be worth a bit more than their face value are:

  • 1890 Indian Head penny
  • 1898 Indian Head penny
  • 1901 Indian Head penny
  • 1902 Indian Head penny
  • 1903 Indian Head penny
  • 1904 Indian Head penny
  • 1905 Indian Head penny
  • 1906 Indian Head penny
  • 1907 Indian Head penny
  • 1908 Indian Head penny
  • 1944 Wheat Lincoln penny

These are some more Indian Head and Lincoln pennies with value, but they are not the only ones. Apart from years to look for, anything different, special, or errors in coins can add to their value.

What to Do With Valuable Pennies?

The two major options for valuable pennies are selling and keeping them. Either way, if you have any, you might want to have an expert look at them to verify their value.

To find out exactly how valuable your pennies are, an appraisal with an expert can tell you what your coins are worth. You can either get an in-person or online appraisal where an expert numismatist can tell you exactly how much you would make from selling your collection of pennies.

For an in-person appraisal you will need to take your coins to either coin shops or collectors. There you may be asked to leave your valuable pennies overnight. After your appraisal you will have to pick up your coins and take them back home.

For online appraisals, like the one we offer at Coinfully, you will need to create a detailed list of your coins. In some cases you will be asked to send in photos of your pennies. With Coinfully, your online appraisals will be free and have zero-pressure to sell your coins to us.

If you want the ease of online appraisals with the feeling of in-person appraisals, Coinfully offers an at-home appraisal. During an at-home appraisal one of our experts will come to you and appraise your coins. At-home appraisals with Coinfully are still free and zero-pressure.

If you are looking to sell your pennies, Coinfully we will buy them after an appraisal online or at-home.

At Coinfully, we love to purchase pennies and we welcome the chance to work with you on the sale of your Indian and Lincoln Cents. Of course our team is also here to answer any general questions you have about these important coinages and topics in the US coin collecting. 

You might think that numismatists are only interested in a handful of collections that include ultra rare designs or coins that have been hidden away since World War II. That is simply not the case for the passionate professionals in our field, as collections of any size are exhilarating and may contain a fresh flying eagle penny or strawberry leaf cent. 

You often only hear about the newsworthy collections that sell at heritage auctions for $1.7 million, $2.3 million, etc; however, there is no reason to believe that you won’t find something special like low mintage US mint copper coins in your collection or that your Lincoln and Indian Head cents aren’t worth anything.

Douglas Winter Chief Numismatic Advisor at Coinfully & President of Douglas Winter Numismatics.  A famed rare coin expert and author, Douglas contributes to the Coinfully Blog and publishes educational articles to offer expertise as a leading numismatist in the field.

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