How Much is a 1939 Lincoln Wheat Penny Worth? (Price Chart)

The 1939 Lincoln wheat penny is one of the most populous coins in America. The one-cent coin has an image of Abraham Lincoln at the obverse and wheat stalks at the reverse. Minted to commemorate the legendary American president’s birthday, the coin draws lots of interest from many numismatic collectors.

But what is the 1939-penny value? The 1939 one cent coin costs about ten cents and one dollar. The coin contains 95% copper as well as 5% zinc and tune in its 3.11 g of weight.

In this post, find out the value, history, features and comparisons of the 1939 Lincoln penny. Also, see its detailed images, videos and reviews.

What is the 1939 Penny?

The 1939 penny is one of the single cent coins struck by the United States Mint between 1909 and 1958. Also called the “Wheat Penny”, the 1939 coin depicts two wheat stalks similar to its counterparts in the cents series. Victor David Brenner, a medalist and sculptor designed the 1939 penny in 1909.

History of the 1939 Penny

History of the 1939 Penny
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The coin traces its origin to 1904 when President Theodore Roosevelt raised concern over the US coins’ lack of artistic appeal and merits. The four main coins that required a new design were the quarter eagle, half eagle, the eagle, and double eagle. The president wrote an official letter to the Treasury secretary, inquiring if a private sculptor would help redesign the four golden coins.

Since there wasn’t a Congress Act barring the redesign of the coins, president Roosevelt through the US mint, authorized sculptor Saint-Gaudens Augustus to create a new design for the four golden coins. The design process came to a successful completion in 1908. The president then proposed a redesign of the cent as well.

In 1908, sculptor Victor Brenner designed a medal for the Canal Commission in Panama. Fortunately, President Roosevelt came across his design of the medal and liked it. Brenner secured an opportunity to design a coin that would feature the portrait of an American president for the first time.

He drew inspiration from an 1864 photo of the late president Abraham Lincoln reading a book with his son. He presented numerous proposals for the coin’s design and each required modification. Finally, on July 14, 1909, the coin received the Treasury Secretary’s approval and a date set for its release.

Which US Mint Made the 1939 Penny?

Which US Mint Made the 1939 Penny
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The 1939 penny has a total mintage of about 383,716,000. Minting occurred at three different mints in the United States of America, namely Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver.

Out of the total Lincoln cents struck, Philadelphia produced the most significant share at 316 466,000. The Denver and San Francisco mints each struck 15,180,000 and 52,070,000 Lincoln cents, respectively.

Currently, production of the Lincoln pennies continues at all mints, including West Point.

Reason for Minting 1

Similar to other Lincoln cents, the 1939 Lincoln Penny was manufactured to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president. Previously, many citizens in the US proposed for a Lincoln coin to give special honor to the late president.

This would also mark a significant change from the tradition in which none of the US coins in circulation bore the portrait of a known human being, except the symbolic “Miss Liberty.”

Reason for Minting 2

Like other Lincoln cents, the 1939 Lincoln Penny was manufactured to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, America’s 16th president. Previously, many citizens in the US proposed for a Lincoln coin to give special honor to the late president.

This would also mark a significant change from the tradition in which none of the US coins in circulation bore the portrait of a known human being, except the symbolic “Miss Liberty.”

Features of the 1939 Penny

The designer Victor Brenner engraved unique features that distinguish the Lincoln penny. The most prominent features of this coin are Abraham Lincoln’s portrait and the wheat stalks.

This video shows an in-depth look at the 1939 wheat penny.

Below are some of the main features of the 1939 Penny

Obverse

Obverse

The head (Obverse) side featured the portrait of Abraham Lincoln facing right and centered on the coin. The late president looks composed in his coat and bow tie. To the left is an inscription with the word “LIBERTY.”

The coin’s year of minting (1939) appears to the right of Lincoln’s portrait and slightly below his chin. In addition, the top part of the obverse side has an inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” written in block letters along the rim of the currency.

Reverse

Reverse

The reverse of the 1939 penny has three primary inscriptions namely “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “ONE CENT,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

To the left and right-hand sides are two similar wheat stalks.

Additionally, two conspicuous dots separate the three words “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

Mintmarks

Mintmarks

A mintmark is a unique identification feature that gives a clue of the coin’s minting plant.

The mintmark appears on the obverse side, below the year 1939 on the Lincoln penny. You will likely spot three mintmarks, namely “D” (Denver) and “S” (San Francisco).

If a 1939 wheat penny has no mintmark, it is not a mistake. It simply means the coin was struck at the leading US Mint in Philadelphia.

Slogans Written

Slogans Written

Below are the three main slogans found on the 1939 wheat penny:

  • E PLURIBUS UNUM

This is a Latin word that means ‘out of many, one; the slogan was proposed in 1776 to support the idea that the US was formed out of many states.

  • IN GOD, WE TRUST

The slogan echoes religious sentiments of the citizens of the United States of America during the past civil wars

  • LIBERTY

The word “Liberty” is a significant value and principle guiding the nation.

Metal Composition

1939 is made up of Copper, Zinc, and Tin. Copper forms 95% of the total mineral composition, while an alloy of Zinc and Tin forms 5% of the coin.

Weight and Dimensions

The 1939 penny weighs about 3.11 grams and has a diameter of 19mm.

Value of the 1939 Penny

Value of the 1939 Penny

The Lincoln 1939 penny has value as a numismatic coin. So in its average condition, the currency would fetch you about $0.19 and $2.22 or more in uncirculated condition. Below are additional values for the coin.

Denominational Value

At face value, the 1939 penny is worth one cent. This is the figure indicated on the reverse face and represents its denominational value.

How Much is the Metal in the 1939 Penny Worth?

The wheat penny consists of 95% Copper and 5% (Zinc and Tin). According to coin collectors, this translates to a melt value of $ 0.0278.

How Much is the 1939 Penny at the Pawn Shop?

Currently, the coin’s numismatic value stands at a minimum of 35 cents. You could fetch as much as about $4 for the 1939 Lincoln penny at a pawnshop.

However, the highest price paid for a 1939 wheat penny was $ 9,775, which was paid in 2006. The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) graded the coin as MS-68 and found it worth the price.

Comparison Table Showing the Value of the 1939 Penny

Date/Condition 1939 Lincoln Penny 1939 Penny (D) 1939 Penny (S)
Good $0.16 $0.50 $0.16
Fine $0.21 $0.66 $0.31
Extremely Fine $0.50 $1.26 $1.00
Uncirculated $1.00 $3.00 $2.50

 

Factors that Influence the Value of the 1939 Penny

Factors that Influence the Value of the 1939 Penny
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How much is the 1939 penny in your coin? Well, the value of the Lincoln penny depends on several factors, and the 1939 penny is no exception.

Below are the factors that could determine the value of the penny in your pocket:

Grade

A professional coin grader should assess the condition of your coin to determine its grade. The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) assigns grades to wheat pennies as follows:

Uncirculated

If your wheat penny has never circulated in the market, has no blemish or visible signs of damage and wear, it is uncirculated. In addition, it should have the letters and images in perfect condition as they were at the time of manufacture.

Extremely Fine

An excellent perfect condition depicts a currency with minor imperfections only noticeable via a magnifying lens. Though there may be flaws, the coin should still be in excellent condition.

Fine

A fine 1939 wheat coin may be in circulation but has minimal wear and damage on its features. It may have minor scratching due to the exchange of hands but still retains its images and letters.

Good

This is the lowest grade that a 1939 Lincoln penny may have. If it has heavy surface scratching, damaged letters, and images, it will fetch lower prices.

Collectible Errors

Your coin may have a significant value if it has conspicuous struck errors. Collectible errors in a currency make it appear different from other similar specimens. Watch out for missing parts of the date, lamination breaks, and clipped planchet errors.

Rarity

The smaller the number of coins in circulation, the rarer it becomes, hence highly valued. For instance, the San Francisco mint has the rarest and most valuable 1939 wheat pennies.

Winding Up: Is the 1939 Penny Worth Collecting?

The 1939 Lincoln wheat penny may not be the most valuable coin out there, but it still was collecting. For more than 100 years, Lincoln wheat pennies have been in circulation in the United States. Earlier versions had much value for numismatics.

And, even if many collectors would want to have perfectly preserved pieces, it’s hard to find an uncirculated coin. So, the value of the 1939 wheat penny depends on its condition.

Do you have any questions about the 1939-penny value? Let’s know!

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