How Much is a 1951 Wheat Penny Worth? (Price Chart)

Are you looking for an antique coin to trade for dollars? The 1951 Lincoln penny is still a sought after gem in uncirculated MS+ condition. The 1951-penny forms part of a series of Lincoln pennies designed by Victor D. Brenner in 1909 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

So, what’s the 1951-penny value? The coin is 95% copper and 5% zinc, and is worth $0.98 and $1.98 cents.

The United States of America first struck a Lincoln cent coin in 1909 to replace the Indian head cent. To date, old wheat pennies are common in coin jars, collections points, and pawn shops. One of the most common is the 1951 series, which had about one billion coins.

Here we cover an overview of the 1951 wheat penny, its unique features, and current values in exchange for the dollar.

What is 1951 Lincoln Penny?

As part of the Lincoln wheat penny series, the 1951 penny is one of the one-cent coins designed in 1909 by sculptor Victor Benner. The 1951 Lincoln wheat penny was available for circulation after the official issue in 1951. They are sometimes called “wheat pennies” because they feature two wheat stalks at the reverses face.

History of the 1951 wheat penny

History of the 1951 wheat penny

The Lincoln wheat series traced its roots to the early 1900s, when then-President Theodore Roosevelt expressed concern that the coins in use lacked artistic appeal. At that time, there was no existing congress ban that restricted new coin designs. As a result, the US mint through the treasury hired a private sculptor to redesign the quarter, half, double, and eagle gold coins.

The same fate befell the cent coins, and sculptor Victor Brenner landed an opportunity to design the Lincoln wheat cents. After a successful design, his designs received the treasury’s approval for official release.

In the mid-1930s, the US suffered a cash crunch occasioned by the massive financial investment in the First World War. The country, therefore, required more money to support the increasing population.

The cash crunch led to a dramatic increase in the number of Lincoln pennies produced. So, in 1951, all US mints produced a record 1.05 billion wheat pennies, popularly known as the 1951 Lincoln Wheat Penny.

Reason for Minting

Like other wheat pennies, the 1951 Lincoln Penny came out of necessity. The main idea was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of former president Abraham Lincoln. Incredibly, the drive to honor President Lincoln came from the citizens, who proposed a unique Lincoln coin.

In addition, none of the coins used before the Lincoln penny bore the portrait of America’s president, and so the time was ripe for a change.

Mintage

The production of the 1951 Penny happened at three mints, namely Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Denver branch mint struck 625,355,000, while San Francisco struck 136,010,000 specimens. The main mint at Philadelphia struck 284,576,000 wheat pennies in the series.

Features of the 1951 Lincoln Penny

The Lincoln penny is among the most popular and outstanding single cent coins ever struck in the United States of America. It features unique features that only convey the main intention for its design.

Below are the subtle features of the 1951 Penny

Portrait

The portrait on the coin is that of former President Abraham Lincoln

Obverse

1951 Wheat Penny Obverse

The obverse features a profile bust of Lincoln facing right. He wears a coat and a bow tie and appears shoulder-high at the center of the coin.

Above the president is an inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST” along the upper edge and another inscription “LIBERTY” near the left margin. The date of the official issue appears to the right, written in a straight line of text as “1951”.

Reverse

1951 Wheat Penny Reverse

On the reverse, Brenner designed two wheat stalks along the left and right margin of the coin. Along the upper rim is another inscription, “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, in block letters.

Two conspicuous dots separate the three words. Slightly below the Latin inscription is the coin’s value as “ONE CENT” and the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” below the coin’s value.

Slogans

The 1951 wheat penny has three main slogans on both the obverse and reverse sides.

“E PLURIBUS UNUM”

The United States of America adopted and approved the slogan for legal tenders in 1776. The Latin phrase stands for “Out of many, one. It is symbolic of the way the nation formed a united country out of many states.

“LIBERTY”

Liberty means ‘freedom’. It is a famous slogan and founding value embraced by the people of America to symbolize freedom from historical civil wars and colonial rule. A symbolic American goddess appears on Lincoln wheat pennies as a “Miss Liberty.”

“IN GOD WE TRUST”

The slogan is a simple religious connotation, symbolic of some religious beliefs of the people of America.

Mint marks

Mint marks

The 1951 series of the wheat penny has two mint marks showing the mint’s origin that struck the coin. It has a mint mark “S” (San Francisco) and “D” (Denver). However, as a rule, currencies struck at the Philadelphia mint do not bear any mint mark. When present in the coin, the mint mark should appear below the date of issue on the coin’s obverse side.

Metal Used

The 1951 Wheat penny is a composite currency made of dominant copper content. It contains 95% copper and 5% zinc.

Weight and Dimensions

The 1951 penny weighs 3.11 grams and has a diameter of 19.05 mm

Value of the 1951 Wheat Penny

Value of the 1951 Wheat Penny
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Similar to other wheat pennies, the 1951 series have a lower resale value in lower grades. However, they could fetch higher prices in pristine conditions because of the high copper content.

Below are the different values of the coin at numismatic markets:

Denomination Value

The wheat coin is worth one cent (1/100th of a dollar) at face value

Standard Value of the Coin

Currently, the wheat penny has an expected value of about 15 cents. The standard value is a rough estimate given by coin trackers in the numismatic market.

How Much Is the Metal in the 1951 Lincoln Penny Worth?

The 1951 Lincoln penny has 95% copper, so its melt value depends on the current spot price for copper. At numismatic markets, the melt value is about $0.0278.

What’s the 1951 penny value at the Pawnshop?

The 1951 penny has value as both a numismatic coin and a collectible with high copper content. You will fetch $0.10 for a 1951 wheat penny in very fine condition at a pawnshop. Similarly, pawnbrokers will award a $2 price for a 1951 Lincoln cent of MS-65RB quality. An MS+ certified by a top grading company can fetch up to $18 at a public auction.

 

Comparison Table Showing the Value of the 1951 Lincoln Penny

Condition (Grade) 1951 1951 D 1951 S
Uncirculated $1.98 $0.58 0.98
Extremely Fine $0.04 $0.04 $0.05
Fine $0.02 $0.02 $0.03
Good $0.02 $0.02 $0.03

 

Factors that Determine the Value of the 1951 Penny

Factors that Determine the Value of the 1951 Penny

Regardless of the mint’s origin, some factors play a critical role in determining its value. They include its condition, demand, and quantity in circulation, rarity, and error coins.

Here are some factors that may determine the value of your 1951 penny

Condition (Grade)

The more excellent the condition of the coin, the higher value it will have at the market. As a result, the Lincoln penny (1951) may be graded as follows:

Uncirculated (MS 65RB)

The highest grade features a strong eye appeal and prominent luster, similar to its condition at the time of striking. The coin appears reddish-brown and has very few contact marks that are barely noticeable with the naked eye. An MS 65 coin graded by a professional can fetch as much as $25 or more.

Uncirculated (MS 63RB)

In this condition, the coin still has a reddish-brown appearance and a slightly appealing luster. A few contact marks and blemishes may appear on the prominent, high features. An MS 63 Lincoln penny (1951) graded by a certified expert is worth about $10.

Extremely Fine

The third grade of the 1951 wheat penny features slight wear on both sides, with most details intact. In this condition, your coin is worth about $0.25

Very Fine

The final grade of the 1951 penny features visible scratching and wear on both faces. Both the cheeks and jawbone’s on the president’s portrait appear worn out. A coin in this state fetches about $0.05 worth of cash.

Collectible Error

Your 1951 series of the wheat cent may be an error coin if it appears different from others of the same quality and type. Errors include visible lamination breaks, missing dates, and double strikes.

Below are some error coins on the 1951 Lincoln cent

  • 1951 double die (Obverse): valued at $10-25+
  • 1951 D double die (Obverse): valued at $10-25+
  • 1951 D pre-punched (pre-punched mintmark): valued at $3-5+
  • 1951 S (Over mint mark): valued at $15-30+

FAQs

1951 Wheat Penny FAQs

1. What Is the Record Price for the 1951 Penny?

The highest price paid for the 1951 Lincoln cent was $10,500 in 2006. The coin had a reddish-orange color with a fresh luster from the mint. It had a mint state MS 68 as graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

2. How Much Is a 1951 Lincoln Proof coin?

The year 1951 was the second time when the US mint issued proof pennies. Only about 57,000 proof pennies of the 1951 coin exist. A 1951 Lincoln proof coin is worth $80 if in perfect state.

3. Is a 1952 Wheat Cent Rare?

The wheat pennies are not rare. A record 1 billion pieces of wheat cents came out of three mints in 1952. The least produced was the 1951S at 136,010,000 specimens. Despite this, San Francisco wheat pennies are abundant in circulation, hence not scarce.

Winding Up: Is the 1951 Penny Worth it?

The 1951 wheat cent is part of the Lincoln series struck to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of America’s 16th president. Two distinct features define the coin; the portrait of Abraham Lincoln at the front and two wheat stalks at the back. Despite its low face value, the coin is worth more, considering the high copper content. An error coin and uncirculated state can guarantee you even higher prices.

If you have any questions about the 1951-Penny value, tell us!

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