How Much is An Old Penny Worth? (11 Types)

Americans use the term Penny for the one-cent coin, inspired by the British Penny. It was the first currency authorized in the Mint Act of 1792. The US Mint has produced over 300 billion pennies since 1787, with 11 different designs. Let’s discover average penny values.

 

Penny Value

1. Fugio copper cent

Fugio cent (Franklin cent, Mind your business, Sun Dial, Ring) was the first copper coin produced in the US in a private mint. It was also the first American official one-cent coin. Minting started in 1787 and lasted until the mid-1800s, and all 400,000 minted coins contained 100% copper.

Nowadays, you can recognize 55 Fugio cent varieties, including a few scarce. Probably the most collectible New Haven Restrike has two varieties, silver and copper. Only a couple dozen silver pieces still exist. The auction record for this coin goes to the F15 United States 4 Cinq. variety paid $109,250.

 

2. Flowing hair cent

Flowing hair cent

In 1793, the US Mint started full-time coin production, and Flowing hair cent was the first variety the Federal Government struck. You can recognize two reverse types, including:

  • Chain reverse
  • Wreath reverse

Henry Voigt designed both coins made of 100% copper. These hand-engraved pieces had 1 inch (26.5 mm) in diameter and weighed 0.45 troy ounces (13.48 g).

Flowing hair cent

Coin About circulated MS 60 MS 65
Chain reverse (36,103 minted)
AMERICA without periods $106,842 $253,536 $1,530,471
AMERICA with periods $118,743 $278,376 /
AMERI in legend $214,019 $537,546 /
Wreath reverse (63,353 minted)
Vines and bars edge 39,198 $77,378 /
Lettered edge 41,692 $82,428 $321,531

Chain cents were unpopular because this design reminded Americans of the slavery chains. As a result, only 36,103 pieces were minted, making them the rarest and highly collectible items in the US.

 

3. Liberty cap cent

Liberty cap cent
Image

A talented engraver Joseph Wright designed this early copper penny minted from 1793 to 1796. It had 1.14 inches (29 mm) in diameter and weighed 0.45 troy ounces (13.48 g).

Robert Scot revised the design in 1794 by turning Liberty’s face from the left to right side. The large cent Liberty cap cent was actual from 1793 to 1796 and had several revisions. Additionally, its legal weight and thickness were reduced in 1795.

Liberty cap cent

Year Mintage
1793 11,056
1794 918,521
1795 Jefferson Head 3
1795 Reeded edge 9
1795 Lettered edge 37,000
1795 Plain edge 501,500
1796 109,825

The most expensive MS 65 Liberty cap cents are:

  • 1794 with head of 1793 is worth $973,438
  • 1794 with head of 1795 is worth $321,533
  • 1796 $646,053

 

4. Draped bust cent

Draped bust cent
Image

Robert Scot designed this cent version with Liberty wearing a tied bow in her hair. The US Mint produced this coin weighing 0.35 troy ounces (10.89 g) with 1.14 inches (29 mm) in diameter from 1796 to 1807. Nowadays, you can recognize three reverse varieties containing wreaths with different leaves and berries.

Draped bust cent

Year Mintage
1796 363,375
1797 897,510
1798 1,841,745
1799 42,540
1800 2,822,175
1801 1,362,837
1802 3,435,100
1803 3,131,691
1804 96,500
1805 941,116
1806 348,000
1807 829,221

The average price varies from approximately $200 to $1,000 for most coins in fine condition. A few rare pieces are pretty expensive, including:

  • 1796 LIHERTY error costs $13,237
  • 1804 coin costs $17,167
  • Small 1807 7 Over 6 (Blunt 1) costs $48,371
  • 1799 coin costs $77,381
  • 1799 9 over 8 costs $87,636
  • 1803 large date (small fraction) costs $87,638

 

5. Classic head cent

Classic head cent
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John Reich introduced the Classic head design in 1808 and made some improvements in die steel. Unfortunately, the quality of the entire series is not high because of the soft copper used in minting.

Because of the copper planchets shortage in 1815, the US Mint stopped the minting process, making this year the only one missing from US cent coinage.

Classic head cent

Year Mintage
1808 1,007,000
1809 222,867
1810 1,458,500
1811 218,025
1812 1,075,500
1813 418,000
1814 357,830

The most expensive pieces are coins in extra fine condition from:

  • 1809 coin with a price of 4,154
  • 1811 Last 1 Over 0 with a price of 5,698

 

6. Coronet head cent

Coronet head cent
Image

The Coronet cents with the modern Robert Scot’s design were minted from 1816 to 1839. This coin made of 100% copper had a high mintage and is now one of the less expensive in the set.

Coronet head cent

Year Mintage
1816 2,820,982
1817 3,948,400
1818 3,167,000
1819 2,671,000
1820 4,407,550
1821 389,000
1822 2,072,339
1823 N/A
1824 1,262,000
1825 1,461,100
1826 1,517,425
1827 2,357,732
1828 2,260,624
1829 1,414,500
1830 1,711,500
1831 3,359,260
1832 2,362,000
1833 2,739,000
1834 1,855,100
1835 3,878,400
1836 2,111,000
1837 5,558,300
1838 6,370,200
1839 3,128,661

A list of the most valuable Coronet head cents in MS 63 grade include:

  • 1824 with 4 over 2 is worth $10,813
  • 1829 with medium letters is worth $11,556
  • 1821 coin is worth $12,231
  • 1834 with medium letters and large 8 and stars is worth $12,232
  • 1830 with medium letters is worth $27,511
  • 1839 with 9 over 6 (plain cords) is worth $97,465

 

7. Braided hair cent

Braided hair cent
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Braided Hair Cent made of 100% copper was minted from 1839 to 1857. With 1.1 inches (28.5 mm) in diameter, it was known as the last Large Cent. Christian Gobrecht did a great job with this design, and almost 71 million of these coins were produced for nearly two decades.

Braided hair cent

Year Mintage
1839 N/A
1840 2,462,700
1841 1,597,367
1842 2,383,390
1843 2,425,342
1844 2,398,752
1845 3,894,804
1846 4,120,800
1847 6,183,669
1848 6,415,799
1849 4,178,500
1850 4,426,844
1851 9,889,707
1852 5,063,094
1853 6,641,131
1854 4,236,156
1855 1,574,829
1856 2,690,463
1857 333,456

A list of the pricey Braided hair cent includes coins from:

  • 1843 mature with large letters that costs $1,002
  • 1846 with a tall date that costs $1,003
  • 1841 small date that costs $1,056
  • 1851 with 51 over 81 that costs $1,106
  • 1847 with 7 over small 7 that costs $1,423
  • 1843 petite with large letters that costs $1,671
  • 1844 with 44 over 81 that costs $2,890

 

8. Flying Eagle cent

Flying Eagle cent

Engraver James B. Longacre designed the new lighter coin type made of 88% copper and 12% nickel that weighed only 0.01 pounds (4.67 g). These cents looked brighter and got the name Nicks or White cents.

Flying Eagle Cent

Year Mintage MS 63 PR 63
1856 2,000 $24,037 $19,472
1857 17,450,000 $1,003 $9,435
1858 large letters 24,600,000 $1,003 $9,435
1858 small letters $1,003 $9,435
1858 with 8 over 7 $10,815 /

Flying Eagle cents minted in 1856 are extremely rare, with numerous altered coins and counterfeits, so you should be careful. You can also look for collectible rarities like:

  • 1858 large letters
  • 1858 small letters
  • 1858 double die obverse

 

9. Indian head cent

Indian head cent
Image

After introducing the Indian cent in 1859, the US Mint produced tens of million pieces until 1909. James B. Longacre designed this uncomplicated coin that satisfied Americans. It contained 88% copper and 12% nickel by 1864 when the metal composition was changed. New pieces were made of 95% copper and 5% zinc.

Indian head cent key dates

Year Mintage MS 63 PR 63

Copper-nickel laurel wreath without shield

1859 36,400,000 $640 $1,790

Copper-nickel oak wreath with shield

1860 20,566,000 $278 $1,100
1861 10,100,000 $362 $1,671
1862 28,075,000 $222 $1,000
1863 49,840,000 $222 $1,000
1864 13,740,000 $334 $1,000

Bronze composite penny

1864 with L N/A $640 $9,865
1873 double Liberty N/A $14,750 /
1877 852,500 $5,000 $2,890
1888 last 8 over 7 N/A $38,120 /

Since this cent doesn’t contain precious metals, its value comes only from coin collectors’ demands. Besides these few rarities that cost more, typical coins are pretty inexpensive.

 

10. Lincoln wheat cent

Lincoln wheat cent

Bronze composite Lincoln wheat penny appeared in 1909, commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday. Victor D. Brenner was the first engraver to add a historical figure on one US coin.

Lincoln wheat cent

Year Mintage MS 60 MS 63

Bronze composite penny (1909 to 1958)

1909 S VDB 484,000 $1,845 $2,220
1914 D 1,193,000 $2,220 $3,675
1917 doubled die obverse N/A $3,050 $6,350
1922 D without D mint mark N/A $12,240 $29,980
1936 doubled die obverse N/A $540 $2,465
1955 doubled die obverse N/A $4,158 $16,644
1958 doubled die obverse 3 $131,237 $214,211
Year Mintage MS 60 MS 65

Bronze/copper penny (1943)

1943 P 20 $389,968 /
1943 S 5 $565,610 /
1943 D 1 $864,689 $2,196,797
Year Mintage MS 60 MS 63

Steel penny

1944 P 30 $55,728 /
1944 S 2 $723,649 $1,084,051
1944 D 7 $59,073 /

A few Lincoln wheat cents worth considerable more in any condition, including:

  • 1909 S VDB
  • 1909 S with a re-punched mint mark
  • 1917 doubled die obverse
  • 1922 without a D mint mark
  • 1944 D with D over S
  • 1955/55 doubled die obverse

As a result of the urgent need for copper during World War II, the US Mint started producing zinc-coated Lincoln steel cent in 1943. These coins are rare because copper was returned to use as early as 1944.

 

11. Lincoln memorial cent

Lincoln memorial cent

In 1959, started Lincoln memorial cent production in honor of the 150th Abraham Lincoln’s birth anniversary. This coin consisted of 95% copper and 5% zinc and tin until 1982. From 1983  to 2008, the new penny contained a thin plating of copper over a zinc core.

 

Summary

A few crucial factors determine the penny value, and you can quickly distinguish it by checking coin type, mint mark, date, and condition. Learn how to recognize large and small cents and key dates and always have them checked before deciding to trade.

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