Beautifully designed Wheat pennies are part of many numismatic collections. Since these coins are common nowadays, you can find most dates at affordable prices.
However, some Wheat pennies are rare and valuable, especially pieces in mint condition. Once you decide to part with your collection, you will probably wonder where to sell Wheat pennies and their value. Let’s see.
Wheat Penny History
Three mints produced Wheat (Lincoln) pennies from 1909 to 1958, including Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. They minted these coins in bulk for mass circulation. For instance, the highest mintage was in 1944, with enormous 1,435,400,000 wheat pennies.
The idea arose on the eve of the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birth anniversary. The then President, Theodore Roosevelt, decided that Lincoln’s bust should be on the penny obverse in honor of this great man.
Initially, the coin’s reverse had VDB initials, standing for the designer initials. However, mints quickly started producing Wheat pennies without this detail.
As you can guess, pieces minted in San Francisco and Denver have mint marks, while those produced in Philadelphia don’t. The Philadelphia mint hasn’t put the mint mark on pennies until 2017.
Most Wheat pennies spent years in circulation so that you can notice numerous signs of wear on their surfaces. In other words, any of them won’t bring you a fortune.
However, having a complete set of mint-graded Lincoln pennies opens up sales opportunities. Luckily, there are many convenient ways to sell your coins:
1. Local coin sellers
A certified local coin shop is an excellent place to sell your coins. The best option is to find a reputable and trustworthy dealer who can estimate a penny’s value.
Most coin shops will offer you a fair deal, as they depend on customers’ recommendations and satisfaction. On the plus side, you will get money right away without complications.
Still, you should never forget that dealers buy your pennies to resell them. You can expect they want to profit, so you will get less money than by selling coins directly to a collector.
If you have a rare or pricey coin in your collection, you should consider selling it at an auction. You can pick out an online auction house or visit one of many public places. The sale principle is the same in both cases, and interested collectors will bid for your pennies.
The advantage of an auction is that there are often several interested clients, so the coins price usually rises. A rare mint-state coin can bring you thousands of dollars with a bit of luck.
However, you also risk getting a lower price than you expected. That is a case when the particular auction doesn’t have enough followers or has failed to attract suitable bidders. Therefore, the best option is to contact several auction houses and inquire about their terms and payment methods.
In any case, you need to pay a fee based on the coin sales value. Be prepared that it is possible to get the money almost instantly at some auctions, but you have to wait a certain period at others, depending on their policy.
3. Online sites
The Internet provides you with numerous sites and opportunities to sell your coins. For instance, you can find online dealers or advertise your pennies on eBay and similar sites.
Unfortunately, most of these options come with a high fee. You need to pay for listings, additional photos, and other selling options. Plus, their percentage is not negligible and ranges from 5% to 15%, depending on the site.
In some cases, online dealers require you to send the coin in advance, but you need to wait for money for more than a month. Don’t forget that shipping costs are also on you.
4. Coin shows
There are hundreds of coin shows organized worldwide every year. These public events bring together collectors of coins, tokens, gambling chips, and medals.
You can visit a local show to meet both experts and amateur numismatists. The primary advantage of this option is the possibility of finding many reputable dealers in one place instead of visiting them one by one.
They can inspect your pennies and give you value evaluation or offer on the spot. Unfortunately, these events occur only semi-annually or annually. If you are not ready to travel, you may need to wait several months or even years for a chance to sell your coins.
5. Pawn shops
Going to a local pawnshop has many advantages and drawbacks. On the plus side, you will get cash immediately, whether you decide to pawn or sell your coins.
Pawnshops accept all kinds of goods, and most traders lack numismatic knowledge. So, there is a chance that a guy in a shop won’t consider the historical value of your pennies.
Plus, a shop owner pays for rent, bills, and workers. The offer you will get is probably much less than the actual coin value. You can get something over the coin’s metal value in the best-case scenario.
If you choose a pawn shop, don’t just walk in the first one you find. Ask your friends and colleagues for a recommendation and pick the one with the best reputation.
6. Smelters and refiners
If you do your homework and estimate that your Wheat pennies collection is not worth much, find a local smelter and ask them for an offer.
Up to 1943, Lincoln pennies contained 95% copper. In 1943, mints started producing zinc-coated steel pennies due to war needs of copper.
So, smelters and refiners will be interested in buying your worthless pieces. Even though you will only get their metal value, it is better than nothing in the case when you have a bulk of low-value circulated coins.
Plus, you can add other copper objects to your coins when selling them, like broken jewelry or old cutlery.
7. Forums and social media
Although most experts advise against selling coins on social networks, some choose this option. Most social sites have groups and pages that bring together people of similar interests, including numismatics.
You can post your Wheat pennies photos and ask for a recommendation, appraise, or sell them on site. Keep in mind there are many scammers and fake profiles on social networks.
If you plan to arrange a meeting to sell your coins, pick a public place so that things won’t go wrong.
Wheat Penny Value
As I have already mentioned, most Wheat pennies are common and worth under $1. However, some key dates can cost a couple hundred dollars, especially in an uncirculated grade. The list of rare pieces includes:
- 1909 S VDB
- 1909 S over-horizontal S with the re-punched mintmark
- 1917 Doubled die obverse
- 1943 Bronze/copper
- 1943 D Bronze/copper
- 1943 Copper/bronze
- 1944 D/D over S double die
- 1955/55 Double die
Additionally, the 1944 steel Wheat penny in an average condition can bring you $77,000, while scarce specimens in the mint state are worth over $100,000.
Typically, this date was made of copper/bronze, but Philadelphia mint used some old steel blanks by mistake and made a few unique pieces.
Factors Affecting Wheat Pennies Value
If you have a Wheat penny collection, you can decide to sell them coin by coin or offer them as a series. Several factors influence their value, such as:
Date – For instance, the 1909 VDB penny is worth around $10 on average, while you can sell the 1912 coin for a little over $1.
Mint mark – S or D marked pennies typically have a higher value than those without mint marks.
Grade – The difference between a penny in good and very fine condition can be tens of dollars.
Demand – As demand increases, so does the coins’ price.
Coin melt value – Pieces made of precious metal are always worth money, even if they are in poor condition.
Errors and key dates – Collectors highly appreciate rarities, making them almost always pricey.
Tips to Sale Wheat Pennies
If you are not sure of your Wheat pennies’ value, there is no need to rush into selling them. You may have one or two rare coins in your bulk, so the first thing is to inspect them closely and do your research. Some helpful tips can help you get more money:
Expert assessment – Always have a rare penny or key date professionally certified. The expert grade means a more realistic offer for your pennies.
Catalog – Make a catalog and sort your coins in groups by date. It is crucial if you have valuable pieces.
Photographs – Take several quality photos of both the coin obverse and reverse. You should also take an enlarged photo of the error if you have any.
Cleaning – Avoid cleaning coins, especially never use chemicals for this job. That is the fastest way to damage their surfaces and lower their value.
Be realistic – Avoid overpricing your coin, or you will probably have a problem selling it.
There are plenty of options for selling Wheat pennies, both physically and online. However, be aware there are many hustlers. Therefore, it is crucial to find out your coin’s approximate value first if you have a piece in the mint state, an error, or a key date. Such specimens are always pricey.