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Wheat Penny Value | Everything To Know About Wheat Pennies

Wheat Penny Value | Everything To Know About Wheat Pennies

February 16, 202456870 view(s)

While 83% of collectors think that their collections will ultimately get them rich, this isn't true for many people. However, there's a great way to strike it big as a coin collector: wheat pennies.

If you don't know about these items in your penny coin collection, you may be missing out on a lot of cash. Read on to learn the basics of wheat pennies and which ones are worth the money that you're looking to cash out for.

What Are Wheat Pennies?

The wheat penny was a one-cent coin minted between 1909 and 1958. It was originally conceived by President Theodore Roosevelt, who thought that United States coins did not have artistic merit. He set to resolve this issue by hiring sculptors, including Victor David Brenner, to create and launch new coin designs.

The result was Brenner's wheat penny. The front side of this coin featured the same Lincoln head that we still currently mint on pennies. It still used the phrases "In God We Trust" and "Liberty," and there was a mint year on the righthand side.

The reverse side is different from modern pennies and gives the "wheat penny" its name. Its bulk is made up of large text that proclaims it "One Cent - United States of America." Two sheathes frame this text.

The wheat is a message of hope to Americans. This is because the sheaths represent the blessings and wealth that the US offers to its constituents.

Many collectors find this coin valuable as part of their penny coin collection. It looks great in collector's books and allows for people to complete rare sets that they otherwise wouldn't have access to. These coins are fun to collect and hold onto, and creating sets means that you might be able to sell full collections for a higher price than individual coins.

The Value of Wheat Pennies

Not all wheat pennies are going to make you rich. Most of them trade for anywhere between three and five cents. While this isn't a lot of money, it's 300%-500% of the original value, so this is a pretty good return for longtime investors!

Still, some of them are worth several thousand dollars. These wheat pennies are few and far between, so you may not have any in your penny coin collection. However, it's worth looking at and determining what you have.

1909-S VDB Wheat Penny

The earliest minted wheat pennies have Victor D. Brenner's initials on their reverse side. They were below the wheat stalks and very prominent on the coin.

The San Francisco mint only made 484,000 original VDB wheat pennies. After a while, public irritation over the prominent location of Brenner's initials made mints change its position to the front side of the coin. At that point, "VDB" was placed right by Lincoln's shoulder.

This short spurt of minting the coins means that the 1909-S VDB coin is one of the highest-value wheat pennies out there. Usually, they'll go for anywhere between $750 and $1,200. However, some of them have gone for $12,000 in the past because of their grade and condition.

Note that not all VDB wheat pennies will fetch such an amazing price. There are 28 million 1909 VDB pennies that the Philadelphia Mint created (as opposed to those minted in San Francisco.) You can tell the difference because these are 1909-P VDB cents (standing for 'Philadelphia') while the rarer San Francisco ones are 1909-S (for San Francisco.)

If you see the P, your penny is worth about $3. Still a good return if you have a lot of them to sell!

1943-D Bronze Cent

Almost all pennies are made from copper, and wheat pennies were no exception. A copper coin from 1943 isn't going to be worth that much, but you may unwittingly be holding onto tens of thousands of dollars in the form of the 1943-D Bronze cent.

The D stands for Denver, which was the site of a brief minting incident during the year. One of the employees creating the coins put a bronze planchet into the coining press and struck it two times to create a strong imprint of the design. This coin therefore has an extremely strong strike, which makes sense since the mint professional was likely trying to keep it as a collectible.

There is only one of these coins in existence, and the ANACS declared it "genuine" in 1989. The NCG gave it an MS64BN grade, and it has been certified by PCGS. It's extremely legit, so it recently sold for $212,750.

That's the most that anyone has ever actually paid for a wheat penny!

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1943-1944 Steel Wheat Pennies

While you definitely aren't holding onto a 1943-D Bronze penny in your collection, you may be holding onto another special penny from that same year. This 1943-1944 wheat penny was made with steel, giving it a unique silver hue that we don't typically associate with pennies. Make sure that you don't overlook it in your coin collection by thinking it's a nickel at first glance!

This coin has a mixed mint mark and hasn't officially been graded. The coins can go for a wide range of prices, so you'll need to get yours professionally appraised for accuracy. Some of them have gone for over $5,000, so this is well worth the effort.

You also may hit the jackpot if you're holding onto a 1944-S Steel wheat penny. These are commonly worth $10,000 when in average circulated condition.

Only a handful exist since they were created by mistake, so they fetch a great price.

1955 Lincoln Cent - Doubled Die Obverse

Mint employees would sometimes create "doubled die" pennies by striking the metal they're made from twice. Sometimes, they could make the picture clearer if minted deliberately.

But since doubled-die coins were almost always made unintentionally, they had the image beaten onto their surface twice. This creates an offset image and text overlaying the original design. This mistake was an uncommon anomaly, and the 1955 doubled-die coin is one of the rarest out there.

There are only about 24,000 of them in existence, and they were put into circulation. Circulated versions of this coin are worth between $300 and $1,000 depending on what condition they're in. If you're lucky enough to find one in uncirculated condition, it's probably worth over $25,000.

These coins were minted very close to the end of the run of the wheat penny. They stopped being minted in 1958. 1958 wheat pennies are generally only worth 14¢ in extra fine grades, and average-condition ones are worth six cents.

This makes the 1955 doubled-die coins one of the most recently minted rare wheat pennies out there.

What Factors Determine Wheat Penny Value?

The coin itself is going to be the #1 contributing factor toward the value of wheat pennies. The best coins are rare, limited edition, and historically significant. However, this is far from the only thing that gives a wheat penny value.

Careful appraisals will let you know what your wheat pennies are worth. Some things that these appraisal experts look for include authenticity, condition, and appearance.


It's a sad fact of life that some people mint counterfeit coins. You may be holding onto one without even realizing it. In these cases, even a coin that looks valuable may have no worth.

Some people also don't know the difference between various mints and grades. A P coin minted in Philadelphia may not hold the same value as the same coin with an "S" on it. This is because the Philadelphia Mint may have created more of the coin than the San Francisco Mint did.

Higher mint grades also equal higher coin value. The appraisal expert will let you know the specifics of your mint grade after confirming that the coin is authentic.


The condition of a coin will also alter its value. Those that are in circulated condition may have a lot of rich history, making them worth a lot to collectors. However, their value will still be lower than those that are in mint condition.

This is because mint condition coins are rarer, and coming across them is harder. People are willing to pay more for them.


Mint condition coins have a better appearance than those in circulated condition, making them a better bet to help you save for retirement. Factors that contribute to coin value include:

  • Sheen
  • Luster
  • Color
  • Strike
  • Preservation strategies

An appraisal can help you figure out whether your coin's condition increases or decreases its value. But if you have an attractive and shining penny, you can bet that it's worth way more than the same coin would be in worse condition.

Wheat Pennies for Investors to Buy

Bolster Your Penny Coin Collection Today

Now that you know what some wheat pennies are worth and how you can determine value, it's time to get more tips on taking your penny coin collection to the next level. The United States Gold Bureau doesn't just offer a wide range of rare coins. We also provide investment advice for those looking to purchase collectible coins and precious metals.

Our free investor guide will help you understand what coins qualify as must-haves. You'll also learn what coins and metals make for good hedges against inflation. Claim your precious metals investment guide today to start purchasing collectible coins like wheat pennies with confidence.

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