Tag Archives: Penny

Top 5 Most Valuable Pennies

One of the most looked down upon coins is probably the one that we use the least. The penny, it sits in our coin jar waiting for us to exchange our full jar of coins for some extra pocket cash. But, what if I told you that some of those pennies in your pocket or change jar, are worth more than your entire change jar? Some of those pennies are the most sought after coins that numismatists collect. Here’s our list of the top 5 most valuable pennies.

No.5 – 1923 Wheat Penny

This Lincoln wheat penny can be a bit of a crapshoot. Due to how many were produced, this coin can be worth as little as $.75 or as much as $750. One of the reasons being is that this sought after coin has no mint mark. It is one of the few years where the coin was produced outside of the Philadelphia mint.

No. 4 – 1909 VDB-S Lincoln Penny

This is one of the most coveted pennies by Numismatists. The VDB-S penny comes from when the Lincoln Penny was first minted. The VDB are the artist’s initials who designed the Lincoln cent and the S comes from the coin being minted in San Francisco. Only 484,000 were minted with the artist’s initals as there was public outcry for them being removed. A coin in good condition with the VDB-S mint mark can be worth just shy of $3,000. Makes it worth checking your pennies to see if you have one of these jewels hiding in your change drawer.

No. 3 – 1914-D Lincoln Wheat Penny

The 1914 minted out of Denver is considered a key date for the Lincoln Penny collectors. With only 1.1 million of this coin minted from the Denver Mint, this date has become a keystone to many collections as it is one of the most valuable non-error wheat pennies. One of these found in  good condition can fetch up to $4,300! Nice down payment on a house or car, if I do say so myself.

No. 2 – 1943 Copper Wheat Penny

The 1943 copper wheat penny is considered one of the crown jewels of collectors. The reason being is that there are very few in existence. Due to the copper shortage during WWII most of the copper used for pennies was re-purposed towards the war effort. Any of the copper pennies that were released that year were mistakes by the mint and as such were never supposed to be in circulation to begin with. Due to this, there are numerous fakes in collecting circulations. If you do have one that is real, you could be sitting on a coin worth up to $100,000! Not to shabby for old Abe’s coin.

No. 1 – 1944 Steel Wheat Penny

Coming in at Number 1 is the 1944 steel wheat penny. This penny that was issued during WWII was to replace the copper one during the war years. But because of the weak composition not many were made, which made this coin extremely rare. Like the 1943 copper wheat penny, this coin could be worth more than $100K!

Well that’s it, who knew that pennies could be so valuable? Definitely worth taking a look through your change drawer or old coin box. Now if you excuse me, I have some coins to sift through.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.

Share

A Brief History of US Coins

Something that is quite fascinating that many people don’t actually know is the history of that change that sits in your change jar or in your car. For example, did you know that the dime is actually the third iteration of the dime? Or that there used to be a half dime before there was a nickel? Or that the Lincoln penny is actually the latest in a very long line of pennies? Today, we delve briefly into the history of our pocket change and see the rich history from where our currency comes from.

The Lincoln Penny

1909-S VDB Lincoln cent

For many of us, the Lincoln head penny is the only penny that we know, with Lincoln’s profile on one side and the monument on the other. But, the truth is that the Lincoln cent piece didn’t start in circulation until 1909 and broke the mold where minting was concerned as it was the first US coin to feature a president on it. It had been tradition since Washington’s presidency that no coin feature the depiction of a president past or present. So when this coin was brought up for review, it had met some resistance from traditionalists, but they all fell by the way side in front of Theodore Roosevelt who pushed the coin design through after having just approved four new designs for the gold eagle denominations. The first year it was minted the lincoln cent had the designers initials VDB at the base of the reverse. This led to a public outcry and the initals were quickly removed, which in turn, created the coveted 1909-S VDB cent. Another interesting fact, in 1943, when copper was scarce during World War II, the penny was made out of a steel alloy which led to another collector’s item. Who knew the penny would hold so much sway?

1943 Steel Lincoln Cent Obverse

The Steel Lincoln Penny

The Jefferson Nickel

1945 Jefferson NickelIntroduced in 1938, the Jefferson Nickel is the only coin to still be made of its original composition today. Almost 80 years later, this humble coin is still being minted honoring our third president. Early in 1938 the Treasury Department announced a competition for designs to replace the Buffalo/Indian Head nickel. The rules of the contest was that the obverse would feature an “authentic portrait” of our third president with the reverse featuring his home near Charlottesville. Additionally, the design had to fit the technical requirements of Mint. Out of 390 models, German-American Felix Schlag’s design was selected. Schlag’s initials didn’t appear on the nickel until almost 30 years later.

The Roosevelt Dime

Silver Roosevelt DimeAnother coin with a rich history is the dime. The first ten cent piece was coined in 1793 and was the last of the first issuance of coins when the US mint first opened. The dime’s design has changed over 11 times since its first issuance in 1793, with an average of 12 years per major design. The Roosevelt Dime has been the longest running design in the coin’s lifespan with it coming to it’s 70th birthday in 2016. The Roosevelt Dime was issued under pressure from the US public who, in 1945, wanted some memorial for the fallen leader. This coin broke the 40 year tradition of asking outside artists for designs and was tasked internally by the US mint to their chief engraver. While there are no rare dates for the Roosevelt dime, there is one premium dime that is worth more than its silver bullion value, the 1949-S dime that was minted out of the US mint in San Francisco.

The Washington Quarter

Washington Silver Quarter 1944

Our final coin today is the Quarter. The Washington Quarter’s story is interesting to say the least. After the dark shadow of the Great Depression had fallen across the us in 1931, Americans had little to celebrate. However, the following year, 1932, would mark George Washington’s 200th birthday and to help bolster public spirit the Treasury Department were ready to mark the occasion. Originally, the Treasury Department had proposed a half dollar be struck to honor the birth of the founding father. The contest was started early and while most entrants were denied, one had gained unanimous favor by the Commission of Fine arts. The original design of the coin was done by Laura Gardin Fraser, the designer for the Oregon Trail commemorative coin and wife to the creator of the Buffalo nickel. However, the commission wasn’t the only party that needed to be pleased for the coin to be minted.

Congress then got into the debate, due to the fact that the Treasury Department needed their approval to change the design for the half dollar. Once they were asked, they instead compromised and decided to change the quarter instead. But, it was the final person, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who still had something to say.

Mr. Mellon, had his own views on art, and felt that the design by John Flanagan was superior to the Fraser design. Flanagan’s design was simple, more like a portrait with Washington’s profile on the obverse and a heraldic eagle adorning the reverse. With it’s simple design the mint was able to issue the coin easily and quickly. Since it began production of the coin in 1932, the mint has issued over 21 billion coins, an amazing quantity by any standard.

Well, I hope you liked our brief look into the history of our nation’s coinage, if you’re interested in our selection of collectable coins, you can browse through them here.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.

Share