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Rare Pennies Found in Circulation

Updated on August 10, 2012

Rare Pennies

If you're in the hunt to become the next millionaire from a penny plucked from pocket change, good luck! It's not that I don't believe you can't find one, it's more or less just the fact that the odds aren't even remotely in your favor. However, with that said, there's still quite a few valuable pennies in circulation today. Sure, you won't strike it rich if you do find one, but with some of these rare pennies in circulation reaching $500 in value, you'd be glad you took a minute to glance at your pocket change! There's billions of pennies currently in circulation, so there's always the chance that you could find something. This article will explore six of the most valuable pennies in circulation.

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The 1955 DDO Wheat Penny is a great example of what a Double Die Error looks like. Photo Courtesy: coinpage.com
The 1955 DDO Wheat Penny is a great example of what a Double Die Error looks like. Photo Courtesy: coinpage.com

Six Valuable Pennies in Circulation:

Lets face it, somethings are just too good to be true. When I read articles saying that there's a chance of finding 1955 double die and 1943 copper cents in circulation, I can't help but chuckle. Sure, there's not an overwhelming populous of coin collectors, but I can almost guarantee that they've removed virtually all these coins from circulation. Not to mention, there is only a handful of 1943 copper cents in existence! So, without taking a fantastical approach, I've focused on six modern mintage Lincoln Cents that have a reasonable chance of being found in circulation.

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#1. 1983 Double Die Reverse

Characteristics: The term 'Double Die' refers to an error in the minting process, in which the coin was struck twice. This double striking of the die leaves the coin's design looking slightly overlapped. In the 1983 Double Die on the reverse side, the words 'ONE CENT' indicate this error. It may be difficult to spot with the naked eye, but upon placing the coin under 10x magnification, it should be clear that there is two layers of words.

Value: Since this coin is most likely going to be the hardest of my six pennies to find, it does pull in higher values. Specimens in mint state condition are currently selling for $275.

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1984 Double Ear Lincoln Penny. Photo Courtesy: coinpage.com
1984 Double Ear Lincoln Penny. Photo Courtesy: coinpage.com

#2. 1984 Double Ear

Characteristics: The 1984 double ear penny is often also referred to as a Double Die Obverse error. The error that can be seen on the coin is a second earlobe below the full ear on Lincoln's head. The 1984 double ear Lincoln cent can be easily spotted without magnification.

Value: Recently I've observed I slight increase in the prices of this error penny. It might indicate that these are getting to be a little harder to find in circulation. Right now specimens in mint state condition are selling for around $230.

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#3. 1992D Close AM

Characteristics: This minted Lincoln Penny isn't an error at all, but instead a rare variety. You'll need to look at reverse of the coin and closely observe the "AM" in America. If the coin in question is the rare variety, the A and M will be so close to each other it will look as if they are touching. Regular minted coins from this year will have a noticeable gap between the two letters.

Value: This penny proves to be a pretty rare variety, pulling in values of $500 in mint state condition, but with almost 4.5 Billion pennies produced at the Denver Mint in 1992, there's a good chance that these still exist in circulation.

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#4. 1995 Double Die Obverse

Characteristics: This is the latest recognized error Lincoln Penny that the Mint produced. Although there are different degrees of Doubling on the 1995 Penny, the word "Liberty" is a good indication of the Double Die Error. This error might be hard to see with the eye, but magnification should reveal the 'layered' lettering.

Value: I hear stories of people finding these coins in rolls of common circulation pennies. If you do happen to come across one, they are worth $50 in mint state condition.

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Click thumbnail to view full-size
Shown above is a Wide AM Variety. Some Pennies of 1998, 1999, and 2000 exhibit this trait. It is normal for all coins minted before 1994. Shown above is the close AM variety. Few coins in 1992 exhibit this trait. It is normal for all pennies minted after 1993.
Shown above is a Wide AM Variety. Some Pennies of 1998, 1999, and 2000 exhibit this trait. It is normal for all coins minted before 1994.
Shown above is a Wide AM Variety. Some Pennies of 1998, 1999, and 2000 exhibit this trait. It is normal for all coins minted before 1994.
Shown above is the close AM variety. Few coins in 1992 exhibit this trait. It is normal for all pennies minted after 1993.
Shown above is the close AM variety. Few coins in 1992 exhibit this trait. It is normal for all pennies minted after 1993.

#5. 1998 Wide AM

Characteristics: All pennies minted for circulation after 1993 depicted the word "AMERICA" with the letters A and M nearly touching. Due to the use of a Proof die on regular minted coins, the 1998 Wide AM was born. If you have one of these variety coins, there should be a small space between the A and the M. If they look nearly touching, its normal.

Value: This variety of Penny is worth about $15 in mint state condition. Even though its mintage is unknown, it's value tells me that they might be fairly common. They might just be one of the easier to find error coins in circulation. Keep your eyes peeled!

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It's fairly hard with the naked eye to distinguish between Close and Wide AM varieties, so an inexpensive magnifier may be needed.

#6. 1999 Wide AM

Characteristics: This coin features the same Proof die reverse as the 1998 Wide AM coin. If you have a rare variety penny, it will have a small space between the letters A and M in "AMERICA".

Value: This is definitely one of the most valuable pennies in circulation, as its values can reach $500 in mint state condition.

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Now that you've read through this list of valuable coins in circulation, you'll hopefully be able to go out there and find a few for yourself. I'm curious to hear about your discoveries, so please tell me what you found and how you went about finding it! As always, good luck!

Can't seem to get enough of American coins? Be sure to check out these other great articles. There's plenty of information covering error coins in circulation and value guides for all your favorite coins!

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    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I had never knew about this before. Thanks for share with us and I learn much from you. Wonderful job. Vote up and useful.

      Prasetio

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

      Being Canadian, I have collected all sorts of Canadian coins though I tend to keep American coinage as well. I'll be looking through my rolls for telltale signs to their value if there is minting errors on them. I have a full set of old King George pennies -- one from each year they were minted except for two. I'm still hunting for these two years! :)

      Thanks for the great info -- the photos are invaluable tools to help understand excactly what is being looked for.

      Two thumbs up!!

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 5 years ago from Oakland, California

      Good information to keep handy incase you spot something ! Bookmarked and voted up

    • felicitylovespari profile image

      felicitylovespari 5 years ago

      Gosh. I wonder how many of these we come into contact with over the years that we don't identify.

      There must be a lot. I wouldn't have noticed any of course.

      Great info!

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      @prasetio30 - Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.

      @Beth100 - I had to go look them up, but the King George Pennies look like a real cool set to collect. That's pretty awesome that you're only missing two. I collect Lincoln Pennies, but I'm missing quite a few due to some being so rare. Thanks for the feedback.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      @Alladream74 - I'm glad that you found this to be of reference. Hopefully you'll be able to find a valuable penny of your own. Thanks for the feedback.

      @felicitylovespari - I can't even begin to imagine how many hands these coins can pass through. The 'passing of hands' is what penny collectors rely on. Thanks for reading.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Good information. Thanks for sharing. Guess, I'll have to look at my penny collection.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

      Our pennies are simple, but what I really enjoy collecting is old Canadian printed money. Literally, the old bills look like Monopoly money -- colorful with each denomination with it's own color. The basic color for each denomination is still kept today - fives = blue, ten = purple, 20 = green, 50 = red, 100 = brown/copper, 1000 = violet. It's great to see some color in the American paper bills -- my Texan friends can no longer call my money "play money". :D

      I am now hunting for info regarding American dimes. My son has a full set beginning in the 50's and after reading this, he wants to find out if any of his dimes are worth more than the minted value. :)

      Thanks for giving him a reason to continue collecting... and research on his hobby! :)

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      I've never actually seen Canadian paper money before. I know that when the US twenty, ten and five got an overhaul and colors added that it shocked people. When they were first released, I had customers that actually thought I was trying to rip them off by giving them fake money. It was a unique adjustment.

      As far as your hunt for American Dimes, I have a hub for you. That particular year through Present day is known as the Roosevelt Dime.

      https://hobbylark.com/collecting/Value-of-Roosevel...

      I'm glad I could be some motivation to keep the collecting spirit alive!

    • Ira Mency profile image

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 5 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      Love love love this article. I'm going to need a whole day to go through my stacks of pennies LOL

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      Ira Mency - Thanks for you kind feedback. I'm glad that you enjoyed the article. Good luck going through all your pennies. It sounds like you have a lot on your hands.

    • Jonathan Grimes profile image

      Jonathan Grimes 5 years ago from Devon

      Interesting hub on a great subject. As a metal detectorist I collect coins that I have found myself. Old English hammered coins are some of the best I have. I've found a few in my time and have placed a few on my new blog at the following link, if you are interested.

      http://metaldetectorreviewsuk.com/metal-detecting-...

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      Hey Jonathan, I finally took some time to drop by your blog, and to say in the least, I'm amazed! I have no knowledge of UK coins, but with all that history, I'm sure that every find is a heart thumping experience. Thanks for reading and take care.

    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 5 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      Wow I actually have one of these pennies. Are they all the same? Though it is not in to good of shape.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      lucybell21 - That's pretty cool. I'm not exactly sure I understand your question about them all being the same. Let me know and I'll try help out. Thanks

    • profile image

      Jacob D. 5 years ago

      This is a useful article. I have been searching through pennies for a couple months now. I have always been a collector but have recently changed my focus on more modern errors. In the past few months I have found 2 98 wide am's. 12 2000 wide am's. An 84 double ear. A 1995 ddo and many others. Still haven't found the 99 wide am though. Real tough to find

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      Jacob D. - Great finds! You've stacked up quite a bit of error coins. I haven't been looking through any penny rolls lately, but with what you've been finding, I've got to go get some. Thanks for reading and good luck on that '99 Wide AM!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Came across this when I was looking for something else. What an interesting and useful hub. I have jars of coins, mostly filled with pennies. I always keep the really old onces when I clean the jars out. Never thought about looking for newer pennies too! Voted up and shared.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      We have a vending machine business and have more coins than I can go through but I continue to try. No pennies but have found rare quarters Bookmarking this. Voted up and useful. Thanks for the info!

    • Craig Hartranft profile image

      Craig Hartranft 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I've got a 1909 VDB penny, obviously not in circulation.

    • profile image

      steelers88 4 years ago

      I have a 1995 D penny, on Lincoln's face, neck, and chest are 3 lines and behind his ear there is the letter "S". Do you know where I can find images of this penny? I have looked everywhere and can't find any. Thank you in advance.

    • profile image

      Jtp6923 4 years ago

      I have a 1955 penny that must be a double strike. You can see the wheat coming thru on the front of the penny. Any help.with the value of this coin would be appreciated.

    • profile image

      Jose 4 years ago

      Hey i found a 2000 frosty white penny. Can anyone tell me how rare it is and what's it worth

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 4 years ago from Colorado

      Jtp6923- Sounds like an interesting coin you have there. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to even grade a coin without seeing it, so I'd have no idea as to its value. For best results, visit you're local coin dealer. Much of the time, they'll be more than happy to tell you a little more about the coin you possess. Thanks for reading.

      Jose - That frosty white penny sounds a lot like corrosion of some sort. It's most likely not rare because the coin is damaged, and worth one cent! Thanks for stopping by to read.

    • Deltachord profile image

      Deltachord 4 years ago from United States

      I'm not a collector, but the article is interesting. I tweeted your article.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 4 years ago from Colorado

      Deltachord - Thank you for your feedback. Maybe now, you'll be better suited to pluck out some pennies!

    • Mitch Alan profile image

      Mitch Alan 4 years ago from South Jersey

      Very interesting. I might need to carry this list around with me... just in case.

    • profile image

      Chris 3 years ago

      One of my favorite things about collecting pennies, and coins in general is that you just never know when you're going to stumble upon a rare or valuable coin. The hardest part for me has been trying to remember important years so I can narrow down the amount of research I have to do. Thanks for this list, I'll definitely be referring to it later.

      Chris

      http://valuableworldcoins.com/recent-posts/most-va...

    • profile image

      chris 3 years ago

      i have a 1984 d penny misstrike has rica of america spelt backwards over the top of the presidents head along with part of the building pressed in the top of the presidents head what would that be worth

      ?

    • profile image

      Tom Leed 3 years ago

      I like to get five dollars worth of pennies a week and go through them to find a GOOD one. I bought my self a cherry pickers guide a few months ago and after that I had an idea what to look for. This week in one of the rolls of pennies I found a 1997 Lincoln cent with the second ear. GOOD FIND in ms condition. Book value $250.00

    • profile image

      Gary 3 years ago

      I have a 2000 D Lincoln penny with OH inside the shape of the state of Ohio above the date. Can anyone provide any info?

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 3 years ago from Colorado

      Hello Gary,

      You most likely are in possession of a penny that has been stamped after the minting process. In fact, I found a penny much like yours, but instead has California on it. Though they are unique, I doubt the extra "State" stamp provides any more value.

    • profile image

      LisaKeating 2 years ago

      Interesting hub. I wish I had started collecting coins at an early age.

    • profile image

      eric 2 years ago

      I found a 1986 d Lincoln penny that has a double mint Lincoln is on the front twice and there are other things that we can't find anything about

    • profile image

      johnny 2 years ago

      I have a 1992 silver penny can somebody tell me some information about this penny

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 24 months ago from Colorado

      Eric - This coin sounds pretty cool. I am unaware of any double die coins from 1986. I would advise you to take it to a local coin dealer and see what they have to say about this error.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 24 months ago from Colorado

      Johnny - While your coin may be pretty cool to look at, your penny was likely silver-plated sometime after it left the mint. There's no extra value associated with this kind of alteration. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      TERRY 21 months ago

      i might be crazy but i think iv got a 1999D penny with a close in my question is it worth anything besides a penny thanks for any help.

    • Joe Macho profile image
      Author

      Zach 20 months ago from Colorado

      Terry - I apologize for the delayed response. Pennies from 1999 & 2000 with close "AM" are normal for those years. If the AM was wide, the coins would be errors. Good luck to you!

    • profile image

      terry 20 months ago

      another question iv got a 1996D penny& a close am is it got anyworth? thanks

    • profile image

      Greg 2 months ago

      You should look up the difference between machine doubling and double die you've got it wrong

    • profile image

      Eddie 2 months ago

      I have wheat pennies with no letters s or d

      On them 1941,1925,1943,1955, I know nothing about value. Help please

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