Most of us take a penny for granted, valuing it at one cent. While it’s true that most of them have the lowest value of all coins ever produced, there are some that could be worth a small fortune. These little pieces of copper represent the lowest monetary denomination in coinage, but certain years and production runs are rare and extremely valuable. Here are the five most expensive pennies that have ever been sold at auction. After you see what they fetched the owners, you may change your mind about the value of a penny.
5. 1856 Flying Eagle Penny – $172,500
If you come into possession of a Flying Eagle Cent that is marked with an 1856 date, it’s worth some real money. One of these coins was sold in Orlando, Florida through Heritage Auctions. The sale took place in January of 2004 for a whopping $172,500. The coin was in uncirculated condition, which made it extremely rare. Prior to this year of production, the size of the pennies made was equal to the size of a modern mint of the half-dollar. The amount of copper that was being used was worth more than a cent because the price of copper as a commodity was high at the time. It was in 1856 that the U.S. Mint reduced the size of the pennies being made to the diameter that we’re familiar with currently. 1856 represents the first smaller sized coins made.
4. 1909 VDB Proof Lincoln Penny – $258,500
In August of 2014, a very special 1909 Lincoln Penny was sold in Chicago, Illinois through Heritage Auctions. This rare coin was sold for an amazing $258,500. The penny was in uncirculated condition and featured rainbow toning with a red and brown coloring. The reason for the VDB on the coin is that Lincoln Pennies were first made in 1909 with the new design and the designer added his initials to the coin at the bottom of the tails side. This was a departure from the tradition of just using one of the initials. This extremely coin is from a limited run of just 1,194 that were ever produced. Finding one in uncirculated condition is very hard to do.
3. 1943-S Lincoln Penny made of Bronze – $282,000
In February of 2016, a Lincoln Penny dated 1943-S which was made on bronze was sold in Long Beach, California through Heritage Auctions for an amazing $282,000. While most of the pennies made at this time were struck on zinc plated steel, this coin was struck on a bronze planchet which at the time, was an error. That mistake was made in 1943 at the San Francisco mint and there are only 6 known examples in existence. These factors make this a very rare penny indeed.
2. 1944-S Lincoln Steel Penny – $373,750
A 1944-S Lincoln penny sold in August of 2008 in Baltimore, Maryland by Heritage Auctions for $373,750. The coin was in uncirculated condition and was struck on a zinc plated steel planchet. This rare coin was part of a production run that was supposed to be made of an alloy of 5% tin and 95% copper, but for some reason, this wasn’t caught until a few had been produced. It’s a rare coin that was part of a minting error and it fetched a pretty penny for the owner who sold it to a lucky collector.
1. 1943-D type Lincoln Bronze Penny – $1.7 million
The most expensive penny that has ever been sold at auction is a 1943-D Lincoln penny that had been struck on a bronze planchet. The penny was in uncirculated condition. It was sold in a private sale in September of 2010 and it went for an unbelievable price of $1,700,000 through Legend Numismatics. The penny was created on a bronze alloy when it was supposed to be struck on the zinc plated steel at the Denver mint. It is believed that some pennies from production in 1942 accidentally got into the line in San Francisco and Philadelphia mints and there have been around 20 examples found from these locations, but only one is known to exist from the Denver mint, and this is one of the factors that makes it so highly valuable. There isn’t another one like it known to exist in the world. Who would have believed that a single Lincoln penny could actually be valued at nearly 2 million dollars? It pays to check the dates on those pennies every now and then.