The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

10 Rare Pennies to Look for in Your Coin Jar

Ever wonder if that coin jar laying around your house has any value? Or are you new to coin collecting? Here is a list of ten rare pennies you want to be on the lookout for that either hold some historical significance or are worth more than face value.

 

  1. 1983 Doubled Die Reverse Lincoln Penny

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A doubled die coin refers to a mistake in the minting process where a coin is struck twice. This means the coin’s design will be overlapped slightly. In the 1983 doubled die penny, the error is noticeable on its backside where the phrase ‘ONE CENT’ is printed. It may be difficult to spot at first, but when under magnification, it is very clear that there are two layers of words.

 

  1. 1984 and 1997 “Double-Ear” Lincoln Penny

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During the minting process on the obverse side of the coin a double die gave Abraham Lincoln’s engraved portrait an extra earlobe. This one is easy to spot with the naked eye.

 

  1. 1909-S VDB Lincoln Penny

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1909 is the first year of the Lincoln cent making it a particularly interesting one. Also be on the lookout for the designers initials of Victor D Brenner’s on the reverse. The large VDB marking on the reverse was only kept for a couple of days but when deemed too prominent was removed.

 

  1. 1990 No S Proof Lincoln Penny

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In 1985 the U.S. Mint abandoned the practice of punching mint marks into working coin dies and instead, it began punching the mint mark directly onto the working hubs. However, the 1990 No S Proof Lincoln cent was inadvertently struck by a mint state die that had been processed as a proof die. This occurred because the Mint had shipped a mint state die to the San Francisco Mint without the die containing the S mint mark. Surprisingly, the 1990 No S Proof Lincoln cents deceived both the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mint employees.

 

  1. 1943 Copper Penny

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In 1943, all pennies were made out of steel. The U.S. Mint decided to use steel instead of copper because they needed the copper for military equipment during World War 2. But a few copper pennies from that year were minted. There are only a few known to exist, but it is believed that there may be more out there.

 

  1. 1909-S Indian Cent

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Similar to the 1909-S Lincoln Penny – this is the last year the Indian Cent was minted. Because the Lincoln Penny began production this year there are a smaller amount of total 1909-S Indian Cent’s than other years making it more rare and valuable.

 

  1. 1992 Close “AM” Penny

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For these coins you’re going to want to check their backsides. What you are looking for is the placement of the letters “A” and “M” in the word “AMERICA.” In 1993, all pennies switched to the close AM design. Therefore, the pennies from 1992 should have a noticeable space between the “A” and the “M.” So if there is no space between the “A” and “M “on the backside of yours, then you have a rare coin.

 

  1. 1993 Wide “AM” Penny

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In 1993, the penny switched to a close AM design—the two letters actually touch! A few of them managed to slip by with the old, wide AM design. For this year you will want to look on the reverse for a space between the “A” and the “M”.

 

  1. 1955 Double Die Lincoln Penny

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In 1955, 20,000 to 24,000 doubled die pennies were released to the public, mostly as change given from cigarette vending machines. The doubling is visible on the letters and numbers almost entirely, with the bust of Lincoln remaining unaffected.

 

  1. 1886 Indian Head Penny

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There were two different versions of the design printed that year — one with the last feather from the headdress pointing toward the space between the “I” and “C” of “AMERICA” and the second version with the feather pointing between the “C” and “A” instead. The second version is the more valuable of the two.


Think you might have one or more of these coins but are unsure? Or you have a different interesting coin that isn’t listed? Download the Lookzee app on Google Play or iOS App Store and share your coin with the Lookzee forums. The forum is a great place to connect with coin collectors and learn more about coins!

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