Since the wheat penny was released in 1909, it became one of America’s favorite and beloved coins. Now that wheat pennies have not been minted for over fifty years, they are worth more than their face value. But just how much more?
The rarest wheat pennies are known as key dates, and they are: 1909-S VDB, 1909-S, 1914-D and 1931-S. All of these coins were minted in very small quantities so they are much more difficult to acquire than the wheat pennies of most dates. Depending on condition, these pennies can be worth in the hundreds of dollars or more.
Semi-key date pennies are those that are worth more than common wheat pennies, but not enough to be considered key dates. Those dates are: 1909 VDB, 1910-S, 1911-S, 1912-S, 1913-S, 1914-S, 1915-S, 1922-D, 1924-D, 1926-S and 1933-D. These wheat pennies can be worth anywhere from a couple of dollars to a hundred dollars, depending on condition.
Some wheat pennies are rare because of their oddities. One is the plain 1922 penny, which is an oddity because wheat pennies were only minted in Denver in 1922, so these are coins on which the D was mistakenly omitted. The 1943 copper penny is also an oddity, as pennies were made of steel that year. There are only 40 of the 1943 copper pennies in existence, so they are worth a large amount of money. Another famous odd wheat penny is the 1955 double die. On this coin, the date and lettering on the obverse of the coin are misaligned and and double over each other. There were only about 40,000 of these coins released.
Most wheat pennies fall under the category of common dates. These coins are worth anywhere from three to ten times their face value, depending on condition. Common date wheat pennies from 1910 to 1929 are typically worth more than the common date wheat pennies from the later decades.
In addition to date and mintage, condition is the one of the biggest factors in determining a coin’s value. On wheat pennies, coins that show little or no wear to the dates, wording and rim will be considered of higher value than more worn coins.
Kelly TerBest is a California native now living in Wisconsin. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and has written for local newspapers and on the web since 2000.