Not many people know they have some valuable coins tucked in their homes. They may be long forgotten but could be worth thousands of dollars. If you fall into this group of people, you should get these coins out and appraise them.

This detailed guide examines how valuable the 1921 Penny is. It also discusses key things to look out for when determining its value. Keep reading as we take a closer look at this old Penny.

Quick Summary: How Much Is the 1921 Penny Worth?

The price of a 1921 Penny may sit at the 10–25¢ range for the worn-out variants, while well-kept uncirculated coins may sell as high as $10,000. So, if you ever wonder how much these collectibles are worth, here’s your short answer.

We’ll go into more details about the 1921 Penny and how to determine its value in the later parts of this guide.

The 1921 Penny: What It Is and How to Identify One

The 1921 Penny What It Is and How to Identify One

If you’re holding a 1921 Penny, you shouldn’t be in a hurry to sell it off. Even if you’re a collector, you should take some time to learn more about this coin. You neither want to sell it out cheap nor do you want to get a fake coin.

So, how do you know the 1921 Penny value? First, you need to know what to look for in the 1921 Penny to know its value.

This bronze Penny was introduced in 1921, and about 39,157,000 were made. Also known as the Wheat Penny, this coin comprises 95% copper, while the remaining 5% is derived from tin and zinc.

One of the distinct features of this coin is that it’s a Philadelphia mint. Hence, they didn’t come with a mint mark.

When brought up close, you’ll notice that these coins look like today’s Penny. You may even mistake it for a recent coin if you don’t know what to look for. Still, the difference is noticeable, however minor.

On inspecting the obverse side of the coin, you’re greeted by the image of former US President Abraham Lincoln right at the center. Just to the right of his portrait, you’ll see the word “Liberty” on it. On the left-hand side of the portrait is an inscription of the minting year “1921,” while the clause “In God, We Trust” sits right above the portrait.

On the coin’s reverse are certain inscriptions — “E Pluribus Unum” at the very top, “One Cent” right in the middle, and “United States of America” just below. There’s also a representation of two wheat stalks on both the left and right sides of the coin. Hence, why it’s often referred to as the Wheat Penny.

How to Determine the Value of the 1921 Penny

Three basic steps can help you determine the value of a 1921 Wheat {enny. With these methods, you can scrutinize your Penny to know its worth:

They include:

  • Identifying its mint mark variety and date.
  • Knowing the grading condition.
  • Checking for unique qualities.

Before you begin these steps, you must closely inspect your coins. Generally, the older the coin, the more valuable it is.

Identifying the Mint Mark Variety and 1921 Issue

As we mentioned earlier, the 1921 Penny doesn’t come with a mint mark. There were a total of 55,431,000 of these coins struck. Additionally, there were only two available 1921 pennies following the discontinuation of production in Denver.

The two varieties include:

  • The 1921 Lincoln Penny
  • The 1921-S Lincoln Penny

We’ll briefly examine these two varieties to understand their differences.

1921 Lincoln Penny

1921 Lincoln Wheat Cent

The 1921 Lincoln Penny coins are from a Philadelphia mint. These coins had no mint mark under the date. They were widely popular, but you’ll find most of them looking worn out.

So, does this make the 1921 Lincoln Penny valuable?

You’ll find these coins usually between 10¢ and 25¢. That is, for coins that are in a worn condition. However, the well-preserved and uncirculated coins can go for thousands of dollars.

Recently, the finest-known 1921 Lincoln Penny sold at $36,000 in 2019. The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) graded it MS-68 Red. Surprisingly, this same coin had sold earlier in 2005 for $55,200. That said, you could be sitting on a goldmine if you own a 1921 Lincoln Wheat Penny without a mint mark in excellent condition.

1921-S Lincoln Penny

1921-S Lincoln Wheat Cent

These coins were produced at the San Francisco Mint. Unlike the Philadelphia variant, the S-variant wasn’t very common. Its rarity has also contributed to the value of the 1921 Penny.

If you have a 1921-S Penny, you can examine the reverse. You’ll see that there are fine parallel lines just inside the upper wheat stalks. If the coin you’re holding has these apparent lines, it’s a collector’s item.

If the 1921-S Penny has no marks on the surface, or its letters aren’t fading, it’s likely worth a lot. Unlike the Philadelphia Wheat Penny with no mint mark, the San Francisco variety has an “S” mint mark. You’ll see this mark just under the date on the coin.

So, how much are the 1921-S Lincoln Wheat Pennies worth?

If you have these old pennies, they’re worth around $3–$10. If the coin is in a worn condition, it can be worth $100 or more. However, the red uncirculated pennies are the most valuable — you can sell them for around $500 to $10,000.

Knowing the Grading Condition

The 1921 Lincoln Penny is one of the most valuable coins that has caught collectors’ attention. Grading is essential if you want to get the actual value of your coin. Usually, coin experts will pass the coins through a grading process. This way, they can closely inspect the Penny.

The grading will tell what condition the coin is in and help determine its value. We’ve broken down this process by explaining the different coin grades. In other words, you’ll get a clearer picture of how the coin grades work to determine value.

Uncirculated Grade

An uncirculated coin may be defined as one that has never been spent. These coins have never even passed through any hands.

Uncirculated coins are in pristine, near-perfect condition and with all their original details. The only thing that could likely affect it is possibly some fading. However, an uncirculated 1921 Penny should be in flawless condition.

How can you tell if your 1921 Wheat Penny is uncirculated?

The first step is to check for wear on the coin’s surface. If there’s any sign of contact, it’ll show in the luster.

Another thing to watch out for is Abraham Lincoln’s coat on the coin’s obverse. It’s easy to tell if a coin has been handled or worn from this.

A good way of achieving this is by holding the side of the coin to face a light source. It’s not an uncirculated coin if there’s any dulling on the surface. However, if it keeps its luster or shine, it’s uncirculated.

Here’s an uncirculated 1921 Penny going for $45.

Extremely/Extra Fine Grade

This type of coin has been in circulation but not for long. The coins were likely kept in storage for safekeeping.

One thing you’ll observe about these coins is minor flaws. They’ll probably have a scratch or some other imperfection. However, noticing the flaws is somewhat challenging because these coins look almost perfect.

The moment coins start passing hands, they’ll show signs of wear. There’ll likely be a slight loss in the design of the 1921 Wheat Penny if it’s been in circulation for some time.

For instance, you may notice that Lincoln’s coat is losing some details. A good example is if its lapel is beginning to smoothen out. While there’s a sign of wear on the coins, most designs are intact.

Fine Grade

A coin that’s in decent condition despite been circulated will have a fine grade. You’ll see scratches on it and even some smoothening. However, most details will still be noticeable, and the letters even visible.

So basically, we’re looking at a 1921 Wheat Penny with moderate wear in this category. For instance, a fine grade 1921 Penny may still have the Lincoln portrait appearing boldly, but there may be other minor imperfections. Even if a faint outline of the coat’s lapel is visible, the tie and the shirt are still outlined to an extent.

Summarily, if significant details are still quite visible and there are no noticeable marks, it’s likely a fine-grade coin.

Check out this fine grade 1921 Penny going for $22.50.

Good Grade

Now, this is a representation of most worn-out coins out there. A 1921 Penny falls in this category if it’s damaged. Expect lots of deep scratches and distracting marks on this type of coin.

It’s obvious that not only has the coin been in circulation, but it’s also been used for a long time. However, the date and letters should still be readable even though it’s damaged. The letters should still be visible even if all the images have smoothened out.

In summary, any sign of wear will reduce the value of your 1921 Penny, while a 1921 Lincoln Wheat Penny’s value increases with a higher grade.

Checking for Unique Qualities

The 1921 Wheat Penny has unique qualities. In fact, it’s these qualities that distinguish it from other Wheat Pennies.

One is its low mintage as opposed to other coins. Another unique quality that makes it valuable is its rarity.

There are only a few 1921 pennies that have survived over time. Yet, most of them are in really worn conditions. So, a fine grade is a rare find, which makes it even more valuable.

It’s expected that coins will wear out and lose details with time. Most collectors look at the quality of the coin’s surface to determine its value. In other words, if you’re holding a flawless or near-perfect 1921 Penny, it’s extremely valuable. You’ll sell it for a premium price compared to those worn-out coins.

What Is the Actual Worth of a 1921 Penny Today?

Today, a 1921 Lincoln Wheat Penny could go for as low as 25¢ to as high as $10,000 or more.

To give you a clear representation of this coin’s value based on the different grades and varieties, we’ve outlined the following table:

Good Fine Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1921 Lincoln Penny $0.50 $1.30 $9 $22
1921-S Lincoln Penny $1.50 $3.50 $35 $75

From all we’ve discussed, it’s clear that the 1921 Penny is worth it. However, its value depends on the current condition and the coin’s grade.

If you want to know what grade your 1921 Penny is, ensure you look closely at the surface. Check every detail to see if anything has been lost or faded.

The coin is valuable if the letters are partially faded but still visible. However, ensure that while examining your coins, you don’t devalue them. Remember that you only get value when the details are still visible even though worn.

The details will still be very sharp if you have a fine grade 1921 Penny. In other words, it’d be fairly easy to describe the details on the coin.


How much is my 1921-S Wheat Penny worth?

If you have a 1921 San Francisco mint, it would be worth about $1.50 in good condition. If it’s an uncirculated coin, it should be about $75. An extremely fine grade, 1921 Penny, will be valued at $35, while a fine grade will be $3.50.

The 1921-S Penny is valuable if they have no flaws or are red. These red pennies could cost a fortune.

What’s the mint mark on the 1921 Lincoln Penny?

One of the unique features of the 1921 Lincoln Penny is the absence of a mint mark. In other words, 1921 Pennies from the  Philadelphia Mint lack a mint mark. However, the San Francisco 1921-S Wheat Penny has an S under the date on the obverse side of the coin.

Which 1921 pennies are worth a lot of money?

While not many 1921 pennies are worth a lot, the Red 1921 Penny is an exception. These wheat pennies are incredibly valuable because of their copper red color. They’re especially worth a lot of money if uncirculated.

The most expensive and finest 1921 Penny was the MS-68 Red coin graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). The Philadelphia-minted coin sold for a whopping $36,000 in 2019 after selling for $55,200 in 2005.


We’ve been able to analyze the value of the 1921 Penny. Remember, these coins have two variants — the 1921 Lincoln Penny and the 1921-S Penny. These coins are quite valuable; if you have them, you’ll certainly make some money off them.

Ensure you keep your old coins in good condition to get value for them. You can make a few bucks to thousands of dollars from your 1921 Penny if they’re in decent condition. That said, you should have your coins graded and know their worth.

Also Read: Lincoln Wheat Penny Value Chart (Some Rare Ones Cost Up to $408,000)

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