In most cases, a penny is worth just one cent. This coin might seem worthless to you, however, for collectors this coin can carry a much bigger value than its face value. In fact, they can be worth thousands or even millions of dollars, if you are lucky enough to stumble on those rare and valuable ones.
I’m sure many of you are planning on sorting through your pocket change after reading this. Or if you have the bad habit of discarding the loose pennies from your wallet hold off! You could be making thousands of dollars worth of mistakes! However, not all round pieces of copper are super valuable. Those that are, tend to be very rare and hard to find.
Luckily for you in this article, you will learn how to spot a rare penny worth money and effort! If you are ready to earn some big buck and learn new and interesting things make sure you read on!
Short History Lesson About One-Cent Coin
The history of penny coins goes back more than 1,200 years ago. Now you all must be confused I bet, however, did you know that the first pennies were made in 790 A.D? The word “penny” was originally a name for all coins and money not just a small denomination.
You all know that Great Britain officially has a denomination that is called the penny. On the other hand, in the US a penny is just another name for a count that is officially known as a one-cent coin. The reason is that US one-cent coin was inspired by the British penny. From 1787 over 300 billion one-cent coins, with 11 different designs have been minted in the US.
A first coin authorized as an official currency was the penny from 1792 and it was authorized by George Washington. The design of this first penny coin symbolized the spirit of the nation. In fact they all send the same message from Liberty to Lincoln. In this article, we will talk about everything penny-related.
Rarest & Most Valuable Pennies Worth Moeny (Table Chart)
What Types Of Patina Exist And How Does It Affect The Price Of A Penny?
Due to the high copper content (95%), all pennies come with three different patina varieties. There are three significantly different types – BN, RB, and RD. These are the abbreviation that you will notice when searching for them on the internet.
What you need to keep in mind is that each one is more complex than the previous one and that is what significantly impacts the final price. Here is all you need to know about them:
- BN Brown – The brown patina is the most common of the three. The fact is that at first glance it looks like the most aged one. Yes, copper does go darker in color with age, you can see that if you take a quick look at the coins in your wallet. However, some specimens with this type of patina have not been circulated. Some will even have that greenish or bluish shade, which is quite normal for the metal, don’t worry.
- RB Red brown – This is a very attractive combination of Red and Brown. The basic color is brown, however, you can notice the typical reddish shade that every freshly minted copper coin has. Patina like this is a result of environmental conditions. Coins with this patina were not exposed to humidity and oxygen, or they did but in small amounts. RB pennies are very attractive among collectors since they are rare, so naturally their price is higher.
- RD Red – Red patina on copper coins means only one thing – a fresh out of the mint. What makes these coins so valuable is the rarity of this patina due to the extreme difficulty to preserve it intact. Environmental conditions will affect the color no matter if the coin is in circulation or not. That is the main reason why this is the most expensive type of patina.
Since pennies are pretty common, when looking to score a big deal always look for a special type of patina. Usually, coins with BN or RB patina are undervalued, the only exception is if the coin has some rare error.
If you want to make sure you preserve the current color of the patina in the best possible condition you must learn how to keep them. The perfect place will have a stable and controlled climate. Everyone who is serious about coin collecting will invest in certified capsules with climate control options to preserve their coins in the best condition.
How can you preserve your penny collection?
When you are collecting uncirculated RD or RB pennies and copper coins, environmental conditions are your worst enemy. Things like humidity and oxidation, over time, will cause the copper to change color into a darker shade, and become more brown in color. Luckily this isn’t a problem for those who are collecting circulated pennies that have already changed color due to circumstances.
To protect your pennies from all unwanted conditions and factors you should invest in a non-reactive coin album. This handy thing will help you to protect all your coins. All you need to do is find a place with low humidity and a moderate temperature.
It is important for you to remember that the plastic cases that you get when you buy a coin are not air-tight! So if your valuable pennies are placed in these cases make sure you transfer them into climate-controlled capsules or non-reactive coin albums. Don’t forget to periodically examine your coins just in case to ensure they maintain the color you want.
How To Identify Rare Penny Worth Money
After just a quick glance at the table in this article you have seen that some old pennies are worth hundred and tens of thousands of dollars easily. However, there are plenty of other examples that are worth less but they are still much more valuable than their face value. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when hunting for rare penny coins that are worth money:
- Search for the old pennies in the best condition – In case you see a penny that you know is decades old and it still has that almost new shine like, don’t wait and grab it. They are pretty rare and might be worth looking up. We all know that most old coins show signs of wear from circulation.
- Check for errors – No matter which type of coin you are looking for, if you come across one that features some minting error, in most cases you win the jackpot. Error coins are very unique, rare, and prized among collectors. Luckily, you’ll notice that many old pennies listed in this article have errors which significantly boost their final price.
- Learn which series have low mintage – Every year the US Mint releases a certain number of coins. In the case of the pennies in some years, that number is lower than usual. This is your queue to start looking for them. Search for low mintage years such as 1955S, 1939D, 1933D, and 1931S since they are pretty rare.
- Look for pennies with higher copper content – Since copper coins are very valuable if they preserve their red patina, make sure you start looking for old all-copper pennies. These were minted before 1982 and will have around 95% copper, the only exception is the Flying Eagle penny which has 88% copper.
While most pennies are worth only a cent, it pays to research rare coin values so you can identify the most valuable pennies when you see them. Sometimes, it may also make sense to hang onto coins you think could increase in value. US rare coin prices change all the time in reaction to market conditions, so something that may not be that valuable today can be worth a fortune tomorrow. Now that you have a handle on rare penny values, learn about buffalo nickel values.
Where Can You Sell And Buy Rare Pennies?
First of all, a great thing about collecting pennies is that a lot of them can be obtained directly from circulation, vending machines, and jukeboxes, all you need to do is carefully inspect them. However, some specimens can’t be found in a pocket change considering they are ultra-rare and out of circulation. Those coins should be tracked through auctions.
When you consider buying or selling any coin you must do that through a reliable source. Make sure you work with reliable dealers or auction houses to avoid any unpleasant situations such as scams.
The truth is that coins are very tricky to estimate, even for experienced collectors. There are so many different varieties and errors of the same coin available on the market that you can get easily confused. Like always, we recommend that your first option should be a reliable auction house or reputable coin web pages such as Heritage Auctions, PCGS, Coins For Sale, or Littleton Coin Company.
Finally, if you are selling coins you should explore places like eBay, Etsy, and LiveAuctioneers to learn how the competitors priced their coins and how popular the coin is currently. However, before you make any purchase always consult with a specialist.
What is the cost of producing pennies? Is it worthy?
Considering the low denomination and the buying power of this interesting coin, you can’t avoid asking yourself why they even produce it. Doesn’t it cost more to produce it than it has an actual value? Well, in 2022 the cost of penny production was $.0272. So it seems like the penny will stay in production for a long time.
What are the different metal compositions of pennies?
Most US coins are metal sandwiches. This means that the penny has an outside layer made of three-quarters copper and one-quarter nickel, while the middle part is made from solid copper. In most cases, pennies are made of zinc coated with copper since 1982. A zinc core is plated with copper.
However, there were also white cents, and at first glance, they don’t look at all like pennies. Great examples are the Flying Eagle one-cent coin which where in use from 1856 until 1858 and the Indian Head one-cent coins minted from 1859 until 1864.
These coins were minted from a metal composition that contained 88% copper and 12% nickel. This is the reason why these pennies have a light or white color, more like nickels and dimes.
Why should one collect pennies?
Well, the reason is obvious. Penny coins are among the cheapest ones to invest in when you are starting a collection. Also, you can easily obtain many of the different penny coins for free, right from your pocket change since they are still in circulation.
Collecting pennies can be a very interesting adventure. You can decide to collect type sets, rare and special key dates, or error coins. The possibilities are numerous and it all makes collecting and searching for them a fun and exciting thing to do.
Make Some Extra Spending Cash By Investing In Pennies
This might sound ridiculous, but you can earn a lot of money if you start collecting pennies. Check your old piggy bank you would be surprised how many old small-denomination coins are laying there. Logically, not all of them are worth more than their face value, but some can be worth a small fortune.
Finally, sometimes, demand is the main factor that drives value, so keep your coins safe and wait for the right moment. Keep in mind that US rare coin prices change all the time due to the reaction to market conditions. So if your coin isn’t valuable at this moment, wait a bit it can be worth a fortune tomorrow.
Did you know that almost every collector in the US began their collecting journey by collecting pennies? Eventually, all of them reach the point where they started investing in some very valuable coins. Nowadays, it pays off to research rare pennies considering some of them can be sold for thousands of dollars.
Hopefully, this article answered some of the questions and helped you figure out how to handle your precious coins. In case you know some information that we didn’t mention here, please do not hesitate to share your opinions and advice in the comment section below.