Collecting U.S. Mint Lincoln Cent Errors

Updated on September 9, 2019
dougwest1 profile image

Doug West is a retired aerospace engineer, small business owner, and an experienced non-fiction writer.

Error Lincoln Cents
Error Lincoln Cents | Source

Introduction

No one is perfect, not even the United States Mint. Errors do occur and that is what this article is all about. The Lincoln cent has been around for over a hundred years and many billions of the them have been minted. Let’s take a look at the small percentage that make it out of the mint that aren’t quite right. We will cover common errors, such as clipped planchets, defective dies, off-center strikes, and broadstrikes.

A Short History of the Lincoln Cent

Origin. 1909 marked the 100th birthday of President Lincoln. To celebrate this occasion the U.S. Mint issued a new penny to commemorate the life of this great American. The old Indian Head cent was replaced with this new design. President Teddy Roosevelt became acquainted in 1908 with Victor D. Brenner when Brenner was commissioned to prepare Roosevelt’s portrait for the Panama Canal Service Medal. Brenner had recently completed a plaque featuring a bust of President Lincoln and had discussed the work with Roosevelt. From that chance encounter the face of the U.S. cent would be changed for at least the next 100 plus years. Brenner’s design was adopted and front of the new cent featured a portrait of Abraham Lincoln with the motto “In God We Trust” on the obverse (front). The reverse (back) of the coin had the denomination and text surrounded by two ears of wheat. Thus, the coin became known as the “Wheat Cent” by collectors. The Lincoln cent was the first cent to have the “In God We Trust” motto. The designer’s initials (V.D.B) appeared on the reverse of a limited number of the 1909 cents. The newspapers railed against the designers initials being in a prominent position on the coin and the Mint gave into the negative publicity. The 1909-S (from the San Francisco mint) became the great rarity of the series with only 494,000 minted. In 1918 the designer’s initials made it back on the coin in very small print below Lincoln’s shoulder.

The Steel Cent. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December of 1941 thrust America into World War II. The war required the manufacture of large amounts of military equipment and ammunition. As a result of this surge in demand the copper used in cent production was diverted to military uses and the composition of the Lincoln Cent was changed from 95% copper to a composition of zinc over steel. These steel cents were produced in large quantities by the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints. After the steel cent was introduced to the public complaints began to pour in to the Treasury Department. The public thought they were ugly, they were confused with dimes, and they didn't work in certain coin operated vending machines. The steel cent was only produced in 1943 and the copper alloy cent returned in 1944.

Be aware of 1943 steel cents that have been plated with a copper coating. Unscrupulous people will try to pass off these plated coins as the 1943 ultra rare error where the cent was struck on a bronze plancet my mistake. To determine if your 1943 copper cent is made of steel or bronze, use a magnet. If the coin sticks to the magnet, you have a copper plated 1943 steel cent. If the magnet doesn't stick to the coin, take it to a coin dealer for advice. Realize that there were less than forty of the error bronze 1943 cents struck.

Clipped Planchet Error

Clipped Planchet

This is probably the most noticeable type of error coin. Part of the coin has been clipped off. Normally, 10 to 25 percent of the metal has been accidentally removed in the minting process. Clipped planchets result from accidents when the steel rods used to punch out blanks from the metal strips overlap a portion of the strip already punched out. Depending on the geometry of the double punch of the blanks used to make the pennies the clipped portion of the coin can be curved, straight, elliptical, jagged, or some combination. Coins with this type of error are relatively common and usually sell for a few dollars each. Multiple clips sell for a few dollars more.

Blank Planchet Error

Blank Planchet

Before a coin gets struck with the two dies, it is just a blank disc of metal. Sometimes these blank discs, called planchets, make it out of the mint without being struck. These coin blanks come in two types, one with the rim already in place and the other type without. The rim of the coin is produced by a process that comes before the actual striking of the coin. These types of coins aren’t normally very expensive. They can be picked up for a few dollars each. You will also see these types of errors called “cuds”, especially when the extra metal is on the rim.

Defective Die Error

Source

Defective Die

The coin dies take a beating during the minting process and sometimes they break. The individual running the minting press may not notice that one of the dies has become defective. A broken or defective die can produce some very odd and curious looking coins, such as a coin showing raised metal from a large die crack or small rim break. The value of this type of error strongly depends on how noticeable it is to the naked eye. Coins with small die cracks, polishing, or very minor die damage are of minimal to no value over face value. When coins exhibit very noticeable effects from the broken die then the price goes up. Price on this type of error can range from a few dollars up to $20.00.

Off-Center Strikes

Source

Off-Center Strike

When the blank coin or planchet is improperly centered between the two dies then only part of the coin will be struck. The coin image will imprinted on part of the coin and the rest of the planchet will remain blank. Coins with only a slight shift in the design carry little or no premium over face value. When the design is more than 20 percent off-center, and the date and mint mark are still visible, then the error coin becomes more valuable. This is one of the more common error types and they usually sell for less than $20.00.

Broadstrike Error

Source

Broadstrike

A broadstruck error occurs when a coin is struck without the collar present. The collar is responsible for forming the coin rim that defines its shape. Broadstruck coins aren't perfectly round like most coins, don't have a well-defined rim, and are larger in diameter. Since the collar is absent in broadstruck coins, the blank may not be correctly positioned and the resulting coin may be off-center also. These types of mistakes are less common and sell for $10.00 or more. More dramatic errors on an old, high grade Lincoln carry a premium.

Questions & Answers

  • I have a 1977 penny with a double chin. Is this of any value?

    The 1977 double chin is not a standard double die coin. It is probably due to hub doubling and of little value.

  • Does the 1982 penny have an error?

    Yes, there is the 1982-D Small Date coin made with a copper planchet. Extremely rare, only a few are known. Normally the Small Date coin is made of zinc with a copper coating.

  • I have a 2001 d Lincoln cent that is magnetic and looks like a metallic gold color. What information could you share about that?

    My guess is that the coin is probably not real. You might take it to a local coin dealer or a coin show to have someone knowledgeable look at the coin.

  • I have a lot of different wheat pennies are they worth any thing?

    For common date wheat cents most dealers pay two cents each and sell them for three to four cents each. Rare dates sell for a lot more.

  • Any information on a 1972 double die coin with a floating D?

    I am aware of the 1972 double dime cent, however, I have not heard of the floating D.

Comments

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    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      4 days ago from Missouri

      You can send your 1928-D pennies off to be professionally graded which will cost anywhere from $10 to $25 per coin. I would recommend you buy the book "The Official Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins." The book is less than $20 and is available at coin shops, books stores, or on-line. This book will give you an idea on the grade of your coins. With this information you can determine an approximate value.

    • profile image

      Marie Gonzalez 

      4 days ago

      I've got about 40 of the 1928 D pennies, amongst numerous other coins I'd like to have looked at. Can someone recommend a place to send them to to have them looked at and graded?

    • profile image

      Omar 

      3 weeks ago

      I have alot of old pennies are they worth money and different coins

    • profile image

      John Wilkinson 

      4 weeks ago

      Doug keep up the good work this is great reading.

    • profile image

      Tony Watts 

      5 weeks ago

      I had asked about the 1957 wheat penny struck on a dime planchet, i had it authenticated by American Numismatic Association back in 1992, i just wasn't sure if it is a common error, but I've never seen anything like it, i wasnt sure what the value could be, so I've never let it go, I didn't want to get taken advantage of with thos rare coin.

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      5 weeks ago from Missouri

      Robert:

      There is a 1969-S error cent with doubled LIBERTY and IN GOD that has some value. Take your coin to a coin shop and have the dealer look at your coin.

    • profile image

      Robert 

      6 weeks ago

      I have a 1969 s penny with errors on the back is it worth

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      6 weeks ago from Missouri

      Matt:

      The simplest way to sell your coins is to go to a local coin shop or find out where a coin show will be held in your area. Talk with the dealers and see if you have any coins of value. If this isn't possible for you, you might set up and eBay account and sell them directly. Be aware, prices listed in coin price guides are full retail prices and you will only get a fraction of those prices from a dealer. They have to mark up the price of the coin to make their money.

    • profile image

      Matt 

      6 weeks ago

      I

      Have a lot of old pennys Ive been looking up. What is the best way to go about getting them sold?

    • profile image

      brucekohler232@gmail.com 

      6 weeks ago

      I have a Lincoln cent. It has the Memorial, OVER the bust on the obverse. 90° off. So, standing on end.. running from the bottom to the top. Memorial is not sunken in coin (as would result from squeezing two coins in a vice). It is raised above the bust! Also have a 64' over 3 cent. Will send a pic of each... Soon as I can figure out HOW.

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      7 weeks ago from Missouri

      The 1952 Wheat cents have the mint mark on the front of the coin. If it has a mint mark (D or S) it will on the front of the coin below the date.

    • profile image

      Erma 

      7 weeks ago

      I have a 1969's penny pretty good condition I also have a 1952 Wheat Penny on the back it says United States the S is missing

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      8 weeks ago from Missouri

      Michael:

      The 1967 Lincoln cent should weight 3.11 grams if it has very little circulation. Coins with heavy wear will weight a little less.

    • profile image

      Michael Miller 

      2 months ago

      I have a 1967 Lincoln penny that wheighs 2.50 grams ..is this the correct weight?

    • profile image

      fedelis vince ian 

      2 months ago

      i have a1964d lincoln penny that is double strike

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 

      2 months ago from South Florida

      Really interesting article with some beautiful photos clearly showing examples of the various types of mint mistakes. You've made me want to go look through my change!

    • profile image

      Terrace 

      3 months ago

      I have a1939 penny and a 1942 penny and 1949 wheat penny

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      3 months ago from Missouri

      Anna:

      The 1982-D copper pennies (3.1 grams) are all of the large date variety. The 1982-P has both a small and a large date varieties.

    • profile image

      Anna price 

      3 months ago

      I now have collected 7 copper pennies that are a 1982d all weighing 3.1 grams .Im just not sure about small and large dates. They don’t all look the same.Some of them have doubling on them so it’s really hard to tell.

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      3 months ago from Missouri

      Kalyan:

      It is hard to tell exactly what you have without seeing the coins. I suggest you take them to a local coin shop and see what the dealer has to say. Don't expect much, if anything, there are many many small errors on Lincoln cents that have no value.

    • profile image

      Kalyan Sharma 

      3 months ago

      Sir I have a copper Lincoln coins of 1959 D weighing 2.6 GM's and 1965 coin with arrow pointing on Lincoln head from behind( very peculiar ) and seems as if some screw was left there by mistake and punched while minting.

    • profile image

      Kenny 

      7 months ago

      I found a penny that has no date can you tell me

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      8 months ago from Missouri

      It is hard to accurately determine the value of error coins since there is an infinite number of varieties. My only recommendation is to check on eBay and see if your type of error is of value.

    • profile image

      h.d. taylor 

      8 months ago

      have a 2017s penny with a bur on lincolns shoulder about the size of a head on a straight pin still in the container sent by the mint and graded by ngc don't know how far yto go on the surch or would it even be worth the trouble or expense lot of confuseion

    • profile image

      Sonny 

      9 months ago

      Found these coins need help with the errors if there are any 1956 1981 1983 1985 2004 Penny's

    • profile image

      Jeremy 

      9 months ago

      Found this 1950 wheat back seems like an error but i cant find anything quite like it.

    • profile image

      Jeremiah 

      13 months ago

      Production processes in the United States Mint make it virtually impossible for a two-headed (or two-tailed) coin to be manufactured by the mint. The coining presses that are used to produce United States coins have two different shaped receptacles for the coin dies. When coin dies are manufactured, the shank of the coin die for the obverse is a different shape than the shank of the coin die for the reverse. This manufacturing process design makes it virtually impossible for a coin press operator to load two obverse (or two reverse) dies into the coin press.

    • profile image

      Perpetua santos 

      16 months ago

      I fond 1908 lincoln penny error end front end back I need relper

    • profile image

      Margaret Gray 

      16 months ago

      Mr. Doug West, Thank You so very much !

      I am just learning!

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      19 months ago from Missouri

      David:

      The 1909-S with lamination issues would be rare. Not seen one.

    • profile image

      David Wilson 

      19 months ago

      Forgot to add,Great Article Mr.West!!

    • profile image

      David Wilson 

      19 months ago

      Have been collecting error wheat for years.My best one is a 1909s with laminations,obverse and reverse.

    • profile image

      dangranite 

      2 years ago

      How do I show a picture?

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      2 years ago from Missouri

      Martin:

      I am not sure about the 2010 date, however, I do know that the number of error coins the mint produces each year seems to be fewer than in the past. I haven't seen any exact statistics, just an observation.

    • profile image

      Martin from sweden 

      2 years ago

      Hi Doug! Interesting info! I have heard that these last years 2010 and forward due to better striking methods very few cent errors escape from the US mints, is that true?

      Best regards,

      Martin wettmark Sweden

    • dougwest1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Doug West 

      3 years ago from Missouri

      Thanks. Error Lincolns are an interesting series to collect. They are nearly all unique and aren't that expensive.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great overview on this collectible.

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