As an avid coin collector, I love showing off my collection. Surprising? Probably not.
One of my favorite parts about my collection is the pennies. Most non-collectors think of pennies as fairly useless and invaluable, despite how old they are. You can kind of see the logic. They’re obviously very light, and very small. But invaluable? Oh boy, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I love seeing reactions when I tell someone the value of a certain penny. “You mean to tell me THAT little penny is worth THAT much?” It’s really a funny thing to see.
Of course, even some of the older pennies aren’t worth much. But that doesn’t make them any less interesting.
Check out some of my favorite pennies still in circulation.
1943 Steel Wheat Pennies
It’s not all that uncommon to stumble across one of these in your pocket, and immediately think of putting it up on eBay. It’s probably not worth it, as they’re only worth around 10 to 50 cents a pop. What’s really interesting is the history. During World War II there was a great need for copper, so the coins were produced with steel instead. Buy them here.
1944 Steel Wheat Pennies
If you find a 1944 steel wheat penny, that’s an entirely different ballgame. If you find one of these error coins, it could be worth anywhere from $75,000 to over $100,000 – that is, based on condition. Be very careful if you’re thinking you’ve stumbled on one of these, because of course there are many fakes. In fact, there are only about 12 known to exist today.
Indian Head Pennies
Designed by James Barton Longacre, this coin doesn’t have an Indian on it – it’s Liberty wearing an Indian headdress. This coin is a must-have for three reasons. It’s super cool looking, it’s inexpensive, and was made during an interesting time period. The Civil War and Spanish-American War happened while this coin was being produced. It’s somewhat unlikely, but still possible you could even find one of these in your pocket change. Buy them here.
Chances are almost every penny you’ve ever seen had Abraham Lincoln on the front. In 2009, the U.S. mint produced four different pennies – each with Lincoln on the front, and an image displaying a different part of his life on the back. One shows where he was born (Kentucky), one shows where he grew up (Indiana), another shows a large chunk of his professional life (Illinois), and the last shows his presidential period (Washington, D.C.).
Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on Google+.