5 Rarest Pennies From United States History

Rarest Pennies in U.S. History
Credit: Roman Oleinik / Wiki Commons

Most of the coins in your pocket might not be worth more than a dollar but for coin collectors the rarest pennies are priceless.

The value of a penny depends on its rarity and quality. The United States Mint has issued many pennies in its history. Some of these have become rare and of high interest to coin collectors from all around the world.

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5. 1873 Indian Head Pennies, $10,000

Rarest Pennies From United States
(Photo: coinvalues.com)

The 1873 Indian Head Penny is one of the first versions of a United States penny produced and is 95 percent copper. These coins were heavily circulated, therefore only a few examples remain in decent condition. Coins that did survive are worth thousands of dollars.

An 1873 Indian Head Penny in perfect condition can be worth around $10,000.

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4. 1877 Indian Head Penny, $31,000

Rarest Pennies From United States
(Photo: coinvalues.com)

The 1877 Indian Head Penny is the rarest among the Indian pennies that you might still be able to find in circulation today (that’s if you’re incredibly lucky).

A pristine condition 1877 Indian Head Penny is rare, and therefore carries an insanely expensive price tag. Even if this coin is in terrible condition, it can be worth a stack of cash, but in uncirculated condition, it can be sold for as much as $31,000.

In comparison, a decent condition 1877 Indian Head Penny that has been in circulation for many decades can still be worth $900 to $1,500. In good condition (for a circulated coin) they can be worth up to $2,500.

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3. 1943 Copper Wheat Penny, $100,000

Rarest Pennies From United States
(Photo: usacoinbook.com)

The 1943 Copper Wheat Pennies were added to the supply chain by error – and because of it, these rare pennies have become one of the most idealized and sought-after coins by American numismatics.

Additionally, nearly all pennies minted in this era were struck in zinc-coated steel because copper and nickel were needed for war efforts.

According to the American Numismatic Association, there are only forty 1943 Copper Wheat pennies in existence. And unsurprisingly, due to its high value and rarity, some people try to counterfeit the coin by coating steel pennies with copper or by altering the dates of 1945, 1948, and 1949 pennies.

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2. 1944 Steel Wheat Penny, $375,000

Rarest Pennies
(Photo: usacoinbook.com)

The 1944 Steel Wheat Penny is the most expensive rare penny from the United States that ended up in circulation.

However, there were only a few 1944 Steel Wheat Pennies ever minted and like the Copper Wheat Penny, were also added to coin supply by error. Some experts believe that steel plates may have been tested and left mixed among the copper metal resulting in the production of 1944 Steel Wheat Penny.

No matter the cause, the price of these coins ranges from $77,234 to above $100,000 depending on the condition.

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1. 1974 Aluminum Penny, $2 million

The price of copper started to rise in the 1970s therefore, the United States Mint tested for alternative materials. In this test, the United States Mint produced aluminum pennies in 1974, which were sent to VIPs as a sample but were never returned.

The Mint did not produce any more aluminum pennies for some reason, making the 1974 aluminum pennies some of the rarest coins in recent U.S. history. In 2016, a California man returned one of these aluminum pennies that he inherited from his father for $2 million to the Mint.