Are you here because you heard about the one and only rare specimen of the 1977 penny? Regardless of your answer, the story behind this highly valuable piece of history is truly fascinating for several reasons.
The coins with low denominations and high values are always attention-grabbing because it shows you that you never know whether you have a small fortune in your change. So, what is the 1977 penny value?
These coins generally are not worth much, but some specimens with certain details are worth big bucks!
1977 Penny Varieties
The 1977 penny is also known as the Lincoln Memorial penny because it features the image of Abraham Lincoln on the obverse and his memorial on the reverse.
Interestingly, the Lincoln penny is the first coin to feature a real living person, which was not the case with previous coins, which usually depicted idealized personifications of Liberty. However, this coin was also known as Lincoln Wheat Penny because it featured two stalks of wheat on the reverse.
The Lincoln Memorial penny has the same obverse but a different reverse design. The Lincoln Memorial Penny was produced from 1959 to 2008 when a special series of commemorative coins was released featuring four different reverse designs.
These designs were related to important periods of Lincoln’s life, such as his birthplace in Kentucky, formative years spent in Indiana, his professional life in Illinois, and his presidency in Washington, DC.
Although the production of Lincoln Memorial pennies was halted in 2008, these coins can still be found in circulation today.
There are two reasons; the first one is the law that prohibits the melting of nickel coins, and the second law says that taking more than 5$ worth of Lincoln Pennies and leaving the state is illegal. On the other hand, you are free to do creative things with coins.
The idea behind the new Lincoln penny design was initiated in honor of Lincoln’s 150 birth anniversary. These coins were released into circulation in February 1959.
As noted, the obverse design remained the same as in the original Lincoln Wheat penny featuring Lincoln’s bust facing right. Victor D. Brenner, the Lithuanian-born engraver and sculptor best known for the Lincoln penny design, did the design.
The obverse also features the American motto struck alongside the upper rim, “IN GOD WE TRUST,” above Lincoln’s head. The capitalized inscription “LIBERTY” is struck on the left side of the coin, next to his truncated neck.
The mintage year “1977” is placed on the right side of Lincoln’s bust.
Fun fact: The obverse design is one of the longest-lasting designs in the history of US coinage; it was first created in 1909 to commemorate hundred years since Lincoln’s birth.
The reverse design is much more detailed and packed than the obverse. The design was done by Frank Gasparro, the tenth Chief Engraver of the US Mint. In the center of the coin, we can see the Lincoln Memorial struck with great detail; notice the steps and the pillars if the coin is in good condition.
On the coin’s lower rim, we can see the capitalized denomination “ONE CENT.” Above the memorial is the American motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” which translates to “Out of one, many.”
The inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is struck on the upper rim.
The Lincoln Penny’s face value is 1 cent of $0.01. Its metal composition is 95% copper with 5% zinc and tin. The coin weighs 0.10970 ounces or 3.11 g, while its diameter is 0.74803 or 19 mm. The coin shape is round, while its thickness is 0.5984 inches or 1.52 mm.
These coins were produced in three mints: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. The total mintage of the 1977 Lincoln Memorial pennies is 8,622,243,452.
1977 No Mint Mark Lincoln Penny
The highest mintage was in Philadelphia: 4,469,930,000. These coins do not have a mint mark.
The production of these coins in Philadelphia was riddled with various issues, which are visible in the strike quality of the 1977 Lincoln Memorial pennies.
Hence many of them are in poor condition, especially if they have spent a lot of time in circulation and are worthless.
It also means you cannot find the 1977 No Mint Mark penny in MS 68. Therefore, in lower grades, they have no value ($0.02). They have some modest value in mint states, namely MS 66 and 67. The 1977 No Mint Mark penny in MS 65 is worth around $1 to $2.
In MS 66, the No Mint Mark variety is worth around $25, while in MS 67, this penny can reel in between $70 and $190. You never know how much money a coin can fetch at an auction; for example, the 1977
No Mint Mark penny in MS 67 was sold at Heritage Auction in January 2023 for $195.
On the hand, the same specimen with the same grade sold for $67 in April 2023.
1977 D Lincoln Penny
The Denver Mint had a slightly lowest mintage number compared to Philadelphia- 4,149,062,300. This variety can be distinguished by the “D” mint mark on the Obverse underneath the mintage year.
Given that most of these entered circulation, and although the strike was slightly better, it is hard to find specimens in high-mint states.
In lower grades, they are worthless, just like the No Mint Mark variety. They have some value in some mint states, starting with MS 65; the 1977 D Lincoln penny in MS 65 can be worth around $ 1$ to $ 2$. In MS 66, they can fetch up to $40.
The 1977 D Lincoln penny in MS 67 can reel up to $150. The most valuable and sought-after specimen is in the MS 68 price, and the highest amount paid for the 1977 D Lincoln penny was at Heritage Auction in 2016, and the collector paid $7,050 for the piece.
However, keep in mind that the coin was graded RD or red tone, which is the most desirable tone in Lincoln pennies. For additional information, click here Coin Value Checker!
1977 S Proof Lincoln Penny
The San Francisco Mint produced a limited number of proof coins - 3, 251,152. These coins have an “S” mint mark underneath the mintage year on the obverse.
If you are familiar with proof coins, you might know these are special specimens intended for archival purposes and testing the dies, meaning they are created with high-quality strikes. In most cases, that would translate to big bucks, but in this case, not really!
The 1977 S Proof Lincoln penny has some value in high PR states, such as PR 69 and PR 70. In PR 68, these Lincoln coins can be worth around $10.
In PR 69, the 1977 S Proof Lincoln penny is worth around $40; the most recent sale occurred in April 2023, and the specimen with the same grade but with DCAM designation was sold for $89.
The highest grade for the proof coin is PR 70, the most valuable; the 1977 S Proof Lincoln Memorial penny in PR 70 is worth between $1,300 and $1,900. The highest amount paid for the specimen in PR 70 is $7,050; the auction happened in 2013.
1977 Penny Grading
One common issue that baffles new coin collectors is how to grade a coin. Grading coins is a subjective process, and opinions can differ. The grade depends on several factors, such as the coin’s condition, mint mark, mintage year, and contact marks.
Rare 1977 Penny Errors List
During the production of the 1977 Lincoln Memorial Penny, several errors appeared. Let’s check those out!
1977 Penny-Double Die
The double die is one of the most valuable errors in the world of coins. Double die error happens when the die used to strike the coins is misaligned, or the first strike differs from the second strike in the angle used, resulting in a seemingly doubled image.
Although this error is valuable, it is very common for the 1977 Lincoln Memorial pennies, rendering it not that valuable after all. The specimens with the double die error can fetch from $100 to $500.
1977 Penny- Re-punched Mint Mark
As its name implies, this error happens when the mint mark is punched twice and the second strike is under a different angle. This usually happens when the first strike is incorrect or not clear enough.
Although these errors are valuable and mainly found on the Denver variety, they can fetch around $3 to $20.
1977 Penny - Off-center Error
The off-center error occurs when the dies are not aligned correctly, resulting in the image or design being off-center. The coins with this error can be easily recognized because the image is not nicely centered, and usually, the lower rim displays and small blank area.
The range of the missing design can be different. The collectors generally prefer ones with over 10% missing design. The prices can differ between $15 and $100, depending on the percentage of the missing design.
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