Finding old money can be so exciting. What makes it fun is that you can rarely know an old coin’s value just by glancing at it for the first time, unless you are a seasoned professional. If you found a penny from 1939 and want to know more about it, keep reading!
You will learn about the 1939 penny value, different mint marks you can come across, grading, errors, and much more.
1939 Wheat Penny Value Chart
|Condition||1939 No Mint Mark Penny Value||1939 D Mint Mark Penny Value||1939 S Mint Mark Penny Value|
|Poor||$0.01||$0.01 – $0.10||$0.01|
|Fair||$0.01 – $0.05||$0.10 – $0.20||$0.01 – $0.10|
|About good||$0.01 – $0.10||$0.20 – $0.50||$0.10 – $0.15|
|Good||$0.10 – $0.20||$0.50 – $1||$0.15 – $0.20|
|Fine||$0.20 – $0.25||$1 – $1.50||$0.20 – $0.30|
|Very fine||$0.25 – $0.30||$1.50 – $2||$0.30 – $0.50|
|Extremely fine||$0.30 – $1||$2 – $3||$0.50 – $1.50|
|About Uncirculated||$1 – $2||$3 – $5||$1.50 – $3|
|Mint state (60-64)||$2 – $3||$5 – $10||$3 – $5|
|Mint state (65-67)||$3 – $50||$10 – $50||$5 – $50|
|Mint state (68-70)||$50 – $100 +||$50 – $100 +||$50 – $100 +|
1939 No Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value
A penny is one of the longest-existing coins in US history. It was first minted in the late eighteenth century, right after the Mint was opened for the first time. The first pennies were made out of copper only and their composition has changed since.
A penny from 1939 contains 95% copper and 5% an alloy of tin and zinc. It weighs 3.11 grams or 0.1 ounces and it is 19 millimeters in diameter which translates to 0.7 inches.
The edge is plain which can mean that coins from 1939 can be tempered, although it is not very likely as they have minimum melting value. This is more commonly seen in old silver coins.
1939 Penny Appearance
A penny from 1939 belongs to the category of Wheat pennies, which replaced an Indian Head penny in 1909. This year marked a century after Abraham Lincoln’s birth so the US Mint wanted to honor the ex-president by putting his portrait on the obverse of a penny.
Apart from Lincoln’s portrait, the front side of the coin features the US motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, as well as the word LIBERTY, and the year in which the coin was made.
The category, Wheat penny, is named after the reverse of the penny, which features two branches of wheat on the left and the right sides of the coin. The middle of the coin is reserved for the denomination, ONE CENT, and the name of the country.
Another one of the United States mottos, ET PLURIBUS UNUM, is engraved on top of the penny.
If your penny from 1939 doesn’t contain a mint mark, it means that it was produced in Philadelphia.
This Mint didn’t use mint marks back then because it was the first one that was ever opened. There was no reason to indicate where a coin was produced because the Philadelphia Mint was the only option for a long time.
1939 Penny Price
The Philadelphia Mint made 316 466 000 pennies in 1939. This is a huge number which is why the pennies from this year are not particularly rare, even though almost a century has passed.
If your 1939 penny is in poor condition, you shouldn’t expect to get more than its face value if you decide to sell it. If it is in good to extremely fine condition, the price can go up to around a dollar. The uncirculated coins usually sell for two or three dollars.
The real worth is in the coins that are in the mint state. The pennies from 1939 graded up to 67 can reach the price of around $30 – $50 but those that are graded more than 67 can be sold for more than a hundred dollars.
Just during this year (2023), there have been seven 1939 pennies graded 67 and more that have been sold at online auctions for prices between $100 and $144. If you find one in perfect condition, consider yourself lucky!
Furthermore, there hasn’t been a penny that was graded 69 or 70 in the past several years, at least. If you somehow manage to get one of those, you can expect to sell it for at least several hundred dollars, if not a thousand or more.
1939 D Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value
A penny from 1939 with the D mint mark indicates that the coin was produced in the Denver Mint. The appearance of this coin is exactly the same as the one from Philadelphia, except for the letter D on the obverse of the penny, right below the year 1939.
The Denver Mint was established in 1862, almost a century after the US opened its first mint. In order to indicate that a coin was made elsewhere, the US Mint started using the D mint mark for the coins produced in the new mint.
There were 15 160 000 pennies made in Denver in 1939. While this is considerably less than what Philadelphia produced, it is still a big number of coins. Therefore, there are still a lot of 1939-D pennies on the market, making them relatively invaluable.
The coins in poor condition can be sold for up to approximately ten cents. Those in good condition can reach the price of a dollar, and extremely fine and uncirculated coins can be sold for several dollars each.
The 1939 pennies in mint state graded 60-65 are usually worth up to $50. Coins graded 65+ are the most valuable. Just a couple of months ago (December 2022), a 1939-D penny with a grade of 67 was sold for $660!
According to the other recent auctions, a 1939-D penny graded 66 can be sold for $30 – $140. Grade 67 is relatively common, so the pennies in this condition sell for varying amounts. Some are worth only around $60 while others can reach prices of hundreds of dollars.
The highest price that a 1939-D penny has reached was the one sold in 2009 for a whopping $11 500. A more recent record is a penny graded 68 that sold for $6900 in 2019. In the year before, a penny of the same grade was sold for $3 360.
In conclusion, if you have a penny from 1939 made in Denver, you shouldn’t expect to get rich unless the coin is in almost perfect condition. The rarity determines the value, so the rarer your penny is, the more money you can get if you decide to sell it.
Even if you don’t feel like you can make a lot of money selling it, hold onto it for several more years! The coins can increase in value as the years pass, so you have nothing to lose. Keep them somewhere safe where they can’t get damaged and hope for the best in the future.
1939 S Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value
The San Francisco Mint was opened as a branch of the main US Mint in 1854. Since then, it has been producing billions of different circulating and proof coins.
In the year 1939, this mint produced over 52 million pennies. All of them are engraved with an S mint mark on the front right side of the coin, just below the year 1939. The rest of the design is the same as the other two varieties of this beautiful penny.
Like the pennies minted in Philadelphia and Denver, the San Francisco penny can be red, red-brown, or brown, depending on how much a coin was used throughout the years. The most beautiful ones are red.
Since the San Francisco Mint produced fewer pennies than Philadelphia but more than Denver, the prices of these pennies are somewhere in between the other two.
The coins in poor condition sell for only around a cent to ten, while those in good condition can be sold for just slightly more.
Extremely fine and uncirculated coins can reach the price of several dollars, but those in the mint state have a much higher value.
Based on the auctions held in the previous decade, the pennies graded 60-66 usually sell for up to $50. The price of pennies with a grade of 67 ranges from $90 to $600 on average. However, one penny with this grade was sold for an unbelievable $3 966 in 2013.
Overall, the San Francisco pennies can be highly valuable if you have those that are almost perfect. If you found or inherited one or more of the 1939 pennies that look like they just exited the factory, you are definitely in for a treat!
However, keep in mind that the final price doesn’t depend only on the rarity of a coin, it also depends on who is looking to buy it at the given moment. Even if you have an amazing piece that was once sold for thousands, you may not find someone interested to buy it right away.
In this case, if you are sure that your coin is worth more than what someone is offering, hold onto it for several months or even years as the right buyer will probably show up eventually. It can be frustrating to wait but it will be worth it.
Similarly, if you are looking to buy a 1939 penny but the ones you can find for sale are too expensive for your budget right now, wait for a while and check the online markets and auctions often. You are likely to find the perfect coin within your budget if you are patient enough.
1939 Penny Grading
If you are looking to sell your 1939 penny, you should take it to a professional grading service first, especially if you are not experienced in grading and estimating a coin’s value. You may miss some of the important details that can raise your penny’s price by a lot.
The same is true if you are looking to buy a penny from 1939, particularly if you are doing so online. Avoid buying ungraded pennies and definitely don’t pay a lot of money for the pennies that don’t have official proof of their grade.
Rare 1939 Penny Error Lists
Having your coin professionally graded is also important because of the errors your penny might have that you may not notice just by looking at it. Some of the errors can significantly increase the value of your 1939 penny, so keep that in mind. Let’s talk about some of them.
1939 Penny Clipped Planchet
Planchet is a blank piece of metal that is engraved with a coin’s design, resulting in the finished product. During the minting process, a planchet can get clipped, leaving an interesting error behind.
This factory mistake can be easily spotted – just look for any missing parts of a penny around the edges. While you can’t expect this error to raise your coin’s value by a lot, most of the pennies with this mistake are worth at least several dollars more than the regular ones.
1939 Penny Repunched Mint Mark
A repunched mint mark error is pretty self-explanatory. It happens when the mint mark is engraved more than once, resulting in a doubled letter on the obverse of the coin.
When it comes to the year 1939, a repunched mint mark error is more common in the coins produced in Denver. It may be difficult to notice this mistake right away, so make sure to use some kind of magnifying device to spot it.
1939 Penny Die Crack
The dies are the machines used to engrave the design onto a coin. When they get damaged with time, they leave traces of that damage on the coins.
You can notice this error if you look closely at your 1939 penny and notice some raised parts or missing pieces of the design. To be completely sure, compare your coin with a picture of a regular one.
This error can be mistaken for the damage that a coin naturally endures when it has been in circulation for a long time. It is also difficult to spot if your penny is in bad condition.
1939 Penny FAQ
Are 1939 pennies rare?
No, 1939 pennies are not rare. The US Mint produced over half a billion pennies back in 1939, so it is fairly easy to find them. However, it is difficult to find 1939 pennies graded more than 67.
How much is a 1939 penny worth now?
A penny from 1939 can be worth only one cent if it is in poor condition. If it is uncirculated, it is usually worth several dollars, while those that are in the mint state can sell for thousands of dollars, according to the auctions held in previous years.