PARRIS ISLAND COINS » 1942 Wheat Penny Value: How Much is it Worth Today?

1942 Wheat Penny Value: How Much is it Worth Today?

1942 wheat penny value

Are you wondering about the 1942 wheat penny value? You are not alone because the coin is a popular one, and while it is old, many people do not know its true worth. The Lincoln wheat penny is famous and well-loved because of the face of the 16th president on the obverse.

But to determine the worth of the coin, you must go beyond the face value and check other factors. These include the mint mark such as what a coin bears, the mintage, which is the number of coins for that particular year, and the coin’s grade at the time of sale or purchase.

With these and a few other factors in mind, you can determine the coin’s actual worth or what you can get for it on the open market. This article is an in-depth look at the 1942 wheat penny using the aforementioned factors.

1942 Wheat Penny Value Chart

Mint Mark Good  Fine  Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1942 No Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value $0.02 $0.06 $0.16 $1.26
1942 ‘D’ Wheat Penny Value $0.02 $0.06 $0.16 $1.40
1942 ‘S’ Wheat Penny Value $0.03 $0.14 $0.40 $4.08

As was common with many coins from many years ago, the 1942 wheat penny was struck in three mints. Each mint branch is represented by a mint mark, which is what you see in the chart. No mint mark coins mean they were struck in the Philadelphia mint.

The D mint mark means the coins were struck in the Denver mint, while the S mint mark means the coins were struck in the San Francisco mint. A total of 864,579,590 wheat pennies were struck in all the mints in 1942, which is a considerably high number for a particular series.

This penny was not the first in the series of wheat pennies; the Lincoln cent, as many call it, was already in circulation as of 1909. It came about as a result of then-President Roosevelt’s desire to see better artistry in the coinage, which led to the redesign of the one-cent coin and other gold coins.

The President did not see why a foreign artist could not be hired for the job since the available ones in the country were not doing a fine job. So, Augustus Saint-Gaudens was hired for the job, but he became sick and died before he could accomplish the task. However, he managed to finish the design of the four gold coins before that.

At this point, the president commissioned the coins and they went into circulation. Then, he turned his attention to the cent and what design it would bear. By then, it was close to the hundredth year of the birth of the assassinated president Abraham Lincoln and the people were calling for a commemorative coin.

Roosevelt did not see why he should not honor the beloved president and fellow Republican with the coin. So, he decided to use Lincln’s image as the design on the coin’s obverse. However, he chose a completely new artist, Victor David Brenner, for the design job. The final work pleased the president, and the coin was finally unveiled in July 1909.

Coin Grade

While the history of any coin is crucial to its worth or value, it pales in comparison to the grade or condition of the coin. The condition of any coin, including the 1942 wheat penny, is what the looks like when you want to buy or sell it.

Some coins look almost pristine and in excellent condition; we call it an uncirculated condition. Such coins are the most valuable, especially if they have a mint mark or rare error. Some 1942 wheat pennies in this condition can fetch thousands of dollars.

A slightly lower condition is the extremely fine condition, which some call About Uncirculated. In this condition, the coin looks good but nothing compared to the previous condition. As a result, it can only be worth less than an uncirculated coin, although the actual worth may depend on the buyer.

Lower down the coin condition ladder is the fine condition, which is when a coin has lost most of its shine and details. You can still make out the details, but those in sharp relief will no longer be visible. It is even less detailed for a coin in good condition, which is the lowest on the ladder.

1942 No Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value

1942 No Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value
Image Credit: USA Coin Book

1942 no mint mark wheat pennies were struck in the Philadelphia mint. Amateurs usually assume that coins from that main mint should have the P mint mark since coins from other mints bear a mint mark that corresponds to the first letter of their names.

But that is not the case for Philly coins, at least the old coins. If you have a collection of old coins without any mint marks, they were likely struck in the Philadelphia mint. But apart from this distinguishing factor, all coins in the same series look alike unless there are rare errors or markers.

Philadelphia struck 657,796,000 wheat pennies in 1942, which is the highest mintage of all three mints. As a result, the no-mint mark coin is low on the rarity scale since the mintage means there is an abundance of this specific penny in circulation.

The obverse of the coin carries the profile of President Lincoln as a bust. His face is to the right of the coin and it is a large image that covers most of the head’s side of the coin. The mint year is in front of the image, just below the image’s bow tie.

Behind the neck, to the left, is the legend LIBERTY, and round the top of the president’s head is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The lettering is flush against the rim of the coin.

Boldly displayed on the coin’s reverse is the denomination ONE CENT, and the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA struck in smaller lettering under it. The words are bracketed by two wheat stalks, from which the penny gets its name. E PLURIBUS UNUM appears at the top of the reverse, next to the rim.

The design on the obverse and reverse are simple, so striking them was not difficult for the mint. That is why you will find many of the coins have details in sharp relief, especially those in mint state or uncirculated conditions.

Proof Pennies

Proof Pennies
Image Credit: PCGS

A few Proof coins were struck in 1942 in Philadelphia, about 21,120 of them. Proof coins are special coins that have a higher grade and condition than regular coins. They are struck with clean and burnished dies on special planchets that have a higher luster than other planchets.

The result is that such coins have extremely high clarity, with almost mirror-like faces. The details are almost life-like, and they make Proof coins more valuable than even the best-uncirculated coin in most cases. In PR 65 condition, such a coin can fetch about $145.

1942 ‘D’ Wheat Penny Value

1942 ‘D’ Wheat Penny Value

Next to the Philadelphia coins in mintage are the Denver coins. 206,698,000 pennies were minted in Denver, a good number for one coin in a particular year. But while it is a high number and may appear abundant on the rarity scale, the mint mark increases its value a little above its face value.

You will find the coin’s mint mark on the obverse, just below the mint date. Due to the lack of too many details on the coin, finding the mint mark is pretty easy. Besides, it is bold enough to be seen without too much stress.

In uncirculated conditions, a 1942-D wheat penny is about $1.40. This is a low amount, but that is not always the case. If the coin has any rare errors or unique markers, the value typically increases. Also, a collector may need a 1942 wheat penny with this mint mark and places a high value on it, which significantly increases its price.

Apart from the mint mark, the coin looks exactly the same as a regular strike 1942 wheat penny. This excludes any specific error you may find on our coins if you have a collection.

1942 ‘S’ Wheat Penny Value

1942 ‘S’ Wheat Penny Value

San Francisco has the lowest mintage of the 1942 wheat pennies, striking 85,590,000 pennies that year. Because of the relatively low mintage, the 1942-S coins are in higher demand than the rest of the coins. The value chart above shows that the price is slightly higher on the open market.

As with the Denver coins, you will find the mint mark of the S coin on the obverse, under the mint date. The rest of the coin’s details remain the same across all the types. In other words, only the mint marks differentiate the coins from the three mints.

1942 Wheat Penny Grading

This is another aspect of the coin that determines its true value. No grader or avid collector will place a value on your 1942 wheat penny without grading it. To grade an old coin, you must use the Sheldon scale, which places a coin’s grade between 1 and 70.

The lowest grade is 1, and such a coin may only be worth its face value. The highest grade is 70, and a coin in this grade is priceless, although it is difficult to find. So, while you can know the condition of a coin simply by looking at it, you cannot determine its grade that way.

A coin’s grade is what separates it from another with the same condition. That is why only a professional grader is in the best position to do this job. Here is a video showing the grade and condition of different Lincoln wheat pennies.

Rare 1942 Wheat Penny Error List

A few errors occur in some 1942 wheat pennies, and we explain them below.

1942 Wheat Penny Clipped Planchet Error

1942 Wheat Penny Clipped Planchet Error
Image Credit: eBay

This error refers to a coin with an incomplete planchet. It occurs when a planchet strip does not move forward enough during production after blanks have been punched out. This results in the blanking die overlapping the punched-out holes that came before that.

Coins produced this way have curved areas of missing metal. If you have such a coin, it can fetch you hundreds of dollars if you can find a good buyer.

1942 Wheat Penny Lamination Error

1942 Wheat Penny Lamination Error

A coin lamination error refers to a metal fragment getting peeled off of the coin’s surface. The primary reason this error occurs is if debris or another foreign object finds its way onto the metal strip used for planchets and sticks to it.

The object changes the result of the design struck on the blank planchet. While it is a rare error, it can significantly change the penny’s value to a higher point, especially if the coin has a mint mark.

1942 Wheat Penny FAQs

Is a 1942 wheat penny valuable?

The value of a 1942 wheat penny depends on factors such as rare errors, mint marks, and coin grade. Because it is abundant in circulation, you can easily find it, which significantly reduces its value. Many of them are valued at slightly above their one-cent face value.

However, a few thousand Proof pennies were struck in 1942, and such coins are more valuable than their regular strike counterparts. You may get about $140 for a top-graded Proof coin, more if it is graded red (RD). A 1942-S RD 68 wheat penny once sold for over $12,000.

How much is a 1942 no-mint mark wheat penny worth?

A 1942 no-mint mark wheat penny is usually worth between $0.02 and $1, depending on the coin’s condition and grade. But Proof coins were struck in Philadelphia, which means all the Proof coins have no mint marks. This significantly increases the value of some no-mint mark coins if you can find a Proof coin.

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