A few varieties of the 1949 penny are worth 3-4 cents, while a few are worth hundreds of dollars. There’s one 1949 penny that even got sold for $12,075 in an auction!
In this post, we’ll explore what causes this difference in the 1949 penny value by studying each of its varieties in deep detail. We’ll also check out 1949 penny errors and learn how to grade a penny at home.
Let’s get started!
1949 Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||MS-61||MS-62||MS-63||MS-65||MS-66||MS-67||Proof Grade|
|1949 No Mint Mark Penny Value (Philadelphia)||–||–||$4||$6||$26||$748||$2000||–|
|1949 “D” Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.05||$0.75||$1||$1.5||$5||$17.50||–||–|
|1949 “S” Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.05||$0.60||$2.50||$3||$6.75||$17||$29||–|
1949 No Mint Mark Penny Value
The 1949 penny is more commonly known as the 1949 wheat penny because it features two sheaves of wheat on the reverse side. It’s a major design distinction from the second variant of the Lincoln cents, which features the Lincoln Memorial on the Tails side.
On the obverse side of the coin, you’ll find a right-facing detailed portrait of the 16th president of the US, i.e., Abraham Lincoln. If the coin is in extremely fine condition, the details on this portrait will be fine and crisp.
But if the coin is extremely worn out, chunks of Abraham Lincoln’s hair, coat, and face will appear to be softened and faded.
Apart from the portrait, the Heads side of the coin also features the year of minting and the mint mark. In the case of the 1949 No Mint Mark Philadelphia penny, you’ll find only 1949 printed on the lower right side of Abraham’s portrait.
The absence of a mint mark confirms that the coin was minted at the Philadelphia Mint.
Both sides of the coin were designed by Victor David Brenner. But the wheat side of the penny only lasted until 1959. After that, it was replaced by the Lincoln Memorial (designed by Frank Gasparro).
Another distinguishing aspect of the 1949 penny is its weight. It’s much lighter than its predecessors. That’s because the country was trying to cope with the loss faced in the Second World War, and the price of copper had shot up dramatically. But the overall size of the penny remained the same.
In terms of production, about 217,775,000 units of this cent were minted at the Philadelphia Mint. All of these were intended for commercial use and regular circulation. This explains why it’s super difficult to find a 1949 penny-graded MS-65 or above in the present times!
So, if you have a 1949 penny, check for its grade as given in the grading section below. If it’s a circulated variant, you can expect the following worth as per the grade:
- Fine: 6 cents
- Very fine: 11 cents
- Extremely fine: 23 cents
Although extremely fine means the coin possesses sharp lettering and traces of mint luster, it’s still only worth 23 cents. Again, that’s because of the abundance of production and regular circulation.
There’s nothing unique about an extremely fine 1949 Philadelphia penny, and hence it’s not highly valued.
If you have an uncirculated variant, you can expect to trade it for thousands of dollars (in an auction or so!). Here’s the expected worth of available uncirculated grades of the 1949 penny:
- MS-65: $26
- MS-66: $748
- MS-67: $2000
Back in 2006, a 1949 MS-67 graded No Mint Mark Philadelphia penny was sold for $12,075 at an auction. It’s still the highest-valued 1949 penny.
1949 “D” Mint Mark Penny Value
1949 D Mint Mark Penny comes from the Denver Mint. Approximately, 153,132,500 of these units were produced.
Structurally, these coins are the same as the 1949 No Mint Mark Philadelphia penny except that there’s a small D right below 1949 on the obverse side. It confirms that the penny was minted in the Denver Mint.
Similar to the Philadelphia variant, these pennies measure 19mm in diameter and possess a copper-dominant composition. About 95% of these pennies comprise copper, and the remaining is a blend of zinc and tin.
The face value of the 1949 D Mint Mark penny is one cent, but its actual worth depends on the condition. If the coin is in a good, very good, fine, or very fine condition as per the Sheldon scale, you can get about 5 cents for the penny.
Here’s the valuation you can expect for coins that are in better condition:
- Extremely Fine – MS-50: 10 cents
- MS-53: 15 cents
- MS-55: 20 cents
- MS-58: 25 – 35 cents
- MS-60: 50- 60 cents
- MS-61: 75 – 85 cents
- MS-62: $1 – $1.25
- MS-63: $1.5 – $1.75
- MS-64: $2.5 – $3.5
- MS-65: $5 – $7.5
- MS-66: $17.50
It is worth noting that the value of the 1949 D Mint Mark penny does not increase linearly with the rise of grades. It increases exponentially.
This means that the grade increase almost doubles the previous value. For example, an MS-64 graded 1949 penny is worth $2.5, while MS-65 graded 1949 penny is worth $5. We can see this trend in several instances in a 1949 penny’s valuation chart.
Also, red-brown and red 1949 pennies are more valuable as compared to brown pennies. An MS-66 red brown 1949 D Mint Mark penny is valued at $22, while a red one is valued at $110. Red & red-brown pennies are also quite very rare.
With that said, there’s one 1949 Red D Mint Mark penny that got sold for $5760 in 2019.
1949 “S” Mint Mark Penny Value
The last variant of the 1949 penny is the S Mint Mark variant. Its structure and composition are exactly the same 1949 Philadelphia penny, except there’s a small S right below the year on the obverse side.
In terms of quantity, the S Mint Mark pennies constitute the smallest share of the four million pennies produced in 1949. Only about 64,290,000 of these coins were minted at the San Francisco Mint.
From a numismatic’s point of view, this is worth noting because it means there is a lower amount of S Mint Mark 1949 pennies floating around. This, in turn, makes them more valuable for coin collectors.
But generally, the low count is not alarming or indicative of a special occurrence. The San Francisco Mint usually had a lower mintage than Philadelphia Mint or Denver Mint.
Despite the low count, the best you can get for a fresh and crisp S Mint Mark 1949 penny is about $1650. This is true only if you have a red MS-67 graded 1949 penny.
A red-brown MS-67 graded penny is worth $45, while a brown 1949 penny for the same grade is worth $29. This is significantly low compared to other pennies of the previous decade and the next.
The reason behind such a low valuation is that most 1949 S Mint Mark pennies found to date are graded MS-66. And they are mostly brown.
A red variant or an MS-65+ variant in red is indeed a rarity, hence, valued more. This explains why a passionate numismatist bought an MS-67 graded 1949 S Mint Mark penny for $3525 in 2015. The selling party was Legend Rare Coin Auctions.
1949 Penny Grading
If you have a 1949 penny and you’re not sure about its grade, we recommend watching this comprehensive visual guide on how to grade circulated coins. Once you understand the difference between different grades, grab a magnifying glass and examine your 1949 penny under bright light.
Rare 1949 Penny Error Lists
When there’s a fault in manufacturing, the produced coins usually have an error. These are known as mint errors or coin errors. They make a coin more valuable for a numismatist because only a few in a million coins possess these.
The following are some of the rarest 1949 penny errors:
1949 Penny Doubled Die Error
A double die error is one of the rarest coin errors of all time. But to understand the double die error and its significance, let’s first understand the error in complete detail.
A die is basically a small metal block with an engraved image of the design that will appear on the coin. When the die is struck with a press, it imprints the design onto a blank metal disc, which becomes a coin.
Given this, if a die already has duplicate designs on its surface and it strikes the blank metal disc, the produced coin will have a double die error.
The coin design will be slightly offset, and it would appear as though there are two images on the coin. Some parts of its design will appear thicker, indicating the doubling effect.
Some 1949 pennies had this error. About four of these have been identified to date, and each of these is worth a few hundred dollars (ranging from $100 – $950).
Note that a double die error is not the same as a double struck error. A double-struck coin has a faint or blurry image, while a double-die error only gives a doubling or tripling effect.
1949 Penny Repunched Mark Error
A repunched error occurs when a design is punched onto a die more than once. It also causes a doubling effect similar to a double die error.
But the difference here is in the location and severity of the error. Usually, the doubling caused by a repunched mark appears at one specific area of the coin’s design. It is also less pronounced.
On the contrary, a double die error will have doubling visible throughout the entire design of the coin. And it’s often more pronounced.
Moreover, doubling caused by a double die error will be in the same location on every coin struck from the same die. But repunched errors will vary in location and severity.
Back in 1949, several pennies got repunched. Some of these have been sold in auctions at $82, while others have been sold at as high as $949. It’s worth noting that most of the repunched 1949 pennies auctioned to date have a high grading, ranging from MS-64 RD to MS-65.
1949 Penny Double-struck Mint Mark Error
A double-struck coin error occurs when a coin is struck twice by the same die, resulting in a coin with a faint or overlapping image. It also causes a strong doubling effect.
It is different from repunched errors or a double-die error in that the doubling is not a result of a mistake in the die’s design. Instead, doubling is a result of the die striking the coin twice.
Amongst all of the 1949 penny errors, the double-struck error is not as valuable as others. 1949 pennies with this error have been auctioned at $63 or so.
1949 Penny FAQs
How much is a 1949 penny worth?
A circulated 1949 penny in average condition is worth 6 cents. Similarly, an uncirculated 1949 in average condition may be worth $1.16 – $3.38. Some rare varieties are worth $2000 as well.
Is there a proof grade 1949 penny?
Nope! Due to the rising price of copper and the ongoing economic crisis, the government did not produce proof-grade coins in 1949. Instead, a special mint set (SMS) was produced for coin collectors. It had a total of 15 – 16 coins, including examples of 1949 pennies produced at all three Mints.
Where is a 1949 penny mint mark?
The mint mark of a 1949 penny is situated on the lower right of the obverse side of the coin. It’s a tiny S or a D below the year 1949 and in front of Abraham Lincoln’s chest.
Is a 1949 D penny rare?
Not really! A 1949 D penny ranks Abundant on the rarity scale. So, the best you can get for a brown MS-67 graded 1949 penny is $17 or $18. But if you’ve got a red variant of the same grade, it’s relatively rare and may value in hundreds or thousands.