1953 Wheat Penny Value: How Much Is It Worth Today?
Do you own a 1953 wheat penny and would like to know its value? Many old coins can be worth a lot more than their face value, but how do you separate the valuable 1953 wheat pennies from those that are not?
In this article, we cover the value range of 1953 wheat pennies including the auction records for the pennies from this year. You will also find a brief introduction to the grading system used to value old coins and a list of errors to look for that may increase the value of 1953 wheat pennies.
1953 Wheat Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||MS63/ PR63||MS65/ PR65||MS67/ PR67|
|1953 No Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value||$1.16||$30||$2,850|
|1953 D Wheat Penny Value||$1.16||$22||$600|
|1953 S Wheat Penny Value||$2.33||$22||$240|
|1953 Proof Wheat Penny Value||$30 – $625||$50 – $625||$120 – $3,850|
1953 No Mint Mark Wheat Penny Value
There were over a quarter of a billion 1953 wheat pennies struck in Philadelphia. You can tell they were struck at Philadelphia Mint because they do not have a mint mark. You will find where to look for the mint mark when there is one in the coin description below.
Because there were so many 1953 no-mint mark wheat pennies struck, they are not considered rare and in a circulated condition are not worth more than their face value. Unless you are looking to sell them for scrap metal. Since the coins contain 95% of copper, each coin has a melt value of just over $0.02 at the moment.
However, coins in uncirculated conditions are quite rare and much harder to find than, for example, any other pennies minted between 1930 and 1958. This is because many of the 1953 pennies from Philadelphia were poorly struck so there are not many fine examples available.
At MS65, 1953 wheat penny value is in the region of $30. For MS66-graded coins, the value jumps to around $115. For even finer specimens graded at MS67, the value starts from around $2,850. The auction record is from 2014 when an MS67-graded 1953 no-mint mark wheat penny sold for $14,100.
The Obverse of the 1953 Wheat Penny
The obverse of the 1953 wheat penny features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, which is the same as it was when the coins were first introduced in 1909 and still is today. The design by Victor David Brenner has the portrait facing right with the designer’s initials at the cut-off of the president’s bust.
Above the portrait is the phrase ”IN GOD WE TRUST” and to his left is the word ”LIBERTY”. The date is to the right of the president’s portrait and the mint mark is below the date. For Denver-minted coins, look for the letter D, and for San Francisco the letter S. There is no mint mark for coins minted in Philadelphia.
The Reverse of the 1953 Wheat Penny
The design on the reverse of the coin is what gives the wheat penny its nickname. Brenner’s design on the back shows two durum wheat ears that curve in parallel with the coin’s edges. He had first suggested a tree branch, but it was rejected because of its similarity to French coins.
On the top of the coin are the Latin words ”E PLURIBUS UNUM” which curve along the top edge. This motto of the United States means ”From the many, one”. Between the two ears of wheat is the denomination ”ONE CENT” and below that the words ”UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”.
Other Details of the 1953 Wheat Penny
The wheat penny from 1953 has a plain edge, weighs 3.11 g, and has a diameter of 19 mm. The coin’s composition is 95% copper and 5% nickel and zinc. This is a significant factor in defining the coin’s value.
Because the coins contain a large amount of copper, their color changes over time from red to brown. Coins that still retain their red color, are graded with letters RD and are more valuable than coins graded BN from brown or RB for red-brown.
1953 D Wheat Penny Value
The Denver Mint struck over 700 million wheat pennies in 1953. To identify these coins look for the letter D below the date on the obverse of the coin. Circulated 1953 wheat pennies are rarely worth more than their face or melt value.
MS63-graded pennies are usually valued slightly higher than $1. However, similar to the no-mint mark coins, the prices climb higher for pennies with higher grading. An MS65 graded 1953 D wheat penny is worth around $22 and MS65 about $600. The auction record is $7,475 and was achieved in a Bowers & Merena sale in 2007.
History of 1953 Wheat Penny
The wheat penny from 1953 belongs to the group of pennies that have Lincoln’s portrait on the obverse. When the Lincoln pennies were first released in 1909, it was the first time a real person’s image had been used on an American coin. Before that, only symbolic figures had been used on coins.
The reason for the new design of the penny was the 100th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. A new penny bearing his likeness on the front and the two sheaves of wheat on the back were released to commemorate the great president’s birthday. The final wheat pennies were struck in 1958.
The pennies released after 1958 still have the portrait of Lincoln on the obverse, but the back was changed. This time, to commemorate the 150th birthday of Lincoln. The new reverse design featured the Lincoln memorial with a statue of Lincoln inside the building.
The next time the design was changed was in 2009 when it was redesigned and the US Mint released not just one, but four new reverse designs. The new coins released in 2009 feature four key moments in Lincoln’s life.
1953 S Wheat Penny Value
In 1953, wheat pennies were struck by the San Francisco mint as well as Philadelphia and Denver. These coins will have a small letter S under the date on the obverse of the coin. However, there were far fewer pennies minted in San Francisco, only just under 182 million, than in the other two locations.
Despite fewer 1953 S wheat pennies being released into circulation, they are still not considered rare. Their values are very similar to those of D-minted pennies from 1953 at lower MS grades. However, the MS67 S penny from 1953 is only valued at $240 instead of $600 like the D penny. And both are considerably less than the no-mint mark penny, with its $2,850 valuation.
A 1953 S penny needs to be graded higher than MS67 to command four figure values. For example, an MS67+ RD 1953 S penny is valued at $1,000 while there is one sole example of an MS68 graded 1953 S penny, which PCGS has valued at $17,500. The auction record, however, is from 2014 when an MS67+ graded 1953 S wheat penny was sold for $3,410.
1953 Proof Wheat Penny Value
In 1953 Philadelphia Mint struck proof pennies as well as regular pennies. These are coins that are not meant for circulation but are produced with collectors in mind. There were only 129,000 proof pennies struck in 1953. They were struck using specially prepared dies and hand-selected planchets.
The proof pennies from 1953 are grouped into three categories which are red, cameo, and deep cameo, sometimes called an ultra cameo. Generally, red coins will have the lowest value, and deep cameo coins the highest. However, this depends on the overall condition of the coin.
When wheat pennies are sent to professional coin grades, they give a cameo designation only to coins with a clear contrast between frosted design details and reflective fields. The contrast on deep cameo coins will be even more striking.
Coins that were struck as proof coins are graded slightly differently from coins intended for circulation. Instead of the letter combinations used for circulating coins, which you can read more about below, proof coin grades always use the letter combination PR followed by a number referring to their condition.
Red 1953 proof pennies graded at PR63 are worth around $30. Cameo-graded coins are about $36 and deep cameo $175. The same price pattern repeats with higher-graded coins, too. A PR67 red 1953 penny is worth about $120, a cameo $525, and a deep cameo $3,850.
The record price for a proof penny from 1953 is from 2021. It was graded as PR67 with a deep cameo and the price estimate was $3,000 to $4,000. However, it proved to be very desirable to collectors and in the end sold for $10,869.
1953 Wheat Penny Grading
Old coins, such as the 1953 wheat penny, are graded by professional grading services using a scale from one to seventy. The lower grades are used for coins that are graded P (poor) or G (good) and the highest grades, from sixty up for MS (mint state) coins.
Coins graded P to G are not worth more than their face value. Often even F (fine) or F (extra fine) coins are not worth more either. Collectors are mainly interested in coins with MS grading. It is when a coin such as the 1953 wheat penny is graded above MS66 that the values start to climb into hundreds of dollars.
If you are looking to learn more about coin grading, this webinar is a great introduction to the process.
Rare 1953 Wheat Penny Error Lists
1953 Wheat Penny Planchet Error
Sometimes coins are struck on the wrong planchet and this happened with the 1953 wheat penny. It is a rare error and in this case, the 1953 penny was struck on a planchet meant for a Cuban one-cent coin. As a result, the coin is the wrong color and the wrong size. Because it is a rare error and the coin was in great condition, it was sold for over $3,000 in an audition.
1953 Wheat Penny BIE Error
This error is caused by a die break error. When there is a defect on the die that is used to strike a coin, the defect is transferred onto the coin. In the case of the 1953 wheat penny, there is an extra line between the letters B and E on ”Liberty”. It looks like the letter I, which is why it is called the BIE error. These coins are not rare and worth around $15,
1953 Wheat Penny Repunched Mint Mark Error
The mint marks used to be hand punched, often resulting in wrongly punched mint marks. The coins would be repunched with the mint mark in the right place. These errors can increase the value of the coin with an MS65 1953 penny with a repunched mint mark selling for $130 and another, graded MS64 for $85.
1953 Wheat Penny Doubled Die Error
This error, which resulted in the doubling of the date, can be seen on many of the 1953-proof pennies. How much these error coins are worth depends on the overall condition of the coin. For example, a PR67 Ultra Cameo coin with doubled die error sold for $1,116 in 2014.
1953 Wheat Penny Frequently Asked Questions
Is a 1953 penny rare?
Circulated 1953 wheat pennies are not considered rare and in the circulated condition, they are not worth more than their face value. However, it is not often that you find 1953 pennies in mint condition and these coins can be worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Why is the 1953 D wheat penny valuable?
While 1953 wheat pennies were printed in large quantities, most of them have been in circulation and show signs of wear and tear. Their color has also changed from red to brown. It is rare to find 1953 D pennies that retain their red color and are in mint state. Therefore, these coins are valuable and desired by collectors.