1959 Penny Value: How Much Is It Worth Today?
Are you interested in learning everything about the 1959 Penny value? If yes, you have come to the right place!
However, before we delve into the values of 1959 Pennies with different mint marks, we will talk about its history, which is fascinating. In between, we will describe its design and later talk about the errors that make it unique, answer some of the frequently asked questions, and much more!
1959 Penny Value Chart
|Condition||1959 No Mint Penny||1959 D Penny|
1959 No Mint Penny Value
1959 Penny is quite an interesting coin since its obverse and reverse were designed to commemorate the 100th and 150th birth anniversary of the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, respectively.
The history of the penny, though, began a few years before the centennial year of the president’s birth, in 1904, as that was the year when the then US President Theodore Roosevelt expressed his dissatisfaction with the artistic merit of the US coins in a letter to the US Treasury Secretary, Leslie Mortier Shaw.
Roosevelt wanted the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to be in charge of redesigning the coins, which is why the US Mint hired Saint-Gaudens soon after.
The sculptor was tasked with changing 5 coins: the cent, the double eagle ($20), the eagle ($10), the half eagle ($5), and the quarter eagle ($2.50). The latter four are known as gold coins.
He ended up redesigning the 4 gold coins but died of cancer before finishing designs for the cent or submitting a design that US Mint would approve.
For this reason, Roosevelt and the Mint had to find a replacement, and the decision was made in favor of Victor David Brenner. Although it was never confirmed, Roosevelt offered the job to Brenner while he was posing for him in 1908 because he liked a 1907 Lincoln plaque that Brenner designed.
The decision to put a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on a US coin was made since a lot of people wanted to immortalize the former president on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1909, and this was one way of doing that.
An interesting thing about the Lincoln cent is that it has been in circulation for more than 110 years – all the way from 1909 until today. Its design changed a couple of times, but it never went out of circulation, making it the longest-used US coin in history.
Mintage & Value
Since the US Mint expected a huge increase in demand for the 1959 No Mint Pennies due to the commemoration of Lincoln’s 150th birth year, they decided to produce more than twice as many pennies in 1959 than in 1958, and the mintage rose from 252,525,000 to 609,715,000.
The increase in the mintage would go on to almost become a yearly thing since the Mint was trying to keep up with the demand, purchasing power, and inflation.
Unfortunately, large amounts of coins produced combined with the composition of mostly copper and small denomination mean the coin is not that valuable.
For example, 1959 No Mint Lincoln Memorial Penny is worth only 25 cents in mint state 60. A specimen in mint state 65 is expected to bring you around a dollar and twenty cents.
One thing that needs to be mentioned when talking about 1959 Pennies is that a large part of their value is linked to their color since they are made from copper. Three colors you can find them in are: brown, red-brown, and red. The redder the coin, the pricier it is, of course.
That is why two of the most expensive 1959 No Mint Pennies ever sold were graded as red (they were also in mint state 67). Their prices were $5,887 and $5,040, by the way.
1959 Proof Penny Value
Brenner’s design for the obverse features a profile (right) of Abraham Lincoln. The portrait is, of course, the reason why this coin is better known as the Lincoln cent or penny.
Other details on the 1959 Penny obverse are the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST, seen along the coin’s top rim, writing LIBERTY, located on the coin’s left side next to Lincoln’s neck, and the minting year, 1959, which can be found on the right bottom side.
The coins that were struck at the mint in Denver have the mint mark below the date year.
From 1909 until 1958, Lincoln cents featured a reverse with two wheat stalks designed by the aforementioned Brenner, which is why this coin was also known as Wheat Penny.
However, the reverse’s design changed in 1959 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
Unrelated Interesting Note: 150th anniversary is called the sesquicentennial.
US Mint held an internal competition among its engravers to find a suitable design for this occasion. A design of the Lincoln Memorial, the place that was built in Washington, DC, to honor Abraham Lincoln, made by Frank Gasparro, would go on to win the competition.
Many people were surprised when the announcement that the reverse would be changed was made since no one in the public sphere was even aware that there were talks about doing this.
Besides the Lincoln Memorial, located in the center, you will find the writing UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in the top periphery, denomination ONE CENT in the bottom one, and the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, written between the Lincoln Memorial and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The designer’s initials, FG, can be found to the right of the memorial.
An interesting thing about the 1959 Penny is that it is one of the rare coins that features the same person on both the obverse and reverse.
Apart from Lincoln’s portrait on the obverse, this coin has the assassinated president’s seated figure in front of the memorial depicted on the reverse.
Mintage & Value
In 1959, 1,149,291 Lincoln Memorial Proof coins were struck at the mint in Philadelphia. As you already know, proof coins are more valuable than business strike specimens which is why one in the state graded as PR65 is worth $3.41.
But an interesting thing can be observed when we look at some of the auctions. If we exclude the highest prices that a 1959 Proof Penny was sold for, which was $20,700, other highly graded coins are in the same price range as the 1959 No Mint Pennies.
1959 D Penny Value
Before we tell you everything about the 1959 Penny’s value, let’s finish the general story about 1959 Pennies with several details that concern its specifications.
The 1959 Penny is a lightweight coin with a mass of 0.109 oz (3.11 g), a diameter of 0.750 in (19.05 mm), and a thickness of 0.059 in (1.52 mm). The face value of this coin, whose edge is plain, is, of course, one cent ($0.01). Its melt value is 2 cents.
Similarly to what happened to the 1959 No Mint Penny’s mintage, the 1959 D Penny production saw a huge uptick in 1959 compared to 1958 as the amount rose from 800,953,300 to 1,279,760,000.
Even though the mintage of 1959 Pennies produced in Denver is much higher than that of the 1959 No Mark ones, they are not less valuable. On the contrary, in MS60, a 1959 D Penny is worth almost 60 cents which is more than double what a No Mint Penny in the same condition costs.
When we take a look at some of the auctions, we notice a similarity with the 1959 Proof Pennies – there is an outlier highest price of $48,300, followed by several coins valued in the thousands.
1959 Penny Grading
1959 Pennies are not worth much, but they are still being used today, which means there is a chance that you have a valuable one sitting in your pocket. How will you find out if it is valuable? Well, of course, by educating yourself on how to grade it. To do that, please watch this video!
Rare 1959 Penny List Of Errors
Coins with errors are almost always worth more than regular ones, please take a look at a few of the errors we explained just for you in the lines below.
1959 Penny Double Die Obverse Error
Double die error occurs when the die strikes the planches twice but in slightly different places, making it look like the letters or depictions have a shadow. This error is best noticed in 1959 No Mint Pennies’ letters and the date.
If you own a coin with this error graded as MS66 or 65 + RD, you can expect to earn at least 200 dollars for it.
1959 Penny Repunched Mint Mark Error
A repunched mint mark occurs when the letter with which the mint mark is struck onto the planchet leaves two or more offset impressions which usually overlap.
There are some 1959 D Pennies that feature this error, and you could earn around $100 for one that is in mint state 65. In MS64, they are valued at around 50 dollars.
The Curious Case Of 1959 D Mule Lincoln Penny
This error is quite interesting and deserves at least a small(er) article, so we will try to be concise as possible here.
As we have already stated, the reverse of the 1959 Penny features Lincoln Memorial, which was not the case with the Lincoln cents before 1959 since they had two wheat stalks on the back.
However, in 1986, Leon Baller, a retired police officer at the time, claimed he purchased a 1959 D Penny for $1,500 that had wheat stalks on the reverse. Since a coin like this should not have existed, it got nicknamed the “Mule”.
But this is not where the story ends. Baller sent the coin to the US Department of Treasury in 1987 for them to check if the coin was authentic or not. Their Forensic Services Division answered affirmatively.
However, not many people were convinced by this answer since the person examing the coin was not a coin but a currency expert.
Baller then sold the coin to Heritage Auctions, who later sold it to a collector. In 2002, that person did the same thing as Baller and sent the Mule to Treasury Department. Their answer was the same as the first time.
Even though a convicted forger Mark Hofman claimed to have produced the coin, his claim could not be corroborated by the US Secret Service.
Despite all this, the coin was sold twice – first in 2003 for $48,300 and then in 2010 for $31,000.
To this day, no one knows for sure if the coin is real, but the fact that only one specimen was found and that it was produced with spark erosion, which is a method used for making fake coins, makes it more probable that it is a fake one.
If you manage to get your hands on one (real or fake), please let us know – we would not mind splitting the money with you!
1959 Penny FAQ
What is a 1959 Penny made of?
1959 Penny is made of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc.
How do I know if my 1959 Penny is rare?
Since 1959 Pennies have been minted in the hundreds of millions, regular strike coins are not rare at all. 1959 Proof Pennies are somewhat rarer since only 1,149,291 of them were produced. So, your best bets are the 1959 Lincoln Memorial Pennies with errors.
What is the 1959 Penny error?
1959 Penny has several errors such as double die or repunched mint mark.
However, the most famous error is the 1959 D Mule Penny, which has wheat stalks instead of the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse.