1965 Penny Value: How Much Is It Worth Today?
Collectors pursue coins from every year, including the 1965 penny, and it seems like every year has unique varieties and bits of history attached. The 1965 penny is one of the most populous cents still in circulation, but there are certain details that make it more valuable today.
Most well-worn pennies from before 1982 are still worth twice their face value, but higher grade 1965 pennies are worth about $0.22 to $0.56. The collectible 1965 SMS pennies sell for $5.40.
In this guide, we explain the unique details that make each 1965 penny unique, including the different varieties, grades, and errors you may come across.
1965 Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated||Special Mint Strike|
|1965 No Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.02||$0.02||$0.22||$0.56||/|
|1965 SMS Penny Value||/||/||/||/||$5.40|
1965 No Mint Mark Penny Value
No pennies from 1965 bear a mint mark. These coins belong to the anonymous years of American coinage that ran from 1965 to 1967, but Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco all struck the coins.
The lack of a mint mark makes coins from these years less rare (you cannot separate the coins into communities based on individual mintage), and most 1965 pennies in “Good” or “Fine” condition are only worth their current copper melt value (about $0.02).
While circulated coins are still worth about double their face value, those in “Extremely Fine’ or “Uncirculated” condition are more coveted by collectors. A coin without damage or wear may sell for $0.22 to $0.56 depending on the market, but there are a few factors that increase even this price.
Professional grading is key to tagging a coin with the highest value possible, and it’s a prerequisite for most auctions. The professional guarantee of a coin’s perfect condition and any rare errors can add on hundreds, if not thousands, to its original assumed value.
For example, the current auction record for the 1965 penny listed by PCGS is an NGC-graded MS67 undated Lincoln memorial cent that sold for $7,637.50 in January 2014.
This particular coin was struck fifty percent off center on a clad Roosevelt dime. Professionals used what they know of the coins to pinpoint its supposed date of mintage and verify the obscure error, and the price reflects its uniqueness.
1965 Penny Features
The 1965 penny is part of the Lincoln Memorial Cent series with Victor David Brenner’s Lincoln obverse and Frank Gasparro’s Lincoln Memorial reverse.
On the front, Lincoln’s bust looks to the right of the coin. The top rim reads IN GOD WE TRUST. The identifying year 1965 marks in front of Lincoln’s chest, while the coin reads LIBERTY behind his back.
Pennies from 1965 may have a number of issues with the obverse details due to the use of decades-old dies.
The Lincoln Memorial reverse is struck with a greater detail considering the design debuted only 6 years prior. Coins with a higher grade show Lincoln’s statue inside the memorial and Frank Gasparro’s initials to the lower right of the building.
The reverse reads UNITED STATES OF AMERICA along the top rim, ONE CENT in the bottom rim, and E PLURIBUS UNUM right above the building.
A 1965 penny is made of 95 percent copper, while the remainder uses a zinc and tin alloy to decrease production costs. These are smaller round coins with a diameter of about 19 mm and a weight of 3.11 grams.
The Lincoln Memorial cent is only 1.52 mm thick and features a plain edge. Of the 1,499,584,900 pennies struck in 1965, the majority (1,497,224,900) were intended for circulation and lack the attention or detail seen in the Special Mint Strike coins.
1965 Penny General History
The 1965 penny is part of the long-standing Lincoln Memorial design that is still popular today, but it sits in a unique piece of American Coinage history.
In 1964 the United States witnessed circulation issues with its coins, and the Mint placed the blame on coin collectors at the time. In reality, the rising price of silver and distribution issues were the culprit, but this was only realized after Mint Director Eva Adams removed mint marks from the coins for the following years.
This, in combination with the replacement of silver coins, supposedly improved the circulation issues, and the mint marks returned after 1967. These anonymous coins are easy to find, but difficult to track down in collectible condition.
1965 SMS Penny Value
A 1965 SMS penny reflects the Mint’s attempt at a collectible coin that lacked the notoriety of its usual proof sets. Only 2,360,000 SMS pennies were struck in 1965, making them far more collectible than business-strike coins from that year.
The collectible nature of the coin means that more have survived at a higher grade than the circulated coins. They regularly sell for $5.40 at market, and you can still purchase a full SMS set with all 5 specially struck coins from that year for about $20 to $50.
While these coins weren’t given as much attention as proof coins in previous years, they still bear a greater level of detail and a more attractive surface. As a result, they often have a beautiful red toning and a Cameo grade to further increase value and collectability.
The current recorded auction record is a NGC graded PR67 1965 SMS penny that sold for $4,140 in 2004. This coin is only one of two cents from 1965 graded by NGC with an Ultra Cameo, and its unique orange color shines as if it was just struck.
1965 Special Mint Strike Penny Features
The 1965 SMS penny has the same details as the business-strike coin, but it boasts a more pleasant appearance overall. SMS coins used special dies that resulted in a similar proof luster, but they were not struck twice or handled with any special procedures.
The SMS penny was pressed more firmly to bring out all the details of the coin, and it has a more matte finish than circulating coins. Despite this, it’s to distinguish from business strike coins due to the complete lack of mint marks from this year and the more relaxed striking measures for collectible coins.
To get the full value from a 1965 SMS penny, you should have the original cellophane SMS packaging and documentation as well as professional grading to verify the authenticity of the coin.
There are a few variations in the SMS 1965 pennies that create a value scale.
Coins with red toning will always sell for more than the usual brown-toned cent. You see this in the current auction record, but even smaller sales reflect the discrepancy. For example, a red-brown toned 1965 SMS penny sold for $360 on ebay in 2016; a brown-toned penny of similar grade only sold for $250 on ebay in 2020.
Cameo is another distinguishing factor on the quality of these coins. The 1965 SMS pennies did not offer enough contrast to satisfy collectors (and the Mint would rectify this in the following years), so finding an example with even slight cameo contrast adds a significant premium on the coin.
For example, an MS67 1965 SMS RD penny would sell for about $30, while one with a cameo grade (CAM) would sell for $1,000. The highest-valued 1965 SMS penny has a DCAM grade, and sells for $4,000 or more.
1965 Penny Grading
While any coin going to auction or a serious sale should have professional grading, you can group your coins into general grades at home. This doesn’t do much for putting a price on a coin, but it allows a nondescript understanding of your 1965 penny’s condition.
A coin in “Good” condition shows the most wear. These coins are well circulated, and most of their features have flattened as they passed through hands.
A 1965 penny in “Fine” condition is less flat and less dirty from circulation. While high points like Lincoln’s hair and cheeks are still flat, small lines hint at where details once were.
When the coin reaches “Extremely Fine” condition you see more contrast in the details. Lines on the Lincoln Memorial reverse make it much easier to distinguish details such as columns or Lincoln’s statue inside.
“Uncirculated” 1965 pennies do not bear any wear, and these are the ones you suspect may be a professional Mint State. You can determine this without a magnifying glass, but understand that professional inspection may disqualify your coin.
Professional grading is also needed to distinguish between SMS coins and business-strike coins from these years, although SMS coins without the proper packaging and documentation lose a good portion of their value.
Rare 1965 Penny Errors
While all coins may pick up Mint errors during production, there are a few notes with the 1965 penny. The most common include:
- Double die
- Die break
- BIE error
These are not the only errors you may find from this year, but they’re the most widely recognized and likely to be authentic (and not due to post-production damage).
The added value from an error varies depending on your market and buyer, but it also relates to the condition of the coin and the magnitude of the error.
1965 Die Break Penny
Die breaks and cracks happen as the coin ages, and the obverse penny dies were definitely getting up there. As a result, many of the 1965 pennies bear the marks of a broken die.
A die break usually results in a flat area of the coin or sometimes bumps where the design wasn’t available to strike the coin. Most of these errors add about $5 to $10 to the original value, but larger marks add $100 or more.
1965 Double Die Penny
A 1965 penny with a double die was struck twice (sometimes more) at different angles or locations, resulting in a ghosting appearance of its design. Usually, the secondary lines are difficult to notice and barely stray from the original strike.
The value of a double die penny increases depending on how apparent the mistake was. Slight variations sell for about $10 on the original value of the coin, while lines further off or a greater number of strikes add $50 to $100 (or more).
1965 BIE Error Penny
A BIE error refers to a crack on the die that causes the appearance of an “I” between the “B” and “E” in the LIBERTY inscription. These coins appear to read LIBIERTY instead, almost as if that were the original intention.
While still technically a die break issue, the BIE error is common and easily recognized on many coins. The mistake often looks like the original inscription font, and you may not notice the issue at first.
A 1965 BIE error penny adds about $5 to $10 on its original value, but this more closely relates to the original grade of the coin.
1965 Penny FAQs
How Much Is a 1965 Penny worth?
Most 1965 pennies are only worth their copper melt value (about $0.02), but well-preserved coins sell for $0.22 to $0.56 at market. Collector-grade 1965 pennies regularly sell for $320 or greater at auction.
What Makes a 1965 Lincoln Penny Rare?
A circulated 1965 Lincoln penny isn’t rare, but finding one in Mint State is. Coins from this year that retain their original features and luster are difficult to find, and if you can find one with a verified mint error it adds a premium on the penny’s base value.
Does a 1965 Penny Have a Mint Mark?
A 1965 penny does not have a mint mark. These coins were minted during the U.S. Mint’s attempt to mitigate the supposed collection and hoarding of coins, and removing the mint mark made them less desirable.
What Is a 1965 SMS Penny?
A 1965 SMS penny refers to a Special Mint Strike version of the coin. The U.S. mint created SMS coins during its anonymous years to allow collectors their bit of fun, but these coins were not produced with the same care as proof coins from the surrounding years.
How Much Copper Is in a 1965 Penny?
A 1965 penny is 95 percent copper (about 2.95 grams), and the remainder of the coin’s composition involves tin and zinc.