The 1971 penny belongs to the Lincoln Memorial cent category and can be easily distinguished because it features the image of Abraham Lincoln! Many collectors like to have this coin due to its historical value. However, does this penny have any monetary value?
First, the 1971 pennies were made of copper, and hence they do not have significant melt value compared to, for example, silver coins, for which you can always get at least $15, depending on the weight. So, the 1971 penny in a circulated condition is worth its face value -$0.01.
However, do not let this discourage you! Certain specimens of the 1971 penny can be worth thousands!
1971 Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Excellent||MS 64/||MS 65||MS 67|
|1971 No Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.01||$10-$13||$20-$30||$150-$200|
|1971 D Penny Value||$0.01||$8-$10||$20-$25||$250|
|1971 S Penny Value||$0.01||$12-$15||$20||$300|
|PR 64||PR 66||PR 68||PR 69|
|1971 S Proof Penny||$7-$9||$10-$16||$20-$80||$100-$4,000|
1971 No Mint Mark Penny Value
The 1971 Lincoln Cent was first minted in 1909 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday. Interestingly, it was the first penny to feature a real person, although the coin’s reverse was changed over time.
Most of the coins minted before this penny highlighted an image of Lady Liberty on the obverse. The first Lincoln penny featured two stalks of wheat on the reverse; hence it was called the Lincoln wheat penny, and it was minted from 1909 to 1958.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt initiated the idea of changing the design of the cent coin, believing that it lacked artistic merit.
As an avid admirer of Lincoln’s life work and political ideology, Roosevelt wanted to honor the 16th president by placing his bust on the new cent. Furthermore, the 100th anniversary of his birth was approaching, and it seemed the perfect time to employ such a design on the cent.
The US Mint hired Victor D. Brenner to create the design, who had previously designed medals and allegedly had begun working on a coin that featured Lincoln. The president was thrilled with his design, and in 1908, after having a business meeting with Roosevelt, he was officially chosen for the task.
The 1971 Lincoln Memorial penny has been minted since 1959, and, as noted, it features a different design on the reverse. The design on the reverse was changed in 1958 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lincoln’s wheat cent and the 150th anniversary of his birth.
The design of the obverse remained the same, and it featured Lincoln facing right. Above his head, on the upper rim, we can see the American motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST,” while the mintage year “1971” is on Lincoln’s right.
On his left side, we can see the capitalized inscription “LIBERTY.” Frank Gasparro designed the reverse, depicting the image of Lincoln’s Memorial, built between 1914 and 1922 to honor the legacy and numerous achievements of the 16th president.
The Lincoln Memorial is in the center of the coin, surrounded by the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” on the upper rim. Above the memorial, the American motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” is separated into two rows, meaning “Out of many, one.”
The designer’s initials VDB are struck alongside Lincoln’s shoulder on the obverse. Regarding the 1971 Lincoln Memorial cent’s details, the metal composition of these coins is 95% copper and 5% zinc. The coin’s diameter is 19mm (0.74803 inches), and they weigh around 3.11 grams (0.1097 ounces).
This composition was used from 1959 to 1982, when it was changed to a copper alloy and then to an alloy of zinc and copper. The edge is plain, and the shape is round, while the coin’s face value is $0.01 (one cent).
The 1971 Lincoln penny was produced in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. The total mintage is 5,355,669,069, which is pretty high. Interestingly, the Philadelphia Mint did not have the highest mintage in the series, but Denver Mint did.
Philadelphia coined nearly 2 billion of the Lincoln Memorial cents in 1971. Although most coins have a mint mark indicating where it was produced, the ones minted in Philadelphia do not have it. Therefore, it is not a counterfeit if you come across such a coin.
So, Philadelphia produced 1,919,490,000 Lincoln Memorial pennies, which is very high. A high mintage number indicates that these coins are readily available even today and can be found in various conditions.
This also affects the price; given that the 1971 No Mint Mark Lincoln penny is not rare in lower grades, you can get them easily, and they usually cost their face value. When it comes to the value of the 1971 No Mint Mark penny, they are practically worthless in fine or even excellent condition.
The 1971 No Mint Mark Lincoln penny is mainly valuable in mint states, starting with MS 64 and higher. However, if the coin has a rare error, the price can increase to several thousand.
So, the 1971 No Mint Mark penny in MS 64 is worth between $10 and $13, while in MS 65, the price for the Lincoln penny is between $20 and $40, depending on the market. With these coins, the ones in higher mint states are usually a rarity, so they cost much more than the regular circulated coins.
For 1971 No Mint Mark penny in MS 66 or MS 66+, expect to pay between $20 and $50.
The most attractive and rarest are the 1971 No Mint Mark Lincoln pennies in MS 67; their price ranges between $150 and $200.
The rarest are 1971 No Mint Mark Lincoln pennies in MS 67+, which can cost several thousand. The highest amount paid for the 1971 No Mint Mark Lincoln penny with RD designation is $4,406 at the Heritage Auctions.
1971 D Penny Value
The highest mintage of the Lincoln Memorial penny was in Denver- 2,911,045,600, meaning these coins are the least valuable and attractive in the series. Furthermore, they do not have great value in good and even excellent condition.
These coins can be distinguished by the “D” mint mark on the obverse underneath the mintage date. The 1971 D penny in lower grades costs its face value, rendering it practically worthless. Also, the high mintage number shows you can easily purchase them in different conditions.
However, which ones are the most valuable? The most attractive is the uncirculated specimens with interesting toning and errors. The 1971 D Lincoln penny in MS 64 is worth around $8 to $10, depending on the toning and the market.
This coin with a “D” mint mark in MS 65 can cost from$20 to $25. Similarly to the previous variety, the 1971 D penny in MS 67 is rare and desirable; it can cost around $250 or even more.
According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the mint state 67 is the highest condition for these pennies, and there are only 275 of these coins in existence. However, the color of the coin can change its price.
When it comes to Lincoln cents, which are copper coins, they can be given a red color designation (abbreviated as RD), brown (abbreviated as (BN), and red-brown (abbreviated as RB).
So, if you come across a coin with one of these designations, it shows the amount of red and brown on its surface. The predominantly reddish (RD) coins are attractive and sought-after; hence, they cost more than their counterparts (BN and RB).
1971 S Penny Value
The lowest mintage in the series was in San Francisco Mint-only 525,133,459. The 1971 S Lincoln pennies have a distinguishable “S” mint mark on the obverse underneath the mintage date. Despite the low mintage, the 1971 S penny is not very interesting to lower-grader collectors.
These coins are mainly valuable in mint states because not many specimens survived with that level of preservation. Therefore, for the 1971 S penny in MS 64, expect to pay around $12 to $15.
For the same coins in MS 65, expect to pay around $20 or higher, depending on the color designation.
The most valuable are the specimens in MS 67 or MS 67+, the highest grades for the 1971 S penny.
In MS 67, the coin can cost around $300. The auction record for the 1971 S penny in MS 67+ with RD designation is $1,650, which happened at the Heritage Auctions.
1971 S Proof Penny Value
The San Francisco Mint also struck proof coins in 1971, which can be given one of three designations: cameo (CAM), deep cameo (DCAM), and proofs without any designation. If you want to learn more about grading proof coins and these designations, click here!
These designations refer to the quality of the frosted devices on the coins. The most attractive designation is the deep cameo because those coins are the most expensive and rarest. Also, proof coins are graded on the Sheldon scale, ranging from the numeric grade of 60 through 70.
They usually have PR or PF designation to indicate that it is a proof coin, not a regular one. So, the 1971 S proof coin in PR 64 is worth around $7, the one with a cameo designation is worth 8, and the 1971 S proof coin with a deep cameo designation is worth around $9.
The price for the 1972 S proof penny in PR 66 ranges between $10 and $16, while for the same specimen in PR 67, expect to pay between $20 and $80. However, the values are very different when it comes to the 1971 proof pennies with PR 69 grade, which is nearly perfect.
In this condition, the coin can cost several thousand if it has a deep cameo designation because they are the rarest in this grade and with that designation. In the undesignated category, the 1971 S proof penny can cost around $35, while the one with cameo designation can cost around $120.
As mentioned earlier, the proofs with deep cameo are the rarest, costing four figures. The auction record for the 1971 S proof penny with deep cameo is $4,100.
1971 Penny Grading
If you know anything about coin collecting, you are probably familiar with the grading system, which is very confusing. The grading process depends on several factors, such as the condition, mintage date, total mintage number, errors, and special designations, among others.
Also, grading is subjective, and the experts often disagree on prices!
1971 Penny Rare Errors List
The 1971 Lincoln cent is not particularly known for having numerous errors, and interestingly, certain defects are restricted to only some varieties.
1971 Penny Double Die Obverse Error
The double die error is mostly found in the 1971 No Mint Mark penny and the 1971 S proof penny. The double die obverse is the error located on the obverse and refers to the duplication of elements on the coin and the working die used to strike that coin.
You can determine this error by noticing an element on the coin having two slightly offset images. The doubling is usually found on the letters “LIBERTY” and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The rarest pieces are those with the double die obverse error and a high mint state.
The 1971 No Mint Mark penny in MS 63 with this error is worth around $350. However, if the coin is in MS 65, the price can reach $1,000. The auction record for the 1971 No Mint Mark penny in MS 66 was set in 2011- the collector paid the jaw-dropping $15,000 for the coin.
On the other hand, the 1971 S proof penny with double die obverse can cost a small fortune, such as the specimen in PR 66 with RD and DCAM designation was sold for $2,700.
1971 Penny FAQs
Is there anything special about a 1971 penny?
Although most of the 1971 pennies are not very valuable and have almost zero melt value, certain specimens are expensive and rare. The 1971 pennies are special if they have a high grade and a double die error.
This error significantly boosts the price to a thousand or even more.
What makes the 1971 penny valuable?
Several factors can change the price of the 1971 penny! First, the grade is very important; only the coins in high mint states are valuable. Then, these coins have color designations, and the most valuable is RD or red.
Ultimately, if you have a proof coin, designated DCAM, or deep cameo, it will also be very valuable!