The 1974 penny value is a controversial topic in the world of numismatics. There are two major variants of this coin, including the 1974 copper penny and the 1974 silver penny.
Each of these variants has a unique value and its own sub-types. Hence, it’s difficult to quote one figure or one range to estimate this penny’s worth.
In this post, we’ll dive deep into each variant of the 1974 penny, so you can estimate the value of each variant as accurately as possible. Let’s get started!
1974 Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||MS-61||MS-62||MS-63||MS-65||MS-66||MS-67||Proof Grade|
|1974 No Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.05||$0.05||$0.05||$0.05||$0.33||$5||$7.50||–|
|1974 No Mint Mark Aluminum Penny Value||–||–||$162,000||–||–||–||–||–|
|1974 “D” Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.05||$0.25||$0.50||$0.75||$2.50||$5||$7.50||–|
|1974 “D” Mint Mark Aluminum Penny Value||–||–||–||$250,000||–||–||–||–|
|1974 “S” Mint Mark Penny Value||$0.05||$0.25||$0.25 to $0.50||$0.75||$10||$25||$1,100||$2|
1974 No Mint Mark Penny Value (Philadelphia)
The 1974 No Mint Mark penny is the most basic and abundantly available variant of the 1974 penny. Approximately 4,232,140,523 units of these pennies were produced at the Philadelphia Mint back in the year.
Since these were for common circulation and commercial trade, there’s a high chance you can find one or two 1974 penny in your home too. Although this lowers the rarity level of the coin, it’s worth noting that even a worn-out 1974 is twice as much as its face value. This means you can sell a worn-out 1974 penny for two cents.
An uncirculated or good condition 1974 penny may be valued at 30 – 50 cents.
Structurally, the 1974 No Mint Mark penny has a diameter of 19mm and a thickness of about 1.55mm. The traditional copper variant of this coin comprises 95% copper and the remaining 5% is a blend of zinc and tin. Overall, it weighs 3.11 grams.
The edges of this coin are smooth like most other Lincoln pennies. The same goes for its obverse and reverse side.
The obverse side of the coin features Abraham Lincoln’s portrait designed by Victor David Brenner. At the top of this portrait, there’s an arching text that says: In God We Trust.
On the left side of Abraham Lincoln’s portrait, the text Liberty is printed, while the right side features the year of the coin. Since there’s no mint mark on this coin, you will not find any letter below the year.
The reverse side of the coin features the Lincoln Memorial. If you look closely enough, you can spot Abraham Lincoln sitting in his place.
There’s some text right above this memorial that reads: E. PLURIBUS. UNUM. It means “out of many, one.”
The text right below the upper curve of the coin reads UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, while the text right above the bottom curve of the coin reads ONE CENT. This side of the coin was designed by Frank Gasparro.
1974 No Mint Mark Aluminum Penny Value (Philadelphia)
1974 No Mint mark aluminum penny is a rarity. And it has quite an interesting history attached to it.
Back in 1973, the United States Mint suggested a new variant of the traditional one-cent to combat the rising costs of coin production. Overall, this new suggested variant had the same design and outlook as the traditional copper penny. But it was made up of a different material, i.e., aluminum. Or to be precise, it comprised 95% aluminum and 5% trace metals.
About 1.5 million units of these coins were produced at the Philadelphia Mint, and a few of the initial units were distributed amongst the US Congressmen to win support. But the suggestion for the aluminum coin was rejected. And hence, the Mint destroyed the produced coins.
But according to Mary Brooks (Director of the US Mint at the time), 14 samples of the 1974 aluminum penny were never returned from government officials. Even the FBI was assigned the task to recover these 14 lost samples of the 1974 silver penny, but they were never found!
In 2001, however, the news of such a coin stormed the media. By 2005, this coin got verified and recognized as the Toven Specimen.
It’s known as Toven Specimen because it was reported by Albert Toven (a US Officer Capitol). Toven reports that he found the penny when a government official dropped it in a hearing about 1974 aluminum cents. Although Toven tried returning this cent to the official (thinking it was a dime), the government official told him to keep it.
With that said, this coin is currently graded PCGS MS-62 and valued at $162,000. There’s another specimen of this coin at the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. It was donated by a government official.
The government is still looking for the missing units!
1974 “D” Mint Mark Penny Value
1974 D Mint Mark Penny is structurally and visually the same as the 1974 no mint mark penny. Except that there’s a small D imprinted below the year on the obverse side of the coin.
These were produced at the Denver Mint and about 4,235,098,000 of the coins were released in circulation. Hence, these are common too and their face value is one cent. The actual value of these coins ranges from five cents to a few dollars.
Here’s an overview of the current 1974 D Mint Mark Brown Penny values:
- Fine: 5 cents
- MS 60: 10 cents
- MS 62: 50 cents – 60 cents
- MS 63: 75 – 85 cents
- MS 65: $2.50
- MS 67: $7.50
The valuation of 1974 D red-brown as well as 1974 D red pennies are more or less the same as 1974 No Mint Mark pennies. But the cost of MS 67 – RED penny is about $130. So, if you have a good-condition coin, you might be able to sell it for a better price.
1974 “D” Mint Mark Aluminum Penny Value
Here comes another rarity! Similar to the 1974 No Mint Mark Aluminum Penny, there are only one or two known units of the 1974 D mint mark aluminum penny. These pennies share the same interesting history.
However, unlike the No Mint Mark variant, these pennies were not produced in large quantities.
Back when the aluminum variant of the Lincoln penny was in consideration, roughly 10 to 20 units were produced at the Denver Mint. They were supposed to serve as samples to Congress and were supposed to be recollected and destroyed when the suggestion was dismissed.
But they suffered a similar fate as that of the Philadelphia aluminum pennies. Some of the distributed pennies never returned.
In 2014, Randall Lawrence showed up with this rare 1974 penny and put it up for auction. He had inherited this coin from his father, Harry Lawrence, who was an official at the Denver Mint.
Since his father had legally acquired this coin and defied no law as he transferred it to his son, it didn’t make sense for the government to interfere.
But soon, the US Mint claimed the coin as stolen property and a legal suit prevailed between the US Mint and Randall Lawrence. The outcome of this legal fight was in the favor of the US Mint.
Randall Lawrence didn’t get to earn much from his valuable 1974 D aluminum penny and surrendered it to the Mint in 2016.
Currently, it is known as the Lawrence specimen and has a valuation of $250,000. Plus, it’s graded MS-63.
1974 “S” Mint Mark Penny Value
The 1974 S Mint Mark penny possesses the same appearance, feel, value, and construction as any other Lincoln penny. However, there’s a small S printed right below the 9 and 7 of the year text on the obverse side of the coin.
This small S indicates that the coin was produced at the San Francisco Mint. And as per history, approximately 409,426,660 units got minted.
These varieties of the 1974 penny do not hold much value as they’re common. But for an idea, here’s what the red-brown 1974 S mint mark penny values look like:
- MS 64: $5
- MS 65: $10
- MS 66: $25
The value of red 1974 S mint mark pennies is much higher. Here’s what the values look like:
- MS 64: $10
- MS 65: $15
- MS 66: $55
- MS 67: $1100
The brown variants of the 1974 S mint mark penny are much cheaper in terms of value, ranging from $2.50 – $10.
Now, there’s a proof-grade version of this coin as well. But that too is valued at $2 or so.
1974 Penny Grading
The 1974 penny is graded like any other coin. First, assess your coin manually using a magnifying glass and under a good light source. Look for the following:
- Material of the coin
- Mint mark
- Wear & tear
- Strength of strike
Once you’re well aware of these aspects of your 1974 penny, determine where it stands on the Sheldon Scale. We recommend watching this video to quickly identify rare 1974 pennies in circulation.
Rare 1974 Penny Error Lists
1974 S Penny with a Die Break (Obverse)
A die break error is when a piece of the stamping die breaks or becomes misaligned. It results in a missing piece or incorrect design on a coin.
Some 1974 S pennies were minted with this unique error. As a result of this, there was a missing piece on the front of the coin. There was also a missing piece on the back of the coin above the memorial.
The error covers some of the words “E. PLURIBUS UNUM” on the back. Since the error is rare, it makes the coin more valuable to collectors. In an auction, collectors paid up to $184 for this coin.
1974 Penny with a Double-Head Error
A double-head error is a mistake in the minting process of a coin where two identical designs appear on the same side of the coin. Like several other double-headed coin errors, this occurred with the 1974 pennies as well.
Two Lincoln heads were stamped onto the obverse, creating a unique and rare error that is highly sought after by coin collectors.
What’s particularly intriguing about this coin error is that it was counter-stamped by a third party after it was minted. Normally, when such a minting error occurs, artisans will detect it and melt the coin before it can enter circulation.
However, this unique penny managed to slip through the cracks and found its way into circulation. Although it has close to zero numismatic value, many dealers are interested in buying it due to its rarity and uniqueness. It’s a fascinating piece of coin history that any collector would be thrilled to add to their collection.
1974 Penny Value FAQs
Is it illegal to own a 1974 aluminum penny?
Considering former legal suits concerning the legality of owning a 1974 aluminum penny, it is safe to say there’s no lawful punishment prescribed for anyone who owns a 1974 aluminum penny.
The last case let go of the 1974 aluminum penny owner because ‘no evidence of criminal intent’ was found. Even so, it’s a good idea to submit a 1974 aluminum penny to the government since it’s government property.
Is a 1974 penny worth $2 million?
Yes! A rare 1974 aluminum penny can be worth $2 million. Currently, the 1974 D Mint Mark Aluminum penny is valued at $250,000.
What makes a 1974 D rare?
It’s material. Typically, there are two varieties of 1974 D Mint Mark coin. One of them is made up of copper and it’s common. The other one is made up of aluminum and it’s super rare. It’s worth noting that only one unit of rare 1974 D aluminum has been recovered.