When it comes to Lincoln Memorial penny key dates, rarities, and varieties, a minor variation on a coin can result in a big difference in the value. Although there are no key dates, there are a few varieties for the Lincoln Memorial cents minted from 1959 through 2008.
While there are hundreds of Lincoln cent varieties out there, the more popular and valuable ones are listed below. If you happen to find a new variety, you may want to hold onto it and have it evaluated by a professional numismatist.
A general rule of thumb regarding the value is the more dramatic or obvious the variety is, the more it will be worth. In other words, if you can spot this rarity without the aid of a magnifying glass, it will be worth more. Read the descriptions carefully and study the photos to see if your Lincoln Memorial penny is worth more than a mere penny.
01 of 07
1969-S: Doubled Die Obverse Variety
This is most probably the Holy Grail of any Lincoln cent Memorial variety. Although extremely rare in any grade, people have found these rare pennies in rolls and in pocket change. An uncirculated coin sold in February of 2012 for over $80,000! In May 2018, a woman searching through roles of pennies discovered an About Uncirculated 55 and sold it for over $24,000!
This coin is a classic example of a doubled die variety. Remember, a doubled die coin is not the same as a double-struck coin. Although both types of coins carry a numismatic premium, the doubled die coins are usually more valuable. Look for a double image on "IN GOD WE TRUST" and on "LIBERTY" on the obverse of the coin. Both images should be raised or in relief.
02 of 07
1970-S: Small Date Variety
In 1970 the San Francisco Mint used two different dies to produce Lincoln Cents that year. One die had a date that was larger than the other. The smaller date is the rarer of the two and carries a premium value. On the large date variety, the "7" in 1970 is lower than the "9" and the "0". On the small date variety, the "7" is level.
The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the date and the word "LIBERTY." If "LIBERTY" is soft and mushy it is most definitely a 1970-S small date variety. If "LIBERTY" is bold and well defined, it is the less desirable 1970-S large date variety.
03 of 07
1972: Doubled Die Obverse Variety
This is most probably the second most popular variety among the Lincoln Memorial pennies. In 1972 the U.S. Mint produced another doubled die variety. Coin collectors easily spotted this coin and everyday people across the country plucked it from circulation. The doubling is strongest on the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" and the word "LIBERTY." People have removed most of the coins from circulation, but every once in a while, you hear of someone finding this rare Lincoln Memorial penny in circulation.
There were several doubled die varieties produced in 1972. The most valuable variety has extreme doubling on the words described above. Other doubled die varieties are not as pronounced as the example shown here and are not worth as much. If you need a high-powered magnifying glass to see the doubling, it is one of the less valuable doubled die varieties.
04 of 07
1983: Doubled Die Reverse Variety
In 1983 more doubled die varieties came from the mint. This time it was on the reverse of the Lincoln Memorial cent. Look in the lower left-hand corner of the coin. You should see strong doubling on the word "ONE." Doubling will also be noticeable on other devices on the coin. Make sure that the image is projecting out from the surface of the coin. Otherwise, it is a coin that got damaged during the ejection process from the coining press.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
1984: Doubled Die Obverse Variety
This doubling on the 1984 Lincoln cent is less noticeable, but it is still very pronounced if you know where to look. Begin by looking at the ear on Lincoln's head. If there are two earlobes, then you have a 1984 doubled-die obverse Lincoln penny.
When looking at the coin, make sure you use proper lighting. Use a single incandescent lightbulb in a desk lamp. Position the coin about 18 inches away from the desk lamp and make sure all other lights in the room are turned off.. Without proper lighting, a reflection from the coin's surface near the ear lobe could give the illusion that there is a second earlobe.
06 of 07
1992: Close "AM" Variety
In 1992 new reverse dies were being prepared for use in making new pennies. The mint produced a die that had a slightly different design to be used on Proof coins. A mint employee accidentally used one of the Proof coin dies in the production of regular coins. You can easily spot the difference by looking at the word "AMERICA" on the reverse. The distance between the "A" and the "M" is very close on the rare variety coin. The letters are further apart on the normal or more common coin. The last one sold for over $20,000 at Heritage Auction Galleries.
07 of 07
1995: Doubled Die Obverse Variety
One of the hardest double dies to find is the 1995 Lincoln Memorial cent doubled die obverse. Although there is doubling on other aspects of the coin, the doubling is strongest on the word "LIBERTY." Use a magnifying glass or loupe and look for doubling on the tops of the letters "BER" in LIBERTY. Due to the fact that the doubling is very minor and hard to see, the demand for this coin is not as strong and hence the numismatic premium is small.