Have you ever heard of a million-dollar penny? Turns out it’s a thing.
The vast majority of pennies are worth one cent but there are special rare pennies that go for hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars.
In January, a 1958-dated Lincoln cent mistakenly made with doubling in some letters of the design sold for a record $1,136,250.
According to a press release, a collector who passed away last November had a collection of 276 mint-condition Lincoln cents dating back to 1909 with a combined face value of only $2.76 — but the collection sold for $7,731,811 in a series of six auctions.
The winning bid for the 1958 penny came from an advanced collector who needed this coin to complete his collection, the press release states.
“In addition to setting an auction record for the first million-dollar Lincoln cent, 13 other superb-condition pennies in Mr. Blay’s painstakingly-assembled collection sold for record six-figure prices, ranging from $120,937 for a 1911 cent to $601,875 for one of the approximately 50 known doubled die cents made in 1969 at the San Francisco Mint,” said Ian Russell, president of GreatCollections of Irvine, California.
Doubled die coins occur when the metal die used to make coins is incorrectly struck twice, resulting in all coins minted with that die appearing double-struck.
A report from Reuters notes that a rare 1792 American penny sold at auction for $2.6 million in 2015.
Only 10 of the “Birch Cent” coins, named after their engraver Robert Birch, are believed to exist.
Other pennies with high dollar values include the 1943 Bronze Lincoln, the 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse, the 1992 Close AM Reverse and more, according to CNBC.
David Stone, a coin cataloger for Heritage, told CNBC Make It that only a handful of the bronze pennies have been discovered and one of them sold for $1.7 million in 2010.
Price of Pennies
Pennies have been a topic of hot debate over the last decade.
A report from the Congressional Research Service states that the cost to produce a penny in 2021 was 2.1 cents, marking the 16th consecutive year where it costs more to produce pennies than they are actually worth.
Several legislative proposals have also been put forward in recent years to have penny production temporarily suspended or have the penny removed from circulation entirely, according to the report.
“Proponents of the penny’s elimination cite the potential to save money, to free up U.S. Mint production capacity to focus on higher-denomination coins that have a higher margin,” the report states.
Countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand have all stopped producing pennies.