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1929 Penny Value: A Coin with Good Value, But Sometimes Depressingly Scarce

1929 Penny Value: A Coin with Good Value, But Sometimes Depressingly Scarce

The year 1929 marked the final crash of the New York Stock Exchange, which is usually thought of as the start of the Great Depression. In film, audiences could enjoy the Laurel and Hardy short, “Big Business,” in which the pair systematically demolish a house. Maurice Chevalier introduced the song “Louise” to American audiences. Cole Porter debuted the musical, “Fifty Million Frenchmen,” in which, perhaps prophetically, a rich man attempts to live without money for a time. Despite the apparent calm before the storm, 1929 would mark the end of prosperity and care free life, at least for the well-to-do, for a long time to come.

History and Production of the 1929 Lincoln Wheat Penny

Even though the stock market crash of October 1929, marked the start of the Great Depression, it would take some time for the collapse in stock prices to turn into a more general collapse in trade. While production of the one cent piece would fall in future years as the financial situation worsened and dried up the demand for coins, the economy remained robust for the first part of 1929, and production of Lincoln wheat pennies was higher than in any year since 1920.

In the 1920s, the Philadelphia Mint (which customarily placed no mint mark on its coins) was far and away the largest producer of Lincoln wheat pennies. The San Francisco Mint, which provided coins for the western part of the U.S., produced the next largest number. The Denver Mint, unusually, produced the fewest coins. The total coinage of Lincoln pennies in 1929 came to 277,140,000, distributed as follows:

MintCoins Struck

1929 Lincoln Penny Value

1929 Penny Value Chart
Good G4Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1929 1C BN$0.25$9.45$27.00
1929 1C RB$12.15$54.00
1929 1C RD$37.80$128.00$1,220.00
1929-D 1C BN$0.40$54.00$156.00
1929-D 1C RB$54.00$195.00
1929-D 1C RD$94.00$572.00
1929-S 1C BN$0.4$27.00$81.00
1929-S 1C RB$35.10$195.00$1,500.00
1929-S 1C RD$76.00$468.00$5,250.00
1929-S/S 1C RPM FS-501 RD$585.00$2,500.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Factors That Affect Value

Image credit: PCGS

Coin values for the 1929 wheat penny depend, as with all coins, upon the number of coins produced, the number of specimens which survive, and the condition, or grade, of any given coin being examined. Collector interest also can play a significant role in the value of coins, both in the higher end of uncirculated or “mint-state” coins, which can command significant prices at auction, and in the lower grades that can be used to fill beginning collectors’ penny books or a curio cabinet in the effort to make a complete type set. Specialized collectors can also look for specific kinds of errors which are known to exist.

Lincoln penny values, like other coin values, are usually discussed in terms of grades. A dealer’s appraisal or estimate of the value of a coin will mention a grade which consists both of a term, and a number. The term describes the appearance of the coin, compared to a set of pictures or charts, and includes descriptions like “good” or “fine” at the lower end, through to “about-uncirculated,” at a higher end. At the highest end, “uncirculated” or “mint-state,” terms which can be used more or less interchangeably, describe coins that have never been handled commercially. The number, which ranges from 1 to 70, to provide a more refined and granular description of a coin’s condition. Higher numbers are generally considered to be better specimens. Numbers 1 through 59 denote circulated coins, which have been used commercially. The numbers 60 and above denote coins which are considered uncirculated, and unused in commerce. In the lower grades, some numbers are usually skipped. Occasionally, a plus sign (“+”) is used to indicate an especially nice specimen within the particular grade.

Bronze and copper coins, like the 1929 Lincoln wheat penny, can also be described as either “red,” (abbreviated “RD”) “red/brown,” (abbreviated “RB”) or “brown,” (abbreviated “BN”). This term essentially refers to the amount of oxidation that has built up on the coin. Even the lower grades of uncirculated or mint-state coin can be found with brown or red/brown designations. The highest grades of uncirculated, beginning with MS-67, often have only “red” descriptions, although this is not an invariable rule.

A “red” coin still retains much of its original luster or shine, as though it was a newly minted piece of bronze or copper. At the other extreme, a “brown” coin is almost entirely oxidized, to a dull color, and contains no more than about ten percent of its original shiny red color.

For the year 1929, brown Lincoln one cent pieces are usually found in the circulated grades of “good” through “about uncirculated,” and can be found also in the lower uncirculated grades like MS-63 and MS-65. Red and red-brown coins aren’t found in the circulating grades.

Values for Circulated 1929 Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Looking at the chart, values for the lowest grades of Lincoln one cent pieces minted in 1929 are quite modest. Coins graded “Good” or “G-4” can still be found for under $1.00 for the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints. Nicer specimens, graded Fine, Extra-Fine, or About Uncirculated rise rapidly in value, especially for the Denver and San Francisco coins. Even at the highest uncirculated grade, AU-55, however, specimens from all three mints can be found for well under $20.00. Coins from Denver and San Francisco appear to be three times as valuable as coins from the Philadelphia Mint, which have no mint mark.

Values for Uncirculated or “Mint State” 1929 Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Uncirculated 1929 one cent pieces are less common than circulated specimens, and values rise quickly as one finds better specimens. Although 1929 had a very high mintage of penny coins, uncirculated coins, especially at grades of MS-66 or MS-67 are not common, and grades higher still are virtually unknown. Pieces command accordingly high prices on those rare occasions when they appear in the market.

Image credit: Heritage Auctions

1929 MS-67 RD Lincoln one cent coin sold in April 2006 for $3,450 at Heritage Auctions. The catalog remark from the time indicated that no better specimens were known, and only 28 other specimens had been given the equivalent grade. The surface was red throughout, with no carbon spots or other marks to discolor the coin.  Similarly, a 1929-S MS-66 RD wheat penny sold in May 2005, for $5,175. The catalog noted that there were only 20 specimens known in this grade for the San Francisco Mint.

One interesting aside from the 2005 auction is worth noting. The catalog reported that a “small hoard” of 1929-S pennies was discovered a decade earlier, but that few, if any, must have graded as well as the coin offered at auction. The interesting point is not that the particular hoard of coins surfaced, but rather the very optimistic notion that a coin, or a hoard of coins, could be discovered at any time, by just about anyone. Who knows what might be found in that dusty old box in the attic?

Perhaps because of the difficulty of finding specimens, enthusiasm has waned over the years. More recent prices don’t seem to reach the levels found in 2005 and 2006.

In October 2023, a 1929 MS-65 RD Lincoln penny sold at Heritage Auctions for $169.00.

Red-Brown coins command lower values than purely red coins of the same grade, and are more frequently met with. In September 2023, two different 1929-S MS-64 RB each sold for $51.00 at Heritage Auctions.

Because of the scarcity involved, and the age of the coins, even brown uncirculated coins can sometimes fetch high values at auction. Brown coins are so described because they have lost their luster, not because they have been worn away through circulation, and it is possible to find oxidized, brown, mint state coins. In May 2023, a 1929-D MS-65 BN sold at Heritage Auctions for $124.00.

Were any 1929 Proof Lincoln Wheat Pennies Produced?

The U.S. Mint produced far fewer proof coins at the start of the Twentieth Century than is common today, and did not combine them into proof sets. After 1916, the Mint stopped issuing proof coins altogether, claiming a lack of interest among collectors and the public. Proof coin minting would not resume until 1936. There are no genuine proof Lincoln wheat pennies minted in 1929.

1929 Penny Error Values

Although the U.S. Mint tries to exert good quality control, over the creation of tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of coins, what seems like a very low percentage of errors can translate into a surprisingly large number of specimens of defective coins. Many collectors seek out these errors and accumulate them as a part of the hobby. Since there is a specialized market, error coins can be quite valuable sometimes. Errors tend to happen in recurring ways during the production process at the mint.

1929-S/S Repunched Mint Mark FS-501 Value

Image credit: Heritage Auctions

Before the 1990s, the U.S. Mint created dies, and then added the mint mark individually to each die, in a separate step of the manufacturing process. To place the mint mark required several strikes from a punch created for the purpose. Occasionally, these would fail to align correctly, leaving two, three or even more mint marks, or shades of mint marks. These could overlap or be quite separate. Unlike many kinds of errors, which happen only by accident on a case by case basis, a repunched mint mark die will leave a defective mint mark on every coin it strikes.

The San Francisco Mint, in 1929, created a repunched mint mark die. The coins which resulted are sought after in the higher grades. In 2023, an MS-65 RD 1929 S/S Lincoln penny sold for $1,500.00 at Heritage Auctions. In 2012, an MS-65 RD 1929-S/S Lincoln coin sold for $2,585.00, also at Heritage Auctions. The catalog described this specimen as a “rare” and “tough to find in any grade,” specimen. It had a minor carbon spot, which reduced its grade slightly.

Broadstrikes and Off-Center Strikes

Broadstrike and off-center strike coins are similar kinds of errors. When a planchet, or blank, enters the dies to be struck and made into a coin, it is supposed to be held in place by a collar designed to keep the coin from becoming too thin and too large. If, for some reason, the planchet isn’t properly in the collar, but still correctly centered, it will be a bit over-sized, and become a broadstrike coin. If the planchet is not correctly centered, only part of the image will be struck on the coin, and this will become an off-center strike.

Off-center strikes are popular with collectors. Coins which show the date and mint mark clearly are especially desirable.

Because a broadstrike or off-center strike coin might move in commerce for some time before being noticed and pulled from circulation by a collector, these error coins can be of any grade. Coins with errors tend to be more valuable than those without, within the same grade.

In October 2012, a 1929-S MS-66 BN wheat penny, struck 15% off center, sold for $646.25 at Heritage Auctions. A similar coin, with no error, might fetch something around $80.00 to $100.00 today. In 2022, a similar coin, graded at MS-62 BN, sold for $115.00 at Heritage Auctions.

Technical Specifications of the 1929 Lincoln Penny

In 1929, the Lincoln one cent design had been in use for twenty years. The design was created in 1909, and introduced to honor the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Theodore Roosevelt, the President at the turn of the century, wanted to improve the appearance of American coinage. He hired private sculptors and engravers to undertake the redesign work. The penny was assigned to Victor D. Brenner, a sculptor from Eastern Europe, who had created a bust of President Roosevelt. Brenner created a profile portrait of Lincoln for the front of the coin, similar to designs which would be used for commemorative medallions, and a pair of semi-abstract wheat stalks for the reverse, enclosing the words “one cent.” The design was instantly popular and has remained in use in some form ever since.

The 1929 Lincoln penny is a bronze coin, made of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. It has a weight of 3.11 grams, and is 19 millimeters in diameter.


At the lower grades, the value of 1929 Lincoln pennies remains affordable for collectors. Uncirculated 1929 Lincoln pennies are scarce, and rarely seem to come up for auction in the higher grades. Collectors wanting to build a collection of higher grade coins may have to settle for coins less highly graded than usual, or wait a long time for something better to come along.