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1952 Lincoln Wheat Penny Value and its Collectible Varieties

1952 Lincoln Wheat Penny Value and its Collectible Varieties

The year 1952 saw the United States confronting the ongoing Korean War. In popular culture, the year would see a number of hit songs, including “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” by Jimmy Boyd, “You Belong to Me,” by Jo Stafford, and Leroy Anderson’s instrumental piece “Blue Tango.” On the newfangled television, “I Love Lucy” was the most popular entertainment show, while “The Today Show,” would begin a morning run on NBC that continues to this day. On Broadway, Leonard Sillman’s revue, “New Faces of 1952” would help launch the musical and comedic careers of Eartha Kitt, Paul Lynde, Alice Ghormley, and Mel Brooks.  Towards the end of the year, Dwight Eisenhower ran for President under the slogan “I Like Ike.” On election day, more voters certainly liked Eisenhower than his opponent, Adlai Stevenson, and he won the race.

In 1952, the three U.S. Mints continued producing Lincoln wheat pennies, in large numbers. Significant quantities remain available for collectors and value is accordingly low.

Production of the 1952 Lincoln Wheat Penny

Beginning in 1950, the Denver Mint produced the most one cent pieces of the three U.S. Mints, and tended to retain this distinction in every year following. The year 1952 was no exception, with Denver producing more than twice as many coins as Philadelphia and San Francisco combined.

MintCoins Struck
Source: Red Book

Values for the 1952 Lincoln Wheat Penny

1952 Penny Value Chart
Good G4Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1952 1C BN$0.20$0.80$3.38$47.25
1952 1C RB$0.90$4.05$61.00
1952 1C RD$2.65$22.95$1,250.00
1952-D 1C BN$0.18$0.40$2.15$47.25
1952-D 1C RB$0.55$4.05$61.00
1952-D 1C RD$0.80$10.80$169.00
1952-S 1C BN$0.20$0.80$3.38$49.95
1952-S 1C RB$0.90$4.05$63.00
1952-S 1C RD$1.35$10.80$156.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

The value of the 1952 Lincoln one cent coin depends upon a variety of factors. The initial production of the coin, in the year it was issued, sets the limits of the supply. Over time, coins may be lost, or destroyed, and, usually, the older a coin is, the scarcer it becomes. Collector interest determines the demand for the coin. Some coins have a certain cachet of popularity; first years of issue and last years of issue frequently attract attention, for example, and this affects value as well. Other coins may be equally scarce or common but less interesting and so less valuable.  To some extent, demand at auction can be idiosyncratic as well; if a collector needs a particular coin to complete a set, then the demand, for that isolated instance, will go up.

Finally, condition affects the value of any coin. Coin collectors and dealers have developed a uniform grading system to describe the condition of all coins, with both a descriptive word and a number. The descriptive word states the condition of the coin and ranges from “Poor,” which is a coin so badly worn as to be barely identifiable, to “Mint State,” or “Uncirculated,” which describes a coin never actually used in commerce. The numbers range from 1 to 70, with higher numbers being more valuable and associated with better descriptive terms.

The Lincoln cent, being a bronze coin, has an additional description used in its grading. Because copper and bronze will tarnish when exposed to air, whether also circulated or not, Lincoln wheat pennies may be described as either “brown,” (BN), “red-brown,” (RB), or “red” (RD).  A brown penny is one which has been exposed to oxidation. It is no longer shiny, although it may be perfectly detailed as an uncirculated specimen. Circulated coins below Mint State are also usually described as brown.

Image credit: PCGS

At the other end of the scale, a “red” coin is one which keeps its original coppery shine, as it was issued from the mint. As a practical matter, there are no circulated red coins; any such have been cleaned, and can be easily detected.

In between, “red-brown” coins maintain some of their original shine, but also have some browning from oxidation.

The value of red coins is higher than the equivalent grade of red-brown coins, or brown coins.

Because of the enormous mintage of 1952 Lincoln wheat pennies, in excess of one billion coins having been made, the value of circulated examples is quite low. All grades of circulated Lincoln cents for that year command a price under forty cents.

The lower grades of mint state coins also command low values. A 1952-D MS-63 RD Lincoln wheat penny can be found for under a dollar. Similar coins from Philadelphia can be found for under three dollars, and those from San Francisco can be found for under a dollar and a half.

At the higher grades, like MS-67, coin values remain quite modest. Brown and red-brown examples of MS-67 coins can be found for between $50 and $65.

The highest graded red coins can sometimes command very significant prices at auction. In 2015, a 1952 MS-67+ RD sold for $6,462.50 at Heritage Auctions.

More recently, on April 30, 2023, a 1952-D Lincoln penny, graded at MS-67+ RD, sold for $3,840.

Were any 1952 Proof Lincoln Wheat Pennies Produced?

The Mint suspended proof coin production in 1942 for the duration of the war. Proof coin production was resumed in 1950. In 1952, the Philadelphia Mint struck 81,980 proof coins. Individual coins of proof grade can be somewhat valuable. Heritage Auctions sold a 1952 PR-64 Lincoln wheat penny for $79.00 in April 2010. In 2007, a 1982 PR-68 sold for $2,530 again at Heritage Auctions.

Error Values for the 1952 Lincoln Wheat Penny

Over Mint Mark Value: The 1952-D/S Lincoln Wheat Penny

Before 1990, the Mint added mint marks to coin dies in a separate manufacturing process. In 1952, at least one die initially was punched with the San Francisco mint mark “S.” after which the Denver mint mark “D” was punched over the top of it. Despite quality control efforts, the die was used for the production of coins, which entered circulation. Similar errors happened in 1951 and 1956. The bottom of the “S” of the San Francisco mint mark, is below (“south”) and a little right (“east”) of the Denver mint mark. The middle of the “S” can be seen inside the hollow portion of the “D.” as well.

Examples of these D/S over mint mark pennies occasionally appear at auction, and error collectors will be interested in them to complete sets.

Image credit: Heritage Auctions

In July 2012, Heritage Auctions sold a 1952-D/S MS-64 RD for $161.00. A similar coin, graded at M-66 RD, sold in January 2016 for $525.00, again at Heritage Auctions. More recently, in April 2023, Heritage Auctions sold a 1952-D/S MS-65 RD for $288.00.

Were there any Lincoln Cent Repunched Mint Marks in 1952

When adding the mint mark to a coin die, the Mint’s manufacturing process called for the die to be punched twice. Ideally, this blow landed in the same spot both times, however, occasionally it did not. This manufacturing defect is called a “repunched mint mark,” and any coin struck with the die carries its mint mark, and the faint outline of one or more mint marks for the same mint. Such errors were not unusual for the Lincoln wheat penny, and instances of repunched mint marks arose in 1953, 1954, 1956, and 1956. No such mistake seems to have happened in 1952, however, and there are no repunched mint mark coins for that year.

Value of Off-center Strikes of 1952 Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Many collectors like to collect errors, and one of the most common kinds of errors is the “off-center strike.” In an off-center strike, the coin blank, or “planchet” fails to enter the die press properly, and is only partly struck. Only part of the image is stamped on the coin, and the final result is both off-center, and no longer round.

The highest values for off-center strikes tend to be among those coins which have both date and mint mark. One example might be this 1952 Lincoln penny, struck off center, and having only a partial date. When the date is missing, one has to rely upon the details supplied by the original collector, or provenance, to supply information about the coin’s age. This particular specimen, graded at MS-63 BN, sold for $144.00 at Heritage Auctions on July 15, 2021.

In June 2023, a Lincoln penny graded as an MS-65 RB, struck 50% off-center, sold for $109.00 at Heritage Auctions.

Lincoln Wheat Penny Struck on Dime Blank Value

A rather unusual error is the Lincoln wheat penny struck on a silver dime planchet. In essence, a number of blanks intended for use in making ten cent pieces were fed into a press set up to make pennies. The resulting coins somehow escaped quality control checks. Two such examples were sold by Heritage Auctions in April 2006. The first had much of the motto, “In God We Trust,” usually found at the top of the one cent piece, obliterated, as the dime is a smaller coin than the penny, and so has less room for the image.  Nevertheless, the coin still fetched $2,760 at auction. The second coin had a much fuller image, and the entire motto was present. It realized $3,450 at auction.

More recently, in 2021, another example of a Lincoln penny struck on a dime planchet, graded MS-63, sold for $2,040.

Double Struck, Brockage and Capped Die Lincoln Penny Values

Occasionally, a coin will not fall from the stamping die properly, and be struck twice. If it moves or spins during that second strike, another, off-center image will appear. Such coins can command significant prices at auction from collectors. A 1952-D MS-63 BN with just such a double, off-center strike, fetched $1,116.75 at Heritage Auctions in June 2017.

A brockage error arises when an already minted coin remains in the press, and strikes a second coin being fed in. Part of the image of the second coin will be normal, while the other portion of the image will be an imprint from the first coin stuck in the die. Mint quality control efforts remove many of these coins before they reach circulation, but specimens still occasionally get through.

A 1952 Lincoln penny, graded AU-55, with a 50% brockage, sold in January 2012, for $138.00.

A capped die error is another variation of the double-struck or brockage error. When coins are struck, the planchet rests on the reverse die, which is stationary, and struck by the obverse die. If a coin sticks to the upper die after striking, this is referred to as a capped die. The die then strikes subsequent planchets, leaving only a faint impression. Eventually the coin stuck to the moving die will fall away, but, potentially, many other coins are struck before this happens.

In November 2020, a 1952 Lincoln penny, MS-63 BN, struck through a capped die sold for $89.00.

Technical Specifications of the 1952 Lincoln Penny

In 1952, the Lincoln wheat penny had been in use for 43 years, with no changes in design. The coin first was minted in 1909, as a way of commemorating the centennial of the birth of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln one cent coin designer, Victor D. Brenner, was a private artist, not affiliated with the U.S. Mint. Brenner had created a sculpture of then-President Theodore Roosevelt. One project close to Roosevelt’s heart was the redesign of American coinage, to introduce more artistic styles. Brenner was hired to redesign the penny. He accordingly created a medallion-style portrait of Lincoln for the obverse, and a stylized pair of wheat stalks for the reverse, enclosing the words “one cent.” A wreath or grain motif was sometimes seen in West European coin design, but was fairly novel for American coinage. The design was highly popular with the American public, and with, limited exceptions for the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, the front of the coin has remained in use ever since, to become the longest running U.S. coin design.

The one cent coin in the United States has always been a bronze coin. The Lincoln penny is made of an alloy of 95% copper, and 5% tin and zinc. It weighs 3.11 grams and has a diameter of 19 millimeters.


Except for spectacular uncirculated specimens at the very highest uncirculated grades, the 1952 Lincoln wheat penny is a coin of very modest value, easily affordable by any collector. This is not surprising, given that the coin was minted in such large numbers.