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Discovering the Value of the 1957 Lincoln Wheat Penny

Discovering the Value of the 1957 Lincoln Wheat Penny

As in the year before, the 1957 wheat penny was churned out by the U.S. Mint in extraordinary numbers. Many of the surviving coins remain in outstanding condition, and are commonly available at all grade levels. Individual 1957 wheat pennies are not really valuable, and most of the circulated grades of coin can be purchased for less than a quarter-dollar. The lower grades of mint-state or uncirculated wheat penny can also be found at inexpensive prices. Collectors will have an abundance of choice and can find the perfect coin for their collection with a little patience. Higher grades of uncirculated wheat penny are more valuable and harder to find.

Production of the 1957 Lincoln Wheat Penny

In 1957, the U.S. Mint operated only two branches. The main mint, located in Philadelphia, was now eclipsed by the branch mint in Denver, which produced over a billion wheat pennies for circulation. The Philadelphia mint produced over a million proof sets for collectors, in addition to the wheat pennies produced for circulation. Coin collectors constituted a growing and active hobby, and many sought to create collections of Lincoln wheat pennies.

DatePhiladelphiaDenverSan Francisco
1957 Proof1,247,93200
Source: Red Book

How Much Are 1957 Wheat Pennies Worth?

With one and a quarter billion pennies, and more, struck in 1957, and an active, engaged set of coin collectors and investors determined to build and preserve collections, large numbers of wheat pennies survive, and are available in a wide range of conditions. Many high-grade wheat pennies exist for the year, and aer available to collectors at quite modest prices.

1957 Penny Value Chart
Business StrikeGrade
Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1957 1C BN$0.40$2.15$47.25
1957 1C RB$0.55$4.05$61.00
1957 1C RD$0.80$10.80$1,180.00
1957-D 1C BN$0.40$2.15$47.25
1957-D 1C RB$0.55$4.05$61.00
1957-D 1C RD$0.80$10.80$390.00
Proof StrikeGrade
1957 1C RD$2.90$33.75$228.00
1957 1C CAM$20.25$143.00$845.00
1957 1C DCAM$455.00$2,810.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Values for 1957 Pennies

1957 1C, BN
Image credit: PCGS

The 1957 wheat penny is readily available at all grade levels. In general, the pennies coined in 1957 have sharp details and were well-struck. Because of their easy availability, 1957 wheat pennies are not especially valuable. Circulated coins, ranging from Good to About-Uncirculated, can all be found easily in coin dealers’ shops or at coin shows for prices under $0.25.

Uncirculated coins at the lower mint-state grades, below MS-63, are also quite common and can be purchased for under $1, with MS-63 BN wheat pennies selling for under $0.50. Mid-ranges of uncirculated coins, graded between MS-63 and MS-65, are also easily available and quite inexpensive. Coins graded at MS-65 BN sell for a little over $2, while very nice coins, graded MS-65 RD sell for a bit over $10.

Only at the very highest grades, of MS-67 or better, do 1957 wheat pennies begin to become expensive. Ordinary brown coins, graded MS-67 BN, might be found for under $50. The very best red examples can sell for huge sums. In December 2022, a 1957 wheat penny, graded MS-67+ RD sold for $20,400 at Heritage Auctions. The auction notes stated that no higher graded examples were known, and very few coins held the same grade. More modest wheat pennies, still rated MS-67 RD, fetch lower prices. In August 2022, a 1957 wheat penny graded MS-67 RD sold for $2,160 at auction.

Values for 1957-D Pennies

1957-D 1C, RD
Image credit: PCGS

The 1957-D wheat penny is very common at all circulated and uncirculated grade levels. Many wheat pennies from Denver in 1957 are well-struck and very sharp in their details. Very occasionally, in an otherwise sharp strike, the letter “O” in “One Cent” is weak, but the remainder of the strike is quite good.  A collector can easily find many outstanding examples at any grade level with a little persistent digging,

Although 1957 wheat pennies from Denver are approximately four or five times more common than those from Philadelphia, prices for both remain highly similar. Circulated 1957-D wheat pennies sell for about the same price as 1957 pennies. Circulated 1957-D wheat pennies range in price from $0.18 to $0.25 whether Good to About Uncirculated.

Uncirculated 1957-D wheat pennies are also similarly priced to 1957 pennies from Philadelphia. The lower grades of mint-state, uncirculated coins, below MS-63, can easily be purchased for under $1 at coin shops or coin shows. Mid-range uncirculated 1957 wheat pennies, whether from Denver or Philadelphia, graded MS-64 to MS-66 also tend to fetch the same prices.

Only at grades of MS-67 RD do 1957-D wheat pennies tend to become scarce. In December 2022, a 1957-D wheat penny, graded MS-67+ RD sold at auction for $6,600. The auction notes indicated that besides a wonderful sharp strike and outstanding color, only a few tiny “microscopic” defects could be found on Lincoln’s shoulder. Only 12 1957-D wheat pennies held a grade of MS-67+, and no better examples were known. In June 2021, another 1957-D wheat penny, with the identical grade, sold for $3,480. In April 2020, a similar coin, also graded MS-67+ RD sold for $3,120 at auction.

Do Any 1957-S Pennies Exist?

In 1955, the U.S. Mint ceased using the San Francisco Mint for coin production. While the San Francisco Mint had a reasonably new building, constructed only twenty years before, no similar effort had been undertaken to modernize or upgrade the production methods or equipment. Instead of repairing the obsolescence of the San Francisco Mint, the Treasury undertook to upgrade the Denver and Philadelphia facilities. The Treasury had no plans to reopen the San Francisco Mint, and production there would cease until 1968. In that year, the San Francisco facility began striking proof coins. In addition, the San Francisco Mint occasionally struck circulating coins until 1974.

Since the San Francisco Mint was closed in 1957, no coins were struck there, and no genuine 1957-S wheat pennies exist.

Values for 1957 Proof Wheat Pennies

1957 1C, DCAM
Image credit: PCGS

In 1957, the Philadelphia mint struck 1,247,950 proof wheat pennies for sale to the public and to collectors. The Mint no longer offered individual proof coins for sale, but instead offered proof sets consisting of one of each type of coin offered for circulation. Thus, the mintage figure for each kind of coin from penny to half dollar should be the same in any given year.

Given such a large number of proof coins minted, they remain relatively easy to come by today. Many remain in the original sets; other sets were broken up and the individual coins parceled out into collections. Cameo proof wheat pennies, and deep cameo wheat pennies are somewhat harder to find in the marketplace. In the 1950s, the Mint did not set out to strike cameo or deep cameo coins purposefully. Instead, such cameo proofs as appeared arose from imperfectly polished dies, placed into service, which made uneven proof surfaces. The dies then effectively “self-polished” through repetitive use.

Because of the accidental rarity with which cameos were struck in the 1950’s, cameo and deep cameo examples of proof wheat pennies can be quite expensive when they appear on the market.

In February 2021, a 1957 proof wheat penny, graded PR-68 DCAM sold for $2,520 at auction. In December 2022, a 1957 proof wheat penny, graded PR-68 and showing ordinary cameo features, sold for $312. More recently, in January 2024, a similar coin with an identical grade, sold for $192. In contrast, ordinary proof coins are much less valuable. In September 2023, a 1957 proof wheat penny, graded PR-68, with no cameo features, sold for $85 at Heritage Auction.

How Much Are 1957 Wheat Penny Varieties and Errors Worth?

Values of 1957-D Wheat Penny Repunched Mint Marks.

Repunched mint marks arise in the manufacturing process for coin dies. Until relatively recently, the U.S. Mint added the date and the mint mark in separate manufacturing steps when creating coin dies. During the manufacturing process, an engraver took a special punch, containing the mint mark, and struck the die several times with it. Ideally, the blows landed in the same place each time, but if they did not, separate images would be created, leaving two or more distinct mint marks. Any coin made with the defective die would also carry this image.

A number of 1957-D repunched mint marks exist. However, unlike the repunched mint marks for wheat pennies in other years, these do not appear to be well-studied, and no major following has grown up among collectors for any of them. None of these are cataloged in the main reference on the subject by Bil Fivaz and J.T. Stanton.  In addition, neither Heritage Auctions nor Stack Bowers list any of the varieties as lots in recent auctions. The best practice would be to examine any 1957-D mint mark with a hand lens or loupe to see whether the coin in question is a repunched mint mark. Assigning additional value to such specimens would be highly speculative in the absence of regular market sales data.

Values of Off-Center Strikes of 1957 Lincoln Wheat Pennies

1957 1C Struck 70% Off Center
Image credit: Heritage Auctions

An off-center strike arises when the coin planchet, fails to rest properly in the coining press. The die striking the coin leaves only a partial image, while the rest of the planchet remains blank. While the Mint tries to remove as many such defective coins as possible, in a coin run of over a billion pennies, even a tiny percentage of errors creates a large number overall. Specialized collectors seek out these error coins, placing special emphasis on examples which have both a date and a mint mark, and such coins can often sell for more than ordinary coins without defects.

In June 2023, a 1957 wheat penny, struck 70% off center, and graded at MS-63 BN, sold for $124 at Heritage Auctions. In January 2022, another 1957 wheat penny, struck 80% off center and graded at MS-63 RD, sold for $71 at auction. Had they been correctly struck both coins would have sold for less than $1 each.

Also in January 2022, a pair of coins, a 1957-D wheat penny, struck 85% off center, and subsequently cleaned, but still graded MS-60, and a 1958-D penny, struck 60% off center and damaged by a counting machine, sold for $104 at auction. Once again, normal coins from either year would have sold for less than $0.50 each.

In March 2023, a very nice 1957-D wheat penny graded MS-63 RD, struck 90% off center, and consisting of little more than a date, a mint mark, and a tiny portion of Lincoln’s bust, sold for $174. The same coin would be found in any coin shop for about $0.80, if normally struck.

Technical Specifications of the 1957 Wheat Penny

By 1957, the design of the Lincoln wheat penny had been in constant use for nearly a half century, having first been introduced in 1909, in honor of the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln penny was part of a larger project to redesign American coinage instituted at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, who sought a more artistic appearance for the coins.

The designer of the wheat penny, Victor D. Brenner, came to Roosevelt’s attention when Brenner sculpted a bust of the President. The design of the wheat penny was similar to medallions engraved by Brenner for public or private commissions.

The Lincoln wheat penny was an instant success among the American public, and was the first American circulating coin to depict a historical person. By 1957, the design had already lasted longer than most other American coin designs. It would be heavily revised two years later, with the introduction of a new reverse, depicting the Lincoln Memorial to replace the wheat wreath on the original.

Despite this change, the front of the coin was not changed, but retained the bust of Lincoln. The obverse remained constant until some changes in the early part of the 2000s to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Lincoln.  Because of this enduring use, the Lincoln penny has become the longest running coin design in American history, and one of the longest running coin designs in the world.

The 1957 wheat penny is a bronze coin, made of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. It weighs 3.11 grams, and has a diameter of 19 millimeters.


The 1957 wheat penny, surviving in huge numbers after a massive strike of over a billion coins, is not an especially valuable coin. Collectors will find any number of excellent pennies to choose from at very inexpensive price points. At the same time, there remains some element of mystery about the pennies struck in that year. Unlike other years, the die varieties of the 1957-D wheat penny have not been cataloged or explored in systematic detail. The varieties do not currently have any established market, and no extra value has yet been ascribed to them. Collectors with a sharp eye can begin looking for these varieties in anticipation that someone, sooner or later, will systematically catalog them and begin collecting them. Numismatics remains an active field, and new discoveries are being made all the time.