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Discovering the Value of the 1960 Lincoln Memorial Penny

Discovering the Value of the 1960 Lincoln Memorial Penny

The U.S. Mint struck the 1960 Lincoln penny in enormous numbers, and a collector might be forgiven for thinking that with so many, there is no value to be gained, except from the benefit of having one to complete a collection. The reality is that the issuance of the Lincoln penny in 1960 came with some controversy at the time, which has translated into enduring collector interest.

Production of the 1960 Lincoln Memorial Penny

In 1960, the U.S. Mint made at least some revisions to the production masters, or “hubs” used to create the working dies used to coin pennies. The extent of those changes remains unclear. At the very least, the Mint attempted to introduce a new style to the date, which would eventually become the “small date” variety of the penny. B. J. Neff, writing on the site, documents a more extensive series of changes to the lettering on the dies as well. No correspondence from the Mint or the Treasury explaining the rationale for these changes has come to light.

The new pattern for the date proved to be unsatisfactory. The Director of the Mint, William Brett, claimed that the new style of “0” tended to break from the die, leaving a solid lump of metal where the number should be. Neff challenges this assessment, pointing out that such filled numbers seem comparatively rare, at most, but that there was a specific defective planchet strike that occurred predominantly, if not exclusively, in 1960.

David Bowers, in his guide book on Lincoln pennies, points out that past experiments with a “small date” in the 1930-D penny, and in the 1960 nickel, led to similar unsatisfactory results.

The Mint quickly revised the dies used for penny production in both Philadelphia and Denver, and introduced a second variety, the “large date” type, which was used for dies and production for the remainder of 1960.

1960 Proof1,691,6020
Source: Red Book

While the Mint kept no detailed records of the number of each type struck, Lincoln cent expert David Lange noted that the Philadelphia Mint struck the small-date variety of the Lincoln penny in January 1960. No pennies were struck in February, presumably while the Mint fixed the problems associated with the small-date dies, and then made up for lost time by striking only pennies in March and April to make up the difference. The pennies made in those months, and thereafter, were all of the large-date variety.

Accordingly, Lange suggests that approximately 2,075,000 of the over 586,000,000 Lincoln pennies struck at the Philadelphia Mint were of the small-date variety, and the rest were large-date coins.

When collectors originally discovered the variation between the two styles of Lincoln pennies, in May 1960, the assumption of the time was that the Denver Mint conducted a production run similar to that of Philadelphia, and that the 1960-D small date penny was about as rare as the 1960 small date penny. Although details remain unclear, surviving examples show this was not the case. Current thinking, according to Bowers in his guide book on Lincoln pennies, is that the small date penny dies in Denver were not replaced or reconditioned to the new pattern, but were simply used “as was” until they were worn out. As the small date dies were fully depreciated, they were discarded, like any other coin dies. Small-date penny coinage at Denver may thus have continued into, or even past, the public announcement in May.

Bowers estimates that approximately 30% of the mintage number for Denver is the small date pattern, and the remaining 70% of the coins are of the large date.

How Much Are 1960 Lincoln Memorial Pennies Worth?

The discovery of two different date varieties for Lincoln Memorial pennies, which had only been introduced in 1959, caused a furor among collectors. Mint Director Brett did little to help the situation, by initially denying that there was any distinction, by stating that coin dies are all created from the same master hub. Brett later corrected this statement, acknowledging the two different varieties, but speculating that there would be no collectible value in the less common variety.

1960 Penny Value Chart
Business Strike
Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1960 1C Large Date RD$4.05$6.75$585.00
1960 1C Small Date RD$4.05$6.75$338.00
1960-D 1C Large Date RD$1.10$4.05$488.00
1960-D 1C Small Date RD$4.05$8.10$169.00
Proof Strike
1960 1C Large Date RD$13.50$20.25$122.00
1960 1C Large Date CAM$20.20$33.75$195.00
1960 1C Large Date DCAM$74.00$292.00$1,880.00
1960 1C Small Date RD$27.00$40.50$390.00
1960 1C Small Date CAM$40.50$61.00$585.00
1960 1C Small Date DCAM$122.00$520.00$1,940.00
1960 1C Large/Small Date RD$234.00$585.00$1,380.00
1960 1C Small/Large Date RD$442.00$1,310.00
1960 1C Small/Large Date CAM$650.00$1,880.00
1960 1C Small/Large Date DCAM$910.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Values for 1960 Pennies

1960 1C Large Date, RD
Image credit: PCGS

The 1960 small date penny is much less common than the large date variety, and is therefore the key coin for collectors for this year. Because the two varieties were discovered almost at once, collectors quickly removed almost all of the small date coins from circulation, and held on to them for investment.

Excellent, well-struck uncirculated specimens of the 1960 small date penny are readily available in the marketplace. Circulated specimens, paradoxically, are comparatively scarce, but aren’t as highly sought by collectors. As with other comparatively recent uncirculated coins, strike quality varies, so a prospective purchaser should be patient, and hunt for the best example possible within the budget, rather than simply chase the grading points.

The 1960 large date penny is much more common for both circulating and proof coinage. Because so many 1960 large date pennies were struck, only the very best uncirculated specimens will have much value for collectors. Very nice, sharply struck examples are easy to find, and a collector can easily wait for just the right coin to reach the market, rather than simply taking the first coin to come along.

Uncirculated 1960 Lincoln pennies have similar values at the lower grades. A 1960 Lincoln penny, graded MS-60 RD, should cost around $2.65, whether small or large date. Similarly, 1960 pennies graded MS-63 RD should cost about $4.05, again, whether small or large date. Very nice 1960 pennies, graded at MS-65 RD, should cost about $6.75 whether for small or large date.

At the very highest grades, the price of 1960 pennies begins to rise considerably. Paradoxically, because large date pennies were left in circulation, the number of really outstanding uncirculated specimens is somewhat low. Prices for collectors are correspondingly high. A 1960 small date penny, graded MS-67 RD should cost just under $350 when one appears on the market, but a 1960 large date penny of the same grade may cost $600 or more.

Values for 1960-D Pennies

1960-D 1C Large Date, RD
Image credit: PCGS

The 1960-D small date penny is more common than the 1960 small date penny.

The 1960-D large date penny is far and away the most common of the penny varieties struck in the year. The very best uncirculated coins have some value; circulated coins are simply worth their face value. Many fine, well-struck specimens exist, as do many poorly struck specimens, so careful selection pays off.

Collectors should expect to pay about $0.60 for a 1960-D large date penny graded MS-60 RD. A similar 1960-D penny with a small date should cost about $2.65.

Other uncirculated 1960-D pennies also remain highly affordable. 1960-D pennies graded MS-63 RD should cost about $1.10 for a large date penny, and $4.05 for a small date penny. Very nice 1960-D pennies, graded MS-65 RD, should cost about $4.05 for a large date penny and $8.10 for a small date penny.

High grade uncirculated 1960-D pennies can command high prices. Again, in a seeming paradox, really high grade 1960-D large date pennies are not common. A 1960-D small date penny, graded MS-67 RD, can cost about $175. A similar 1960-D large date penny can cost as much as $500.

Values for 1960 Proof Pennies

1960 1C Large Date, DCAM (Proof)
Image credit: PCGS

In 1960, the Philadelphia Mint handled striking proof coins. As with coins intended for circulation, both small date and large date dies were used for striking proof coins. Bower estimates that about 170,000 small date proof pennies were struck. While this is a tiny fraction, both of the proof penny mintage, and of penny production overall for 1960, the number is still enough to meet the needs of collectors.

While proof coins remain commonly available for the 1960 penny, cameo and deep cameo proofs are less common. Fine specimens are readily available at reasonable prices. A 1960 large date proof penny, graded PR-67, not cameo finished, can be found at auction for as little as $14. A similar coin, with deep cameo finish, sells for perhaps three or four times that amount, around $50.

1960 Lincoln Memorial Penny Varieties

Spotting the Difference Between Small Date and Large Date Lincoln Pennies

1960 1C Small Date vs Large Date
Image credit: PCGS

Because much of the value of the 1960 Lincoln penny hinges on the distinction between the “small date” and “large date” variations, a collector should be able to spot the difference on sight. Examine the date, 1960, closely under magnification. A small date Lincoln penny has the top of the 1 and the top of the 9 rising to the same level. On a large date penny, the top of the 9 is higher than the top of the 1.

How Much Are 1960 Lincoln Penny Varieties Worth?

With all of the production confusion at the Mint surrounding the large and small date varieties, it should be no surprise that there are a number of variations and varieties as well, beyond the simple difference between small and large date pattern. Many of these varieties are found among the proof coins.

All three variations of the proof coin were made by repunching existing small date dies on new large date hubs. More than one die was reconfigured in this way, and at least three varieties have been cataloged by Fivaz and Stanton. Bowers, in his guidebook to pennies, states his belief that the total number of proof coins affected appears to be between 15,000 and 20,000.

Value of the 1960 Lincoln Proof Penny Variety FS-101

1960 Lincoln proof penny variety FS-101
Image credit: Cherrypickers’ Guide

This variety is known by its Fivaz-Stanton number FS-01-1960-101, and is technically a doubled die obverse, though it is often referred to as a “large date over small date proof.” The doubling appears in the date, as well as in the letters “BERTY” in the word “Liberty.” It is one of three known proof penny varieties for 1960.

Even impaired 1960 penny proofs can have value, if of this variety. In 2014, a coin of this type graded AU-55, managed to sell for $65. A nicer specimen, still showing its proof luster, sold for $193 in the same year.

Value of the 1960 Lincoln Proof Penny Variety FS-102

1960 Lincoln proof penny variety FS-102
Image credit: Cherrypickers’ Guide

The second variety is known by its Fivaz-Stanton number FS-01-1960-102, and is also referred to as a “small date over large date proof.” The date is doubled. The letters “BER” in the word “Liberty” are also doubled, as is the lettering in the motto “In God We Trust.”  This can be a very valuable and very expensive variety. In 2018, a penny of this variety sold for $1,140 at auction.

Value of the 1960 Lincoln Proof Penny Variety FS-103

1960 Lincoln proof penny variety FS-103
Image credit: Cherrypickers’ Guide

The third variety is known by its Fivaz-Stanton number FS-01-1960-103. Like the other two varieties, it is referred to as a large date over small date proof” variety, but is also a doubled die. Like the other two varieties, the doubling appears in the word “Liberty” and the motto “In God We Trust.” Unlike the other two varieties, FS-103 has a tripled date.

In November 2023, an example of this variety, graded PR-68, sold for $312 at Heritage Auctions.

Value of the 1960-D Penny Variety FS-1960D-101

1960-D penny variety FS-1960D-101
Image credit: Cherrypickers’ Guide

This particular variety is both a doubled die and a repunched mint mark. It is known by its FS catalog number FS-01-1960D-101. The doubling of the date shows a small date over the large date. The mint mark is also repunched, with the second, major “D” being directly below and slightly right of the first, very faint, original “D.”

Bowers suggests that this variety had only a small run, and is far from common. Nevertheless, prices for lower grade uncirculated examples remain within reach. In April 2023, a 1960-D penny variant of this type, graded MS-64 RD sold for $89 at Heritage Auctions. A similar coin, without the repunched mintmark and doubled die, would have sold for less than $10. A somewhat nice example, of the same grade, sold for $149 in November 2023. At the higher end of grading, a 1960-D penny of this type, graded MS-66+ RD, sold for $5,040 in November 2023.

Technical Specifications of the 1960 Lincoln Memorial Penny

The year 1960 marked the second year of the new Lincoln Memorial penny. While the original obverse introduced in 1909 remained the same, a new reverse design, created by Frank Gasparro, featured the Lincoln Memorial. Like its predecessor, the wheat penny, the Lincoln Memorial penny has a weight of 3.11 g and a diameter of 19 mm.


The 1960 Lincoln Memorial penny was struck in huge numbers, and many examples survive. Collectors simply wanting a specimen to round out a collection will have no problem finding many nice choices. Tracking down all of the proof varieties could prove expensive, and challenging for more advanced collectors. Patience and a good eye for detail will be rewarded if a collector wishes to pursue that route.