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Discovering the Value of the 1963 Lincoln Memorial Penny

Discovering the Value of the 1963 Lincoln Memorial Penny

The 1963 Lincoln penny is a coin which was struck in enormous numbers by the U.S. Mint. Except for the very highest levels of quality, and some odd die varieties, the coin is readily available. Beginning collectors seeking to fill up a penny book with a circulated coin will have no problem finding several nice choices simply by scouring coin rolls and pocket change.  More advanced collectors seeking uncirculated varieties will also have no difficulty in meeting their needs. Two doubled die varieties exist, and these may pose some expense, if not some scarcity challenge, for specialists.

Production of the 1963 Lincoln Penny

The 1960’s saw a general boom in the numismatic field, as promoters touted coins as an “investment.” Many individuals hoarded rolls of coins both circulated and uncirculated, purchased at banks to the extent that some local shortages developed. Compounding the problem, a misalignment of silver prices and coin weights led some to melt silver coins, and resell the resulting bullion at a higher price. The U.S. Mint would take steps to combat these problems beginning in 1964.

When the boom in coin rolls collapsed, many of the hoarded coins were simply returned to circulation.

Against this backdrop, the Philadelphia and Denver Mints produced, between them, over 2.5 billion pennies in 1963. The San Francisco Mint produced no Lincoln pennies in this year.

DatePhiladelphiaDenverSan Francisco
1963 Proof3,075,64500
Source: Red Book

How Much Are 1963 Lincoln Pennies Worth?

With so many coins minted, a run-of-the-mill 1963 penny will have only its face value, of one cent. Increased value can be found only at the highest grades of uncirculated Lincoln pennies, in 1963, as well as in proof coins and errors. Beginning collectors looking to fill out a penny book can still find nice examples simply by a systematic search of pocket change and coin rolls purchased at a bank.

The best quality red mint-state 1963 pennies may have considerable value. Under such circumstances, grading becomes important. The same grading points used to evaluate the obverse of a Lincoln wheat penny can be used to evaluate a Lincoln Memorial penny, and there are many good references available to assist collectors.

In addition to grading based on wear, collectors should look for the sharpness of detail in the coin, called the “strike.” In 1963, the quality of the strike of Lincoln pennies was highly variable, but often mediocre. Details were no longer sharp, but indistinct, even on brand-new coins.

By 1963, the obverse design of the Lincoln penny had been in use for over half a century. The dies used to strike coins are created by the U.S. Mint from master or “hub” dies. These could potentially remain in use for a long period of time, as the Mint needed only to add the date and mint mark. Over time, with each striking of a new set of production dies, the hub die gradually deteriorated, losing detail, which was reflected in lower quality in the coins that ultimately emerged. Coins struck from a production die early in its life cycle will tend to show more detail than those struck later, as the die wore out over time. All coins struck later in the series, when the master hub was similarly worn, show less detail than those struck early in the series, when everything was fresh and new.

At least one commentator, David Lange, has suggested that some of the decline in quality in Lincoln pennies in the 1960’s came not only from deteriorating master hubs, but from poor quality planchets.

1936 Penny Value Chart
Business StrikeGrade
Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1936 1C RD$1.10$4.05$520.00
1936-D 1C RD$1.10$5.40
Proof StrikeGrade
1936 1C RD$9.45$16.20$20.25
1936 1C CAM$13.50$21.60$37.80
1936 1C DCAM$16.20$27.00$40.50
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Values for 1963 Pennies

Image credit: PCGS

Brown and red-brown circulated and uncirculated grades of the 1963 Lincoln penny should not be thought of as having any special premium above face-value. They routinely remain in circulation sixty years after their mintage, though they may no longer be as common as before.

A collector should be able to purchase an uncirculated 1963 Lincoln penny, graded MS-63 RD, for $1.10 from a coin dealer. A mid-range uncirculated 1963 penny, graded MS-65 RD, should cost about $4. Nicer coins, graded MS-66 and higher, can cost somewhat more. A 1963 Lincoln penny, graded MS-66 RD, sold at auction in November 2023 for $67. A 1963 Lincoln penny graded MS-66+ RD sold at the same auction for $480. In April 2023, a 1963 penny graded MS-67 RD sold for $504.  However, against the trend, a 1963 penny graded MS-67 RD sold in October 2023 for much less, bringing only $288, but perhaps the sharpness of the strike, or lack of it, detracted from the bidding.

Values for 1963-D Pennies

Image credit: PCGS

The same parameters for evaluating 1963 Lincoln pennies from Philadelphia apply to 1963-D pennies, which are even more common. Brown and red-brown coins, of any grade, should not be considered as having more than face value. The sharpness of the strike varies across the year, and really outstanding examples with fine detail are rare.

An uncirculated 1963-D penny, graded MS-63 RD, should be routinely available for $1.10 from a coin dealer. Coins graded at MS-65 RD should cost between $5 and $6. Higher grade uncirculated coins can be more expensive. A 1963-D Lincoln penny, graded MS-66 RD sold for $89 in April 2023. A nicer specimen of 1963-D penny, graded MS-66+ RD, sold for $480 in November 2023 at Heritage Auctions.

Values for 1963 Proof Pennies

Image credit: PCGS

The Philadelphia Mint struck over 3,000,000 proof Lincoln pennies in 1963. The grading service PCGS estimates that about 950,000 of these survive in all conditions. With so many coins surviving, collectors should have no difficulty in finding examples, either individually, or as part of the original proof set sold by the U.S. Mint.

At lower grades, of PR-60 to PR-63, a buyer should expect to pay about $0.50 for a non-cameo proof 1963 penny. Non-cameo proof pennies of higher grades are also moderately priced. A buyer can reasonably expect to find an ordinary proof penny graded PR-65 for about $1.50. Non-cameo 1963 proof pennies graded PR-67 can be found for under $20, while highly graded non-cameo pennies rated at PR-69 can be found for between $50 and $60.

Pennies with a cameo finish are less common, and more expensive, but still affordable. A PR-64 CAM 1963 penny should cost $1.50, while coins graded PR-67 CAM should be available for a little more than $20. Even high grade coins, rated at PR-69 CAM, should cost under $100.

Deep cameo proof finishes are much less common on coins, and highly sought after by collectors. A 1963 proof penny graded MS-66 and with a deep cameo finish might sell for about $20, while a higher graded MS-67 DCAM 1963 penny could sell for $30.00. The highest graded deep cameo pennies can sell for hundreds of dollars at auction.  In November 2023, a 1963 Lincoln penny, graded PR-69 DCAM sold at auction for $504.

Auction houses may combine an individual 1963 proof penny with some other coins, either to build up a proof set out of individual elements, or to create a set of proof pennies from different years. Collectors seeking to fill out a proof penny collection might look at these combinations as a way of seeking value, taking out the coin of choice, and selling or swapping the remainder on. As an example, in September 2023, Heritage Auctions sold a 1963 penny, graded PR-69 CAM, and a 1964 penny, graded PR-69 CAM, for $154. A single 1963 penny, at that grade, should cost about $90.

How Much Are 1963 Lincoln Penny Errors and Varieties Worth?

Value for the 1963-D Doubled Die Obverse Variety

Image credit: Heritage Auctions

This die variety of penny, referred to as FS-01-1963D-101 shows a very faint doubling, which manifests clearly in the “3” of the date. The secondary digit appears inside the lower curve of the numeral. The middle “prong” of the second “3” appears in the lower portion of the main numeral, while the “tail” of the second “3” appears and dips below the main “3.”

This variety is common and easily available in any grade and in large quantities. A buyer should quickly and easily be able to find many nice 1963-D pennies to choose from, and a seller may have a difficult time moving a specimen of anything less than outstanding quality.

In April 2023, a 1963-D doubled die obverse Lincoln penny graded MS-64+ sold for $79 at Heritage Auctions. In November 2023, another 1963-D doubled die obverse Lincoln penny graded MS-65 RD sold for $139.

Value for 1963 Proof Doubled Die Reverse Variety

In 1963, a doubled reverse die was used to strike proof pennies. These specimens, referred to in catalogs as FS-801 to distinguish from the variety described above, are especially valuable coins and can fetch good prices in the marketplace. In May 2023, a 1963 Lincoln proof cent, graded PR-67 RD, doubled die reverse, sold for $1,260 at Heritage Auctions. In November 2023, another 1963 Lincoln proof cent, graded PR-68 and doubled die reverse, sold for $720.

Off-Center Strikes, Broadstrikes and Other Errors of 1963 Lincoln Pennies

A clipped edge error can occur when the machine which creates coin blanks strikes the edge of the sheet of bronze used as raw material. If the defective blank falls through the screens used to catch errors, it might then go on through the minting process. These defects are sought by specialized collectors. In June 2023, a 40% ragged clipped edge 1963 penny, graded MS-64 RB sold for $159 at auction.

A somewhat unusual error coin, perhaps not technically a penny, but worth mentioning, is this 1963-D Jefferson nickel, struck on a Lincoln penny planchet. The coin, graded MS-63 BN, shows most of the motto and all of the word “Liberty,” as well as the date. Dimes, which are smaller, struck on penny planchets seem to be the more common mistake of this type.

Technical Specifications of the 1963 Lincoln Penny

By 1963, the new reverse of the one cent piece had been in use for 4 years, and the overall design of the Lincoln penny had been in use for 54 years. The original wheat penny design had first been introduced in 1909, for the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The designer of the coin, Victor D. Brenner, was a sculptor and medallion engraver, who had sculpted a bust of the sitting President, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was very interested in artistic matters, and wished to upgrade the appearance of American coinage. Brenner accordingly designed a portrait of Lincoln for the obverse, and a stylized pair of wheat stalks for the reverse, enclosing the value of “one cent.” The design was immediately popular and has become the longest running U.S. coin design.

The 1963 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.


The 1963 Lincoln penny is very common, and was minted in large numbers. Because of its enormous supply, only the very highest quality coins have anything more than face value. Collectors thinking of purchasing higher grade uncirculated 1963 pennies should be careful and attentive to such matters as grading, but also consider intangible issues like aesthetics, the quality of the strike, and eye appeal.