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1965 Penny Value Plus Grading and Errors

1965 Penny Value Plus Grading and Errors

For a decade remembered as a time of free love, the 1960s are also noted for civil disobedience and the admonishment to “Question authority.” As the mid-sixties arrived, the US Treasury showed no love for coin collectors, whom they blamed for a rash of coin hoarding leading to shortages. Coin collectors questioned new US Mint policies, including a vast production run of nearly 6 billion pennies dated 1964.

As for the 1965 Lincoln penny, collectors had a long wait until the 1964 coins were finished! Back then, you could get plenty of things for a penny, from a gumball to a pencil, and there were no debit cards – people paid in cash. Demand was astronomical.

Perhaps the US Mint was right; coin collecting was popular, Lincoln pennies had a terrific luster at the time, and people appreciated beauty. Why not save some of those elegant gems?

The good news is that some wonderful condition coins still exist from 1965; occasionally, you can find them in circulation. And as hard as the Mint tried to create perfect strikes, errors occurred when minting tens of thousands of coins with multiple presses per minute.

Collectors universally treasure beautiful mint-condition coins, but there’s a growing interest in error coins, including some dated 1965. They, too, hold high resale value. To better understand the 1965 penny value, read on for some cool facts about the pennies, the best coins to collect, conditions, and grading of perfect and imperfect specimens.

1965 Lincoln Penny Specifics and US Mint Secrets

The Lincoln penny is the most heavily minted coin in standard circulation. The three US Mints produced about a billion pennies yearly in the early ‘50s and nearly three billion in 1965.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Mint, operating since 1854 to handle gold coinage after the precious metal was discovered in large supply at Sutter’s Mill in California along the South Fork American River, ceased producing circulating coinage with the distinctive “S” mint mark from 1955 until 1968.

A secret that collectors didn’t know at the time was with the US Mints so far behind schedule – and hellbent on avoiding highly collectible coins – nearly half of the 1964 coins were struck in 1965. And with the number reaching three billion, almost no 1965-dated coins were struck until 1966.

According to the Report of the Director of the Mint dated 1981, of the 301,470,000 pennies struck in Philadelphia and dated 1965, only 1,085,000 were made that year. All the rest of the total 1,494,864,900 coins were produced in 1966. In addition, 2,360,000 Special Mint Sets were made with no mint mark but dated 1965 and struck in 1966. Sneaky!

The Lincoln penny was the first coin to depict an actual person. It was released in 1909 with a profile of President Abraham Lincoln to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birthdate in 1809. The reverse, or back of the coin, had wheat stalks, and the coin was subsequently referred to as a wheat penny.

In 1959, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth, the coin’s reverse was changed to a depiction of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. On bright coins with minor wear, the statue of Lincoln in the middle of the Memorial can be seen.

The 1965 Lincoln pennies are mostly well-struck, adding strong relief to their profile, and the designers should be commended for their earlier efforts along with those of the tool and die experts.

Other US Mint Secrets

In addition to the massive number of coins made for national circulation, the US Mint produced coins for 43 nations through 1984, including Canada, France, and Mexico. During the years of minting, over 11 billion coins were made in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and New Orleans—no wonder the mint sometimes had to finish US coins a year later than they were dated.

Another secret you might not know is that early colonists in what became the United States used a mixture of foreign and domestically made coins for commerce, including German thalers and the British pound. A favorite coin was the Spanish milled dollar, a silver coin that could be cut into pieces to make change.

If you have ever heard the term two-bits in reference to a quarter (“two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar”’), the splitting of an existing coin is where it comes from.

As for the US, there was no national mint until 1792, and because of confusion between states and their minted coins, Congress authorized “national” copper cents. Although Fugio cents were produced in 1787, the Mint issued the nation’s first coins for regular circulation on March 1, 1793. The copper penny mintage totaled 11,178 coins, far from the 1,499,584,900 Lincoln pennies dated 1965.

Of those pennies, many remain in beautiful condition, and the design of the Lincoln penny, with the original wheat stalk reverse and the memorial reverse, is still revered in the collecting community.

1965 Lincoln Penny Details

Obverse designer: Victor D. Brenner

Reverse designer: Frank Gasparro

US Mint Facilities: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco

Metal Composition: 95% copper, 5% zinc

Edge: Smooth – Plain

Coin Weight: 3.11 grams

Diameter: 19.00 mm

Thickness: 1.52 mm

1965 Penny Value

The 1965 Penny Value has risen steadily over the years. The fact that many coins were struck notwithstanding, even those in cull or poor condition are worth at least two cents each. That’s because they contain 2.9545 grams of copper. When the price of copper hovers at $4 per pound, the copper value alone is over 2.5 cents. Don’t get caught melting them, though; it’s against the law!

 In the late 1950s, as silver prices rose, the US Treasury considered changing our national coinage of dimes, quarters, and half dollars from the 990% silver they contained. That change came in 1965, with dimes and quarters made of 80% copper and 20% nickel and the new half dollars retaining 40% silver.

As for the 1965 Lincoln penny, coins in all conditions are worth collecting, with those above extra-fine and reaching mint state being the most valuable. Our 1965 Penny Value Chart shows multiple high-condition values, but remember, there were no mint marks!

1965 Penny Value Chart
Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1965 1c BN$0.75$2.50$7.50
1965 1c RB$2.50$7.50
1965 1c RD$5.00$15.00$175.00

As always, the higher a coin’s condition is found, the higher its value will be.

Lincoln Penny Grading and Colors

Coin collecting guides have been available since the 1940s, and the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale arrived in 1949. Although changed slightly, it is still the official 70-point system used by the American Numismatic Association (ANA).

The lowest end of the scale, “1,” represents a coin that is clear enough to identify, although the date may be worn smooth. As the numbers increase from “2” for fair, coins are graded as increasing qualities of Good and Fine until “50” is reached.

AU50 is About Uncirculated or Almost Uncirculated, with only traces of wear seen on the coin’s highest points, and at least half of the coin’s original mint luster is still evident.

These Lincoln coins should have only slight wear on less than half the coin’s design but can have a bit of loss of full detail on high spots such as his beard, hair, or ear.  

Choice Uncirculated is considered AU55 when three-quarters of the original luster remains and AU58 when nearly all the luster remains.

Mint State coins rate MS60 to MS70 depending on various demands that separate the range from almost no traces of wear and few marks to nearly no imperfections and, finally, no post-production issues seen even with magnification.

Lincoln pennies are found in various colors due to circulation and oxidation. And while two coins may share similar wear – or a lack of wear in Mint State – the coin’s color heavily affects pricing.

Brown specimens (BN) in color are much more prevalent. Those that retain a trace of reddish hue (RB) with brown are less available. Coins in a satisfying red are rare and demand the highest prices, especially in MS65 and higher grades.

1965 Special Mint Sets

Image credit: PCGS

As for 1965 pennies, they were still 95% copper and 5% zinc, but overwhelming production runs of other coins brought other changes to the coin-collecting hobby.

The US Mint produced proof sets for decades, offering coins with fantastic color and beauty and sold individually, but due to a lack of interest, they were discontinued from 1916 through 1935. In 1936, the Philadelphia Mint began production again of Proof “Sets” that could only be bought as a pre-packaged set.

The pennies (and nickels) in the sets resembled standard circulation coins without the mirror-like finish seen on the other coins, so additional sets were produced with upgraded specimens, and collectors were once again happy.

Undeterred by history, the Philadelphia Mint stopped production of all proof sets in 1964, and no uncirculated mint sets were produced either. Instead, the San Francisco Mint was chosen to produce a Special Mint Set with circulation-grade coins with a satin finish. The coins held no mint marks, and although collectors grumbled, the sets sold in decent volume.

Fortunately, they did since the coins in the Special Mint Sets often retain a high value due to the exceptional satin finish and the cameo or deep cameo produced. In April of 2023, an MS-68 Red penny from a Special Mint Set sold at auction for $900.

Auction prices for rare coins are often higher than regular coins and regular retail sales, such as a 1965 1C SMS SP67 Cameo selling for $1,680 at an October 2020 Heritage auction.

1965 SMS Penny Value Chart
1965 1c SMS RD$4.05$8.10$40.50
1965 1c SMS CAM$234.00$715.00$1,250.00
1965 1c SMS DCAM$5,000.00

1965 Penny Values in Error Coins

While you’ll have to find a 1965 penny in clearly excellent or better condition to demand a price above even one dollar, higher-condition coins are still floating around in circulation, and you may find a valuable coin.

However, due to the minimal number of coins that classify as mint errors, even coins in circulated condition can bring you collecting happiness and higher dollar values.

1965 Penny Value Errors Chart
Type of Coin ErrorCirculatedUncirculated
1965 1c Struck on a Dime Planchet$431.00 to $3,450.00
1965 1c Struck More than 14% Off-Center$5.00 to $10.00$39.00 to $317.00
1965 1c Brockage and Broad strike$79.00 to $299.00
1965 1c Clipped Planchet$0.99 to $5.50$6.00 to $9.00
1965 1c Double Strike$5.00 to $10.00$61.00 to $630.00

Conclusions on 1965 Penny Value

All 1965 pennies are worth more than their face value, regardless of their condition. And while you won’t find many AU50s or better condition ‘65s in your spare change, there’s still a chance you’ll encounter one in a piggy bank or the back of your kitchen drawers.

Special Mint sets were produced in high enough quantities that their cost stayed reasonable for decades. Ultra condition pennies from the 1965 sets with deep cameo are a wonderful surprise, so keep your eyes open, as these are sometimes found in antique shops and at garage sales.

It’s difficult to know how many error coins exist in mint condition, but those offered at auction can bring very high prices, sometimes higher than any other coins from a particular year.