Skip to Content

Discovering the Value of the 1971 Lincoln Memorial Penny

Discovering the Value of the 1971 Lincoln Memorial Penny

The 1971 Lincoln penny was coined in massive numbers and survives today, a half-century later, in more than ample numbers to satisfy collectors. The coin can still be found in general circulation quite easily, and so collectors simply wanting a brown or red-brown circulated coin to fill in a spot in a blue penny folder will have no problem finding several nice examples simply by examining pocket change or rolls of pennies from the bank.

With the exception of some doubled die varieties, which have a certain popularity among specialists, the 1971 Lincoln penny is not especially valuable except for uncirculated examples with full red tone. Even then, prices for the lower grade of uncirculated coin remain quite moderate and accessible to collectors.

Production of the 1971 Lincoln Penny

In 1971, the U.S. Treasury struck pennies at all three mints, in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Together, the three mints struck over five billion pennies. In addition, the San Francisco Mint struck over three million proof pennies.

DatePhiladelphiaDenverSan Francisco
1971 Proof003,220,733
Source: Red Book

How Much Are 1971 Lincoln Pennies Worth?

With over five billion coins, the 1971 penny is highly common from all mints, and in all grades. Some varieties exist which may prove challenging for collectors, but, in general, the 1971 Lincoln penny is not especially valuable, and many nice examples can still be found in circulation if a collector wishes to have the experience of “picking” a roll or bag of coins, looking for “just the coin” to place in a penny folder or a display.

1971 Penny Value Chart
Business Strike
Uncirculated MS63Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS67
1971 1C RD$0.55$1.50$162.00
1971-D 1C RD$0.55$1.50$292.00
1971-S 1C RD$0.90$2.65$169.00
Proof Strike
1971-S 1C DCAM$1.50$8.10$3,500.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Values for 1971 Lincoln Pennies

1971 1C, RD
Image credit: PCGS

The 1971 Lincoln penny is common in all grades, including the high-end gem uncirculated grades. Numismatic writer and Lincoln penny expert David Bower says that collectors hoping to purchase an entire uncirculated bag in bulk of 1971 pennies for investment or “picking” purposes may have some difficulty in finding one.

In general, quality control was decent, so most of the 1971 pennies have good detail and are well struck.

Given the extraordinary numbers minted, only uncirculated 1971 Lincoln pennies with full red tone have any value beyond that of one cent. A 1971 penny graded MS-63 RD ought to sell for about $0.50, while a nicer example, graded MS-65 RD, ought to sell for $1.50. At grades of MS-67 and above, specimens become rarer and harder to find. A 1971 Lincoln penny graded MS-67 RD can be found for between $150 and $250.

In January 2019, Heritage Auctions sold a 1971 Lincoln penny, graded MS-67+ RD for $3,600. The auction note stated that only four such coins were known at the MS-67+ grade, and none finer.

Values for 1971-D Lincoln Pennies

1971-D 1C, RD
Image credit: PCGS

The 1971-D Lincoln penny is extremely common, even in the best uncirculated grades. Many coins remain in circulation and many fine specimens, with full detail, and good tone and luster, can be easily found, whether at coin shows or dealers, or even, occasionally, in circulation.

Only uncirculated, red toned 1971-D pennies have any significant value, and even these tend to be modest. A 1971-D penny, graded MS-63 RD will sell for about $0.55. At the grade MS-65 RD, the penny should sell for about $1.50. A very nice MS-67 RD specimen should sell for about $300, although that price could go higher at auction. In November 2023, a 1971-D Lincoln penny, graded MS-67 RD sold for $480 at Heritage Auctions.

Values for 1971-S Pennies

1971-S 1C, RD
Image credit: PCGS

The San Francisco Mint resumed production three years earlier, in 1968, after a decade-long closure. After reopening, the San Francisco Mint focused largely, but not exclusively, upon the production of proof coins. In 1971, over 3,000,000 proof coins were struck. In addition, over 500,000,000 Lincoln pennies intended for circulation were struck. This was a large number, in comparison to earlier mintages, but insignificant compared to the output of the Philadelphia or Denver Mints.

Despite having only a fraction of the production numbers of the other two mints, high grade uncirculated 1971-S Lincoln pennies remain surprisingly common because many investors, speculators, and coin collectors purchased rolls containing 50 pennies each at the time, and these still occasionally surface.

Even though 1971-S pennies are far less common than either 1971 or 1971-D pennies, the prices they realize are only slightly higher, and only uncirculated red specimens have any significant value. A 1971-S penny, graded MS-63 RD, should sell for $0.90 according to the value chart. At the MS-65 RD grade, such a coin should fetch under $3. A 1971-S gem, graded MS-67 RD can be found for $175 or less, though, as with the Denver pennies, values can go higher for the right specimens. In April 2023, a 1971-S penny, graded MS-67 RD sold for $456 on Heritage Auction’s site.

Values for 1971 Proof Lincoln Pennies

1971-S 1C, DCAM (Proof)
Image credit: PCGS

Enough ordinary proof coins exist that the price remains quite moderate for 1971-S proof pennies, and only deep cameo versions have any appreciable value.  A 1971-S proof penny, graded PR-63 can still sometimes be found for $0.50 at coin dealers or coin shows. A better specimen, graded at PR-65, should cost about $1.50, while a specimen graded at PR-67 should cost $8.

The very choicest specimens graded at PR-68 or PR-69 are quite valuable. In January 2019, a deep cameo proof 1971-S penny graded PR-69 sold for $3,360. The auction catalog noted that only about 25% of proofs submitted for evaluation to the certification services could be described as deep cameo proofs. Only ten coins graded as well as the coin at auction were then known to exist.

One option for obtaining a proof penny is to purchase the entire proof set, sometimes found in the original holder. These can sometimes be quite expensive. In August 2023, a five-coin proof set with both the original plastic holder and the blue cardboard box that wrapped it sold for $1,050 at auction

1971 Lincoln Penny Errors and Varieties

Values for 1971 Lincoln Penny Doubled-Dies

1971 1C Doubled Die Obverse
Image credit: Heritage Auctions
1971 Penny DDO Value Chart
Uncirculated MS64Uncirculated MS65Uncirculated MS66
1971 1C DDO BN$234.00$390.00$1,250.00
1971 1C DDO RB$273.00$585.00$1,750.00
1971 1C DDO RD$325.00$845.00$2,250.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

Certainly one, and possibly two, doubled die obverse variations exist for 1971 Lincoln pennies. A doubled die arises from a defect in the manufacturing process when dies, or molds, for coins are created. An engraver, making a die, strikes it against a master image of the coin, known as a “hub.” To make a firm impression in the metal for the die, several strikes are needed. Ideally, these fall in the same place on the die, but if they do not, multiple or “doubled” images arise on the finished die. These will then be evident on every coin struck using that die.

The first doubled die variation, cataloged by Bill Fivaz and J. T. Stanton as FS-1-1971-101 is a very rare coin, highly sought after by collectors specializing in variations and errors. The doubling is very clear in the lettering, of the word “Liberty” and in the motto “In God We Trust,” and less so in the date of the coin. In addition, one of the strikes of the obverse die was slightly off center, making the whole die slightly misaligned.

In May 2023, a 1971 DDO Lincoln penny, variety FS-101,graded MS-65 RD, sold for $336 at auction. In 2010, Heritage Auction sold an exceptionally fine specimen, also graded MS-65 RD, for just over $3,700. The auction notes stated that at that time, only nine or ten examples of the 1971 penny DDO FS-101 of approximately this grade had been presented to the national certification services.

In November 2023, a 1971 DDO Lincoln penny of this variety, graded MS-66 RD sold for $2,640 at Heritage Auctions. The auction catalog indicated that only ten specimens had been graded at the MS-66 level, and only one at the MS-66+ level. The coin had only a few minor nicks and abrasions from bag contact, which prevented a better grade, and wonderful color and tone.

The second doubled die variation for 1971 Lincoln pennies, known by its Fivaz-Stanton catalog number FS-1-1971-102, is somewhat controversial.  Some specialists believe it is not a true doubling of the die, but a worn die kept in service longer than necessary or prudent. Others argue that it is a genuine case, with significant and visible doubling at the letters RTY in the word “Liberty.”

Whatever is happening with the die is plainly visible under even ordinary magnification, and so many numismatists seek specimens to complete their error collections and values have risen accordingly.

In November 2023, a 1971 DDO penny, FS-102 variety, graded MS-66 RD, sold at auction for $240.

Values for the 1971-S Proof Doubled Die Variety

1971-S 1C Doubled Die Obverse
Image credit: Heritage Auctions

In addition to doubled die varieties for circulating coins, three doubled die obverse varieties for the 1971-S proof coin also exist. Numismatic expert David Bowers says that demand for these varieties picked up because they are listed separately under the “Red Book,” the guide to prices of U.S. coins, which has increased public awareness. He also points out that Walter Breen, an expert on Lincoln pennies, is skeptical of their overall importance, stating that the actual doubling effect is quite minute, even if the coins are comparatively rare.

The first variety is known by the Fivaz-Stanton catalog number FS-01-1971S-101. Coins struck by this die show a slight doubling on the date. The effect is more pronounced on the motto, “In God We Trust,” as well as in the word “Liberty.” This is popular, but not as rare as the second variety.

In 2010, a proof penny of this variety, graded PR-69, sold for $3,910 at auction. In 2018, Heritage Auction sold a specimen of this coin, graded PR-68 DCAM, for $2,280. The auction catalog noted that between varieties FS-101 and 102, while the 102 variety had a stronger overall doubling, the doubling on the date was more visible on variety 101.

More recently, in May 2023, a specimen of this variety graded PR-68 RD, sold for $660.

A second doubled die variety, known by the catalog number FS-1971-S-102, shows no doubling in the date, and visible doubling of the lettering. This is described by Fivaz and Stanton as one of the rarest proof doubled die varieties among the Lincoln pennies. This is the most valuable of the varieties.

In April 2023, Heritage Auctions sold an example of this variety graded at PR-67 for $456.

The third doubled die obverse variety for 1971-S proof pennies, FS-1971-S-103, is almost summarily dismissed by Fivaz and Stanton in their catalog, saying only “Just another reason to check the 1971 proof sets.” The coin has little doubling on the date, and is only slightly doubled in the lettering.

In November 2023, Heritage Auctions sold an example of this coin, graded PR-66, for $204.

Technical Specifications of the 1971 Lincoln Penny

The 1971 Lincoln penny is a bronze coin, made of 95% copper and 5% zinc. It has a weight of 3.11 grams and a diameter of 19 millimeters.

The obverse of the Lincoln penny was first introduced in 1909 and featured a portrait bust of the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It was the first regular American coin intended for circulation to feature a historical figure, rather than an allegorical image. The design was immensely popular.

In 1959, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the design on the reverse was changed from a wreath of wheat stalks to a view of the Lincoln Memorial, similar to that found on the five dollar bill. This image, created by Assistant Engraver of the Mint, Frank Gasparro, remained in use until a new design occasioned by the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth led to a further change.

The Lincoln penny design in general remains the longest continuously used design in American history, and one of the longest running coin designs in the world. Given the long run, it is immensely popular with collectors, as there are enough varieties and types to create something of a challenge for all levels and budgets within the hobby.


The 1971 Lincoln penny poses no challenge for even beginning collectors. Several nice examples can be found for free by looking through accumulations of pennies. At the highest levels of uncirculated gem coins, of the sort ordinarily found in museums or in elite collections, prices begin to rise, but most collectors will have no problem securing even an uncirculated specimen that will look very fine in a coin holder for a more sophisticated collection.