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Discovering the Value of the 1999 Lincoln Memorial Penny

Discovering the Value of the 1999 Lincoln Memorial Penny

The 1999 Lincoln Memorial penny is a coin struck in massive numbers. Several reverse dies were swapped between Philadelphia and San Francisco, whether by accident or design, in the years 1998, 1999, and 2000. This swap created a set of die varieties, in both 1999 Lincoln pennies and 1999-S proof pennies, that can yield significant value for collectors.

In addition, it is quite possible that several of the variant 1999 Lincoln pennies remain in circulation. The value of these coins is such that careful examination of pocket change and coin rolls could still yield a nice surprise through coin “picking.”

Production of the 1999 Lincoln Memorial Penny

In 1999, the United States Mint coined pennies in both Denver and Philadelphia. San Francisco produced only proof coinage. The two main mints produced, between them, over eleven and a half billion pennies. The San Francisco Mint struck over three million pennies, for inclusion in proof sets.

DatePhiladelphiaDenverSan Francisco
1999 Proof003,347,966
Source: Red Book

How Much Are 1999 Lincoln Memorial Pennies Worth?

1999 Penny Value Chart
Business Strike
Uncirculated MS66Uncirculated MS67Uncirculated MS68
1999 1C RD$5.40$18.90$81.00
1999 1C Wide AM RD$273.00$1,020.00$4,810.00
1999-D 1C RD$2.65$13.50$40.50
Proof Strike
1999-S 1C DCAM$2.65$4.05$5.40
1999-S 1C Close AM DCAM$81.00$115.00$169.00
Source: CDN CPG® (Retail)

With so many pennies struck, after only a quarter-century, a significant number survive in excellent condition. Except at the very highest grades, the ordinary 1999 Lincoln penny is only worth face value, with no premium for rarity or collectability.

Even uncirculated examples of the 1999 or 1999-D Lincoln penny can be found at coin dealers or coin shows for insignificant prices. Only the very highest grades of 1999 or 1999-D penny can be considered even remotely valuable.

Collectors wanting to find specimens for a collection will have no problem turning up many fine specimens for their consideration. A child wanting to fill up a penny folder will find many nice examples simply by examining rolls of pennies from the nearest bank.

A couple of reverse die “varieties” exist, and these can be somewhat scarce. Advanced collectors building up a set, not only of Lincoln pennies but of the variations that have crept in over the years, may find these coins something of a challenge, and expensive at the higher grades.

Values for 1999 Pennies

1999 1C, RD
Image credit: PCGS

David Bowers, in his guide book on Lincoln pennies, describes the 1999 Lincoln penny coined in Philadelphia as “very common.” He notes that the details of Lincoln’s portrait on the master hubs, especially the hair, were retouched after many years, to make better, sharper images on the struck coins.

In addition, a variation crept into the reverse dies used to make coins in Philadelphia, beginning in 1998. In that year, at least one die of the sort which should have been sent to San Francisco, and used for striking proof coins, was instead used to strike circulating coins in Philadelphia. This process would recur in 1999, and again in the following year, 2000. In 1999, a die intended for use in striking circulating coins was sent to San Francisco, and used for the making of proof coins.

Both of these variations can be quite valuable. Ordinary 1999 Lincoln pennies, struck using the correct reverse dies, are not especially valuable, except at higher uncirculated grades. Circulated 1999 pennies attract no attention from collectors, and have no premium above face value.

At the lower uncirculated grades, a 1999 Lincoln penny, with a nice red luster, should sell for about $0.25 at a grade of MS-60. A 1999 Lincoln penny graded MS-63 should sell for only slightly more, fetching perhaps $0.35. A nice, mid-range uncirculated Lincoln penny, graded MS-65, still costs less than a dollar, trading at, perhaps, $0.65. At the top range of prices, a 1999 Lincoln penny, graded MS-67, sells for under $20.

Above this, prices rise somewhat. Heritage Auctions sold a 1999 Lincoln penny, graded MS-68, for $77 in September 2023. Few, if any, 1999 Lincoln pennies of higher grade have come to market recently.

Values for 1999-D Pennies

1999-D 1C, RD
Image credit: PCGS

Values for 1999-D Lincoln pennies are highly similar to those for 1999 Lincoln pennies struck in Philadelphia. The Denver Mint does not seem to have received any of the proof dies intended for San Francisco.

Circulated grades of 1999-D pennies have little interest for collectors and no extra premium above their face value. A 1999-D uncirculated penny, graded MS-60, trades for a price similar to that of a 1999 penny of the same grade, about $0.25. Mid-range uncirculated 1999-D pennies, graded at MS-63 and MS-65, sell for prices ranging from $0.35 to $0.60.

A better quality 1999-D penny, graded at MS-67, may sell for slightly less than a 1999 penny of the same grade, and realize a price just under $15. An outstanding specimen, a 1999-D Lincoln penny, graded MS-68 RD sold in November 2023 for $43. This is less than the highest price realized by a Philadelphia Lincoln penny, but there is a somewhat better quality at the very top of the grade in 1999-D Lincoln pennies, compared to those from Philadelphia, and so a number of higher grade 1999-D specimens command prices in the hundreds of dollars.

For example, in August 2018, a 1999-D penny, graded at MS-69 RD, sold at auction for $408. In August 2022, a similar 1999-D penny, with a similar grade of MS-69 RD, sold for $312. A third example of this grade sold for $264 in June 2019. In contrast, coins of this quality don’t seem to exist for 1999 Lincoln pennies minted in Philadelphia, or, if they do, they have not yet come to market, which seems implausible.

Values for 1999-S Proof Pennies

1999-S 1C, DCAM (Proof)
Image credit: PCGS

In 1999, proof coins were sold by the set, and many coins remain available in their original packaging. The 1999-S proof penny with the ordinary proof reverse is quite common, both in sets, and as individual coins when sets have been broken up. These are not especially valuable. Deep cameo finishes are also readily available on 1999-S proof coins, and these are not especially valuable.

Thus, a 1999-S proof penny, graded PR-60, DCAM, with the standard, wide lettering, reverse, can be purchased for about $0.75. The value for 1999-S proof pennies graded PR-63 through PR-65, with the same standard pattern reverse, is also about $0.75. All of these coins are assumed to have a deep cameo finish.

Nicer proof coins with a higher grade are harder to come by. Consequently, a 1999-S proof penny with a grade of PR-67 and a deep cameo finish, can sell for about $3, while a penny with a grade of PR-69 DCAM might sell for over $5.

In November 2023, an astonishing 1999-S proof penny, graded at the very highest ranking of PR-70 DCAM, sold for $109 at Heritage Auctions. This represents the very highest possible grade for a coin.

1999 Lincoln Memorial Penny Varieties

How to Tell the Difference Between “Wide AM” and “Close AM” Varieties

Image credit: PCGS

Jaime Hernandez, a writer on Lincoln pennies for the Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS), explained the distinction between the circulating and proof designs of the penny as they existed at the end of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first.

As a general rule, Lincoln pennies meant for circulation between the years 1993 and 2008 should have the letters “A” and “M” in the word “America” either touching, or closely spaced. Circulation coin dies were prepared accordingly. In contrast, the coins struck in San Francisco between 1994 and 2008 should have the letters “A” and “M” in “America” widely spaced with a clear gap between them.

Anything at variance with these two rules, whether a widely spaced A  M on a circulating coin, or a closely spaced AM on a proof coin, is either a die variety or an error, according to Hernandez. In 1998, 1999, and 2000, the appearance of these oddities is frequent enough to be thought of as a die variant from the usual practice of the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints.

Because of the large numbers of variant coins struck, both at Philadelphia and San Francisco, Fivaz and Stanton describe the circulating, or narrow AM pattern as a “Type I” reverse, in their catalog of American coin varieties, and the proof or wide AM pattern as a “Type II” reverse. Hernandez notes that of the three years in which large numbers of variant pennies were struck at Philadelphia and San Francisco, those of 1999 were by far the least common.

Both the 1999 Lincoln penny intended for circulation, with the proof coin reverse, and the 1999-S proof Lincoln penny with the circulating or business strike coin reverse are varieties well-known to collectors and very popular in the coin collecting hobby. Both fetch good prices, and are considered scarce and valuable.

Value of the 1999 Lincoln Penny With Wide AM Reverse

Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton catalog this circulating variety of 1999 Lincoln penny as FS-01-1999-901. Hernandez, commenting on the rarity of the coin, said that even in 2009, the lowest graded pennies of this type still commanded $100 at sale. He speculated that many specimens remained in circulation at that point, meaning that careful examination and cherry-picking might yield positive results.

In contrast to the prices for ordinary uncirculated 1999 Lincoln pennies, the prices for 1999 Lincoln penny variants with the wide AM reverse are considerable. A 1999 Lincoln penny variant, with a grade of MS-60, should sell for $156, rather than less than $1. Variant 1999 pennies graded between MS-63 and MS-65 will sell for a little under or a little over $200; the corresponding grades of the ordinary 1999 penny also sell for less than a dollar.

Some especially nice uncirculated 1999 pennies with the wide AM variant sell for even higher prices. In November 2023, a 1999 variant Lincoln penny, graded MS-65 RD sold for $480. This marks a considerable advance on previous average prices.

At the higher grades, the disparity becomes even more remarkable. In December 2023, a 1999 variant Lincoln penny with the Wide AM reverse, sold at auction for $576. A similar coin with the ordinary close reverse would usually sell for less than $20, and the highest graded 1999 Lincoln pennies of that sort would still sell for under $100.

Value of the 1999-S Proof Lincoln Penny With Narrow AM Reverse

The 1999-S proof Lincoln penny with the narrow AM lettering on the reverse represents the analog of the 1999 penny with wide AM lettering. Both are the exact opposite of what they should be. Accordingly, Fivaz and Stanton assign this coin the variety designation of FS-01-1999S-901.

Lower grade 1999-S proof coins, evaluated between PR-60 and PR-65, all of which sell for under $1 if of the ordinary pattern, can fetch prices between $30 and $60. A higher grade 1999-S proof coin, graded at PR-67, can be worth about $80.

The very nicest specimens of 1999-S proof penny of this variant, graded at PR-69, can go for several hundred dollars at auction. In November, 2023, a 1999-S proof penny, graded PR-69 DCAM, sold for $312. In April 2023, an identically graded 1999-S proof coin of this type sold for $552. These are quite valuable compared to ordinary proof coins of similar grade, which can sometimes be found for as little as $5.

Technical Specifications of the 1999 Lincoln Memorial Penny

Although the year 1999 was the ninetieth since the introduction of the Lincoln penny design obverse and the fortieth since the introduction of the design reverse, the pattern still had another ten years to run before any changes were made.

The obverse, honoring Abraham Lincoln, was first introduced in 1909 as a means of commemorating the bicentennial of his birth. The original bust of the President was created by Victor Brenner, a sculptor and medallion artist of the period. The original reverse, by Brenner, consisted of two stalks of wheat, bound together in a stylized wreath around the denomination of the coin, “one cent.”

In 1959, the original reverse was replaced by a frontal view of the Lincoln Memorial designed by the Assistant Engraver of the Mint, Frank Gasparro.  The design, as finalized in 1959, would remain in use until 2009 when a special series of pennies were created to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Lincoln.

In 1982, the metal composition of the penny, which had long been a bronze alloy of 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc, was replaced with a clad planchet, made of a zinc core and a thin coating of copper. While the diameter remained the same, at 19 millimeters, the new metal composition reduced the weight of the coin from 3.11 grams to 2.5 grams.


The ordinary 1999 Lincoln penny is simply a coin, with no special value, even at the uncirculated grades. A handful of examples, created by a simple mistake, have significant collector appeal and value. The good news is that some of the rare varieties may have escaped detection, and may remain in circulation. Searching pocket change may yield a good dividend.