One of the most tumultuous years in the US and global history is the very 1944. As World War II was coming to a head, the situation in the States was far from good. Millions of soldiers are fighting overseas, and the country has redirected almost every single decision into meeting the needs of the proper war support. Even so, the uncertainty of the upcoming times, food shortages, job losses, and overall mayhem as made Americans more cautious of their choices than ever before. The country was forced to humble down and set its priorities straight.
One thing that also required humbling is the very thing that made a country; its own currency and denomination. It is no secret that throughout history, the USA has made difficult decisions when it comes to design and composition changes of their coins, but this time around, things seemed more serious than ever before. When a problem is so big that it reaches and questions the metal composition of a country’s coins, then we know big changes are coming along as well. And they did!
In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore the 1944 Lincoln penny, how the political and financial situation in the country, and on the global level affected some major changes made by the US Mint, and how worth is it in the current climate. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
The 1944 Lincoln Wheat Penny: History, Design
The tale of the 1944 Lincoln penny starts way earlier, in 1909 to be exact. The one-cent specimen was recommended by the U.S. Mint as a way to honor President Abraham Lincoln and his centennial birthday, which was in 1909. The coin has several reverse designs, but the very first one, the original one was a work of Victor David Brenner. The obverse featured a profile of President Lincoln, looking to the right side, while the reverse featured two stalks of wheat. The design was approved by the U.S. Mint, and was, later when the coin was finally released into circulation, very much beloved by the public as well.
The coin was made to symbolize and honor the United States, its rich and eventful history, the man who contributed to it being the greatest country in the world, and of course, prosperity and peace. But, the tale of the 1944 Lincoln penny is, unfortunately, far from telling the same tale. This time around, the story’s changing yet again, and the Second World War was knocking on the U.S. doors.
In 1942, the U.S. government and Mint recommended experimental changes of composition in the Lincoln Penny. Its initial composition was copper or bronze. But, now, copper was needed
elsewhere; or to be more exact, it was needed for ammunition and casings. Now, the Lincoln penny had to be made of something else, and it was recommended it be made of steel. Sure enough, the public wasn’t too pleased with this decision, claiming that the new coins felt strange, foreign, heavy, and confusing (with dimes or foreign money). So, in 1944, the government decided, yet again, to use recycled copper ammunition and make copper Lincoln pennies again.
The Coin Design and Mintage
As previously mentioned, the main characteristic of the 1944 Lincoln penny is, of course, the image of President Abraham Lincoln on the obverse, and the two stalks of wheat on the reverse. The main design of the coin was agreed upon in 1909, and it was created by Victor David Brenner. The design was based upon several inspirations, such as the Lincoln photographs taken by one of Matthew Brady’s assistants (Brady was one of the most famous American photographers).
Furthermore, the coin features the denomination, the country’s name, as well as the motto E pluribus unum. The popular motto In God We Trust was omitted. The word Liberty is placed on the obverse, to the left side of President Lincoln’s profile. To his right side, there is the year, as well as the mint mark (P, D, or S, indicating Philadelphia, Denver, as well as San Francisco Mint).
When it comes to the coin mintage, we’re talking about millions of one-cent specimens. The coins released into circulation were counted in millions, but there are also proof coins and other coin examples that were not available to a broader public. For exact numbers, consult the following table;
|Date & Mintmark
|1944 (No mint mark, Philadelphia Mint)
|1944-D (Denver Mint)
|1944-S (San Francisco Mint)
Why is the 1944 steel penny so valuable?
The value of a 1944 Lincoln penny can vary significantly, and not all 1944 Lincoln pennies are valuable. Most of these pennies are made from copper and worth only a few cents. However, some are incredibly valuable due to errors or unique characteristics.
One of the most well-known and valuable 1944 Lincoln pennies is the 1944 Steel Lincoln Penny. Due to the pressures of World War II, the U.S. Mint decided to produce pennies from steel in 1943 to save copper for the war effort. The mint returned to using copper in 1944, but a few steel pennies were mistakenly minted that year, making them rare and valuable.
A 1944 Lincoln penny could also be valuable if it is in exceptional condition (graded as Mint State), especially if it has never been circulated.
The 1944 Lincoln penny can be valuable, especially if it’s a 1944-S Zinc-Coated Steel Lincoln Cent. This is an error coin, accidentally made from leftover zinc-coated steel blanks meant for 1943, instead of the copper meant to be used in 1944. The scarcity of this error and its excellent condition (Mint State) significantly increase its value.
This specific “steelie” penny is the only known Mint State example from the San Francisco mint, making it extraordinarily rare and thus, highly valuable. The coin’s excellent preservation and luster enhance its desirability among collectors, further driving up its price.
To determine the exact value of a 1944 Lincoln penny, it’s best to have it appraised by a professional coin dealer or grading service.
The 1944 Lincoln Penny Value: How Much Does it Worth Today?
When it comes to determining the current market value of the 1944 Lincoln penny value, we need to take a few things into consideration. For all, coins coming from different mints will have a slightly different value. The least valuable ones are the ones without any mint mark, indicating they were struck and issued in Philadelphia.
The 1944 Lincoln penny that contains a D mint mark was made in Denver, and as such is slightly more valuable. The most valuable pennies and coins in general were struck in the San Francisco Mint. However, in this case, the Denver Mint 1944 penny is more valuable than the San Francisco one; we’ll explain more in the following paragraphs.
Furthermore, the grade of the coin is essential when it comes to its value as well. Any coin with a grade of MS 60 upwards is significantly more valuable than, for example, pennies and coins deemed to be of fine or good condition.
And, of course, if a coin is uncirculated (was never released into public use, or circulation), or if it’s a proof example, the value will increase significantly. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, error 1944 Lincoln pennies are also highly valuable. Let’s take a look at the approximate numbers for June 2023;
You can also take a look at this 1944 Lincoln Wheat penny chart of different value that depend very much on the condition of the coin;
|Extremely Fine (EF)
|1944 Wheat Penny
|1944 Wheat Penny D
|1944 Wheat Penny S
The USA Coin Book estimated the value of the 1944 Lincoln-D penny to be an average value of 81 USD. For a very fine condition, the estimated value is 115 USD, and for an extremely fine condition penny, one can get 203 USD, according to the current market. An uncirculated 1944-D Lincoln penny is worth 519 USD, while a brilliant uncirculated one is worth around 800 USD, on average. Furthermore, the 1944 Lincoln-S penny is estimated to be of an average value between 0.11 USD, and 4.63 USD (brilliant uncirculated), according to the current market. Let’s take a look at the highest estimated value of the 1944 Lincoln penny, up to June 2023;
- The highest value of a 1944 Lincoln penny for a grade of MS 68 has reached 13,000 USD.
- The highest value of a 1944 Steel Lincoln penny (est. 25-30 known), has reached 185,000 USD, for a grade MS 64.
- The highest value of a 1944 Lincoln-D penny has reached 9,500 USD, for a grade MS 68.
- The highest value of a 1944 Lincoln-D Steel penny (est. 7 known), has reached 90,000 USD, for a grade MS 63.
- The highest value of a 1944 Lincoln D/S penny has reached 57,000 USD, for a grade MS 67.
- The highest value of a 1944 Lincoln-S penny has reached 1850 USD, for a grade MS 67.
- The highest value of a 1944 Lincoln-S Steel penny (est. 2 known), has reached 475,000 USD, for a grade MS 66 (the auction record is $408,000.00). This 1944-S Zinc-Coated Steel Lincoln Cent is highly valued due to its rarity and exceptional condition. It is an error coin, which means it was mistakenly produced with the wrong material. In this case, a leftover zinc-coated steel blank from 1943 was used instead of the expected copper, resulting in a “steelie” penny in a year when they weren’t meant to be made.Moreover, it’s the only Mint State (a high quality grade) example known of this specific error from the San Francisco mint, making it exceptionally rare. The coin is also preserved remarkably well and shows splendid luster, adding to its desirability. The coin sold previously in 1983 and 2018, but this specific piece stands out for its pristine condition and rarity.This Lincoln Cent is known as the finest “steelie” cent from any U.S. mint, making it a unique opportunity for collectors. As with any collector’s item, scarcity and condition are primary drivers of value, hence its high price.
The Rarity of the 1944 Lincoln Penny
As we previously mentioned, the 1944 Lincoln penny was minted in hundreds of millions of specimens. These numbers don’t really show a true rarity when it comes to coins, especially the most valuable ones. Nevertheless, the 1944 penny has a high collector value for several reasons; it is over 75 years old, to put it like this, and it is overall infrequently seen by coin collectors. The rarest variety of the 1944 Lincoln penny is the 1944-D over D, as well as the 1944 steel/zinc penny.
The 1944 Lincoln penny made out of steel is so rare that only around 30 of them are known to the global coin-collecting community. That is the reason behind the whopping 185,000 USD, evaluated for the 1944 Steel Lincoln penny, and the 475,000 USD for the extremely rare 1944 Lincoln-S Steel penny.
Where to Find/Purchase 1944 Lincoln Penny?
Coming across a 1944 Lincoln penny isn’t as easy as it may seem at first, especially considering the high mintage numbers. Nevertheless, the hunt has been made easy by several online and local purchasing options, so let’s take a look at some of the best;
- eBay – this is one of the best options for finding a good-condition 1944 Lincoln penny, mostly because it is like a giant online feal market. Now, because not every purchase on eBay is safe and reliable, we urge you to stay safe and be informed regarding whom you’re buying from, and what is it that you’re getting. Make sure to arm yourself with relevant information, so do your research and know what you’re looking for.
- Etsy – if eBay is not your thing, then maybe you should try exploring Etsy for exceptional examples of the 1944 Lincoln penny. This is a more reliable and safe option for online purchasing of rare coins, especially because the prices vary and there is something for everyone’s budget.
- Antique coin shops – and if searching through the Internet isn’t your cup of tea either, we urge you to try out some of your local antique coin shops. Sometimes, the face-to-face experience is probably the best, especially if you know what to look for. Looking at a coin directly can sometimes reveal some wear and tear that would normally be hidden in images posted online.
- Auction houses – bidding at auctions for rare and exceptional coins is pretty fun. So, why not try it out, especially if you’re looking for the 1944 Lincoln penny? Auction houses have coin experts on site, and they can appraise the item/coin straight away. Sure, this is a more formal, and definitely expensive option, but it is ultimately the safest one out of the previously mentioned ones.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this brief trip into the history of the iconic 1944 Lincoln penny. The insights provided in this article will help you in your purchasing/selling journey, so make sure to read it thoroughly. Of course, we always urge our readers to consult appraisal experts and online appraisal services, so they know what they’re getting for their hard-earned money.
The value of the 1944 Lincoln penny changes, depending on a number of factors as we’ve mentioned. Make sure to get all the necessary information about a specific coin before committing to a purchase/sale. We also need to mention that the current market shows an increase in the value of the 1944 Lincoln coin, so hurry up before the prices have skyrocketed. Good luck and happy collecting!