If you have a 1982 coin, you probably want to know its value. Regardless, one thing is sure — these pennies are quite valuable. It originally came in copper, but the US Mint made certain changes to the coin that year. If you have a 1982 penny, you should familiarize yourself with its composition, as it will aid in determining its value.

Copper was expensive in 1982; for this reason, the Government needed to look towards other alternatives. Hence, you’ll find different variations of this penny. This guide will look at everything on the 1982 penny, from its composition and errors to its value.

What’s the Value of the 1982 Penny?

The value of a 1982 penny is still its surface value which is 1¢. However, an undeniable fact is that old coins have recently become a collector’s item. This implies that the 1982 coins will probably be worth more than one cent.

Many factors determine the value of the 1982 coin. It could be the composition, rarity, grade, and even errors. Also, the condition of the coin could increase the value.

The most valuable 1982 penny goes for over $15,000. A 1982 D penny was recently found and sold at an auction in 2017. The 1982 D penny value sat at $18,800, and its value is expected to appreciate even more with time.

Rarity/History of the 1982 Penny

(The Story That Influenced the Coin’s Value)

In 1982, copper became expensive, and the Government had to make specific changes to the 1¢ coin. This same year, the US Mint started making the Lincoln cents with a lower copper alloy composition of 2.5% and 97.5% zinc. It didn’t have the original brass composition which had been used pre-1982.

Now, this change didn’t happen suddenly; it started when the price of copper drastically increased in 1973. Since the copper cost was rising, many people believed it would give the 1982 penny more value. Hence, they began hoarding it, hoping to profit from the one cent; this resulted in the 1982 penny becoming short in supply.

The Government started experimenting with aluminum one-cent coins in 1973 as an alternative to copper. The vending machine operators complained that the aluminum didn’t support all their vending machines. So, when copper prices dropped again in 1974, the US Mint decided to stop changing the Lincoln penny. As a result, all the 1.5 million tested pennies were destroyed — their value was deemed uncertain and, even today, don’t have legal status.

Moving on to the 70s, the Government continued with copper. However, the copper price increased again, causing the Government to reconsider its decisions. Between 1980 and 1981, testing began on the one-cent coins. This time, they decided to make coins with 99.2% zinc core and 0.8% pure copper plating.

The zinc-based pennies were officially released on January 7, 1982. The West Point Mint minted them, and these coins didn’t have mint marks. The San Francisco mint struck over 1.5 million of this penny in 1982. The mint based in Philadelphia also started producing zinc-based pennies later that year.

On the other hand, the Denver mint didn’t start making the new pennies until October. This was barely a month after the decision of the US Mint to make a new variation of the 1982 penny, featuring a smaller-sized date. This brought about different varieties of the 1982 penny — all of which had a distinct metal composition.

Rarity History of the 1982 Penny

So far, there are eight variations of the 1982 Lincoln penny, including:

  • 1982 brass large date
  • 1982 brass small date
  • 1982 zinc large date
  • 1982 zinc small date
  • 1982-D brass large date
  • 1982-D zinc large date
  • 1982-D zinc small date
  • 1982-S proof Lincoln cent

The True Value of the 1982 Penny

The True Value of the 1982 Penny

As we mentioned earlier, the 1982 penny was the beginning of a new era for a different type of penny. The US Mint stopped using pure copper and switched to copper-plated coins. We’ve already established that there are different types of 1982 coins. As a result, their value also varies.

There are coins with large dates and small dates and even uncirculated pennies. All of these are conditions for their value. You can sell the coin for its face value or get the metal value by melting it. Regardless, the 1982 coin will bring in good profit.

Today, you’ll find a 1982 penny value with no mint mark for $0.50. The value could be higher if it’s in good condition. However, you can also get a 1982 penny for about 1¢ to $4 — this value is for the circulated version. The uncirculated 1982 pennies go for a much higher price.

So, which of the 1982 Penny is worth a premium value?

Before we can answer this, we have to consider the composition of each of the pennies. For instance, how can you tell them apart to know their actual value?

1982 Copper Penny vs. 1982 Zinc Penny

The 1982 copper penny and zinc penny are different in several ways. You can easily tell the difference by the sound of each coin when you drop them on the ground.

You get a higher pitch with copper pennies, which sounds musical in the ears. On the contrary, you’ll hear a thud when you drop a zinc penny on the ground.

Apart from their composition and sound, they both differ in weight. The copper weighs about 3.11 grams, while the zinc penny is around 2.5 grams.

However, all 1982 pennies won’t have these exact weights, and the reason behind this is rooted in a phenomenon termed tolerance. Copper boasts a 0.13 gram tolerance. So, an authentic copper penny weighs about 2.98 grams to 3.24 grams.

On the other hand, zinc pennies have a 0.10 gram tolerance. Hence, an authentic zinc penny would weigh between 2.40 and 2.60 grams.

Small Date Penny vs. Large Date Penny

Small Date Penny vs. Large Date Penny

Another difference to observe in the 1982 penny is the date. For instance, on the 1982-D penny, there’s the small date and large date type, and the alignment on these two coins is different.

On the large date penny, the top of the numbers 8 and 9 is higher than that of 1 and 2. However, for the 1982-D small date penny, all the numbers are equally aligned at the top. Hence, just looking at the date will let you know if you’re holding a 1982 large date or small date penny.

The Rarest and Most Valuable 1982 Pennies

As we’ve mentioned before, the value of the 1982 penny will depend on the condition, composition, and errors. That said, the rarest of the 1982 pennies is the 1982-D small date penny. There’s been, so far, only one discovered. The penny is worth 2¢ in its circulated version but very expensive for the rare uncirculated version.

Not too long ago, a 1982-D small date bronze penny was auctioned. The AU58 penny was sold at $18,800 on August 3, 2017, at the Stack’s Bowers auction. This rare Lincoln penny doesn’t look very different from any circulated penny.

Another valuable variety is the 1982-D small date copper penny. It was discovered sometime in 2016, and the 1982 small date copper penny value is currently valued at over $10,000.

The 1982 Penny Value Chart

To give you a better idea of how the value of the various 1982 pennies vary with type and date size, we’ve outlined the following table:

Grade Value
  Small Date Bronze Large Date Bronze Large Date Zinc Small Date Zinc
MS65 $38–$63 $31–$51 $15–$25 $2–$3
MS66 $68–$113 $45–$75 $23–$38 $30–$50
MS67 $600–$1,000 $75–$125 $49–$81 $75–$125

The value of the 1982 Penny varies; it depends on the grade you have. If you have an AU58 grade of the 1982 large date bronze penny, it’s currently worth $2, but if you have the uncirculated MS68 grade, you could get up to $1,375. The small date bronze penny can go for up to $3,500.

The zinc pennies aren’t as valuable as the 1982 bronze pennies. The MS68 grade large date zinc is worth $188, while the circulated small date bronze penny is worth $125.

Errors in the 1982 Penny

Errors in pennies are usually rare, and collectors are always on the lookout for these coins. Most times, pennies’ errors happen due to exposure damage, chipping, clipping, or some other cause.

For instance, the wrong planchet error in the 1982 bronze penny is more valuable because there wasn’t meant to be a bronze penny in the first place. The one-cent small date penny minted in Denver in 1982 surfaced due to an error from leftover copper planchets. It was struck with the dies made for the zinc coins but instead caused an error.

This type of error is directly from the mintage, and that’s why they’re of interest. In this section, we’ll be looking at the 1982 penny errors and their value. These types of pennies are incredibly valuable because they’re a rare find.

Here are some of the 1982 penny errors you should know about:

No Mint Mark

1982 penny No Mint Mark

It’s worth a few bucks if you have a 1982 penny with no mint mark. The value could be at least $5 or more, but you must consider its condition and grade. Presently, the coins with no mint mark are quite valuable, but keeping them for a while may be advisable.

Cracked Die Penny

You’ll find some 1982 pennies with a cracked surface, especially on their die. This type of error is a result of environmental exposure. It’s pretty rare and has increased the value of the penny.

Double Die Penny

1982 penny Double Die Penny

This error has been sighted on 1982 pennies. They originate from the mintage and occur when a penny has a double die. These coins usually have multiple layers and then a double surface.

This error increases the coin’s value by 0.6%. So, it’s expected that with this error, the penny could be worth $5.

Even though errors can add value to the coin, not all errors do so. In that case, what do you look out for, and how do you go about it? It’s a good idea to have a coin appraiser examine your coin to identify the errors. That way, you know those errors that are truly worth it.

How Valuable Are 1982 Error Pennies?

Now that you know the errors in the 1982 coins, what does it mean for their value?

So far, the most valuable of the coin errors is the 1982 small date zinc penny with a reverse doubled die. This error was first discovered in 2007, and its value sits at $15,000 because it’s absolutely rare.

A double die error was also sighted in a 1982 large date copper penny. However, its value is not up to that of the small date zinc penny. Some uncirculated grade errors usually fall between $2 and $4.

There’s no value for worn-out 1982 pennies. Coin collectors usually look for errors in 1982 pennies around AU grade or the higher ones.


What’s the rare 1982 penny value today?

Not all 1982 pennies are valuable, but some are worth a thousand dollars. So far, the most valuable 1982 penny has been the small date bronze coin. The 1982 small date bronze penny’s value as of 2017 was $18,800, making it one of the rarest coins made that year. The mint didn’t intend to make a bronze coin, making it more valuable.

Why were pennies’ constituents changed from copper to zinc in 1982?

The significantly high cost of copper was the reason for the change. Notably, the price of copper fluctuated, and the US government began testing other metals for the Lincoln pennies. The first zinc penny was then struck in January 1982.

Is there a difference between the 1982 copper penny and zinc penny?

Yes, there are several differences between the copper and zinc pennies of 1982.

For one, the 1982 copper penny was made with 95% copper and 5% zinc, while the 1982 zinc penny comprised 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper plated alloy. Another difference is that the pure copper pennies weigh 3.11 grams, while the 1982 zinc pennies weigh less at 2.5 grams. Due to these reasons, the 1982 copper penny value differs from the zinc pennies.


Not all 1982 pennies are worth their face value, with some being highly valuable. The only way to ensure you have a valuable coin is to appraise it. Many people are cashing in on their pennies today — so if you have one of these valuable coins in your home, you could sell it at a reasonable price to coin collectors.

The 1982 penny marked the era when coin mintage was changed from copper to zinc. You should count yourself lucky if you own an uncirculated penny or one in good condition. If you’re lucky to have the rarest and most valuable 1982 penny, you can pocket over $15,000 for it. Also, don’t forget to look out for errors on your coin; they may increase the value of your 1982 penny.

Also Read: 1982 Washington Quarter Value Chart in 2023 (Most Valuable in History Auctioned for $10,200)

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  1. Rosalio Cervantes says:

    I have two 1982 pennies one minted in Denver and the other one without mint mark they both weight 3.1 grams what should I do?

  2. Where would I sell my 1982 small date???

  3. Ronald white says:

    I have two 1982 with the dates and D mart different from others.

  4. Ronald White says:

    I have a 1982 D small date that the A M is wide, is it worth anything?

  5. I have a 1982 zinc small date double die chip planchet with lots more errors any idea it’s value if any??

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