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1945 Wheat Penny Value: Varieties & Errors

Have you read information about a 1945 wheat penny worth a million dollars and another 1945 penny worth 85,000 dollars?

For the record, the highest-valued 1945 penny is a no-mint-mark variety that sold for $20,400 at the Heritage Auctions in 2022. When speaking of a 1945 wheat penny worth a million dollars, people refer to a 1943 wheat penny that sold for over a million dollars in 2018. The bronze penny was graded MS63RD.

There’s no record of a 1945 penny worth 85,000 dollars either.

However, setting that record straight does not mean the 1945 penny has not made record sales in the coin market. Despite its high mintage of over a million coins, the 1945 penny has managed to defy the rarity vs. value rule to command high prices.

You will find more info about these valuable 1945 pennies in the rest of the article. Before getting there, let’s kickstart our discovery of the 1945 wheat penny value with a quick revisit of the coin’s design history and symbolism.

1945 Wheat Penny History and Coin Details

There have been attempts to stop minting the one-cent coin to save taxpayers its minting cost. This motion was introduced to the Senate by a 2017 Bill. But until the proposal passes into law, if it ever does, the US Mint continues to strike pennies.

1945 Penny

The one-cent coin was among the pioneer circulation coins made by the US Mint soon after its establishment in 1792. The mint released 11,178 copper pennies for circulation in 1793, initiating a trend of penny minting in its diverse series.

The 1945 penny fits into the Lincoln wheat series struck from 1909 to 1958. Unique to the Lincoln wheat series is the image of the 16th US president, Abraham Lincoln.

The former President’s image was first used on the penny in 1909 to honor his memory on his 100th birthday. This move made history because he became the first real image to feature on a US currency coin.

Designer Victor David Brenner engraved Lincoln’s bust in a right-facing pose on the obverse side. The image has stayed on the penny to date.

Instead, Brenner designed two sheaves of wheat along the east and west edges of the coin on the reverse side, which is what you see on the 1945 penny. The two key details of the design explain the coin’s description as the Lincoln wheat series.

Other details on the 1945 penny obverse include:

  • The inscription, IN GOD WE TRUST, curved above Lincoln’s head.
  • The word LIBERTY in a horizontal text direction at the back of Lincoln’s image.
  • The mint year, 1945, to the front of Lincoln’s image.
  • The mint mark “D” or “S” just above the mint year.

1945 Penny Obverse

The reverse side also includes these details:

  • The coin denomination, ONE CENT, is at the core of the coin in a large font.
  • The country name, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, is below the coin denomination in a smaller font.
  • The motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM, is at the top edge of the coin in a curve.

1945 Penny Reverse

Like the design, the 1945 penny mental composition also has historical detail. Because America was trying to reserve her copper for its uses in World War II, the country diverted focus to other metals for coin minting.

As a result, the Mint made the 1943 penny from zinc-coated steel. But this turned out to be a low-quality coin, making the mint revert to cooper, though not in a 100% composition.

As such, the 1945 Lincoln wheat penny is a brass coin, an alloy of 95% copper and 5% zinc. That composition differentiates it from the zinc-coated steel cent of 1943 and gives it a higher melt value: $0.24 compared to $0.0006 for the 1934 cent.

The 1945 Lincoln wheat cent also lacks the little metal addition in the 1864–1942 and the 1947–1962 bronze pennies. But this small difference does not change the melt value between the bronze and the brass cents.

As you read later, these features impact the 1945 penny value. We’ll talk about that in a bit. In the meantime, here’s the complete 1945 Lincoln wheat penny specifications:

  • Coin Series: Lincoln wheat penny.
  • Total Mintage: 1,488,553,000.
  • Varieties: No Mint Mark (Philadelphia), “D” (Denver”, “S” (San Francisco).
  • Designer: Victor David Brenner.
  • Metal composition: 95% copper and 5% zinc.
  • Weight: 3.11g.
  • Diameter: 19mm.

1945 Lincoln Wheat Penny Varieties

As indicated in the 1945 penny specifications above, the Mint struck three varieties of the coin at the Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S) mints.

The 1945 penny no mint mark variety seems to command higher prices than the “D” and “S” varieties. Each mint contributed to the overall 1945 mintage, as shown below.

1945 Lincoln Wheat Penny Variety Mint Location Mintage Current Record Sale
No mint mark Philadelphia 1,040,515,000 $20,400
“D” Denver 266,268,000 $18,800
“S” San Francisco 181,770,000 $7,050

1945 Wheat Penny Value

The 1945 wheat penny has a face value of $0.01. In the coin market, the 1945 penny sells for less than a dollar in the circulated condition but could rise to $16,000 or more in the uncirculated, higher mint grades. Circulated 1945 pennies with errors also command premium prices in the coin market.

We compared the price guides for the 1945 wheat penny value today from the PCGS and US Coin Book records to give you this 1945 wheat penny value chart.

No mint mark D S
12 (Fine) $0.6 $0.6 $0.11
20 (Very Fine) $0.11 $0.11 $0.17
40(Extremely Fine) $0.23 $0.23 $0.23
50 (About Uncirculated $0.40 $0.40 $0.40
MS60 $1-$5 $1-$5 $1-$3
MS63 $4-$5 $10-$11 $7-$8
MS64 $12-$14 $15-$16 $10-$12
MS65 $20-$24 $18-$22 $18-$20
MS66 $32-$75 $28-$45 $30-$45
MS67 $300-$6,500 $165-$600 $100-$900
MS/PR68 $16,000 $7,500

Record sales for all three varieties of the 1945 wheat penny show its value can increase beyond those on the value chart if they bear rare features. Find out what features increase the 1945 penny value in the next section.

What Makes a 1945 Penny Valuable?

The 1945 penny claims value for simply being a coin in the Lincoln wheat series. There are two reasons for that:

  • First, the NGC suggests that novice coin collectors often begin their career with the Lincoln series because of its availability and affordability, and they continue to focus on it even as veteran collectors.
  • Second, the Lincoln penny has a sentimental value for Americans, which is one of the reasons the former President’s bust has persisted on the penny’s obverse for more than a century. It wouldn’t be surprising that this emotive value is also a factor among coin collectors who specialize in the series.

That said, the 1945 Lincoln wheat penny value also appreciates with these features:

Higher Grade Values

A coin’s grade describes its physical condition, which can range from 1 (poor) for a circulated coin with extreme signs of wear to 70 (Perfect Uncirculated) for one in the mint state (MS) without any post-minting imperfections when magnified 5x.

Most coins are assigned a grade between these extremes. Collectors assign a higher value to well-preserved, uncirculated coins with higher grading.

This is true of the 1945 Lincoln wheat penny. The most valuable 1945 penny referenced earlier has an MS67+ grade. The “+” indicates it is in better condition than those in the MS67 grade, but not enough for the next grade.

However, 1945 pennies in uncirculated condition can appreciate or depreciate in value depending on other grading factors like strike quality, luster, color, appeal, and sometimes the mint location.

Mint Errors

Mint errors make coins stand out as rare and unique from the rest of the coins in their variety. This gives them a special appeal in the eyes of collectors.

Some 1945 Lincoln wheat pennies have mint errors that increase their value by a few and sometimes hundreds of dollars.

Some of the most valuable 1945 penny mint errors include the obverse cud die break error and those struck on a wrong planchet.

I’ll give you the complete 1945 penny error list in a bit. But let’s discuss first the 1945 penny value for the three main varieties.

1945 Penny No Mint Mark Value

1945 No Mint Mark Penny

The 1945 penny no mint mark struck at the Philadelphia mint is the better valued of the three varieties struck that year.

As indicated earlier, the highest sale for a 1945 Lincoln wheat penny is recorded for a 1945 wheat penny sold in 2022 for $20,400 at the Heritage Auctions. This penny has an MS67+ RD (red) grading and is described as having a sharp strike and a brightly lustrous surface.

The pristine and high-grade condition gives this coin its premium value. A higher grading is also the primary value factor for the top 5 highest-selling 1945 no mint mark pennies shown in the table.

Sale Year Grade Price Firm
2022 MS67+ $20,400 Heritage Auctions
2015 MS67+ $4,465 Heritage Auctions
2019 MS67+ $4,320 Heritage Auctions
2010 MS68 $4,313 Heritage Auctions
2005 MS68 $4,313 Heritage Auctions

In 2023, coin market prices for the 1945 penny no mint mark range between $114 and $3,480. The first coin is graded MS67 and sold in April at the Heritage Auctions, while the second has an MS67+ grading and sold in May at the same firm.

1945 D Penny Value

1945 D Penny

To date, the 1945 D penny variety has at least two five-figure record sales compared to one for the 1945 penny no mint mark variety. However, the latter variety commands better sales overall. For both varieties, uncirculated pennies with higher grading command better prices.

Going by the PCGS and NGC records, the highest-valued 1945 D wheat penny sold for $14,400 in 2019 at the Heritage Auctions. This coin has an MS68RD grading, and its value increases because of its fine strike, vibrant color, and luster. It does not present any damages.

Other 1945 D wheat pennies with a five or four-figure sale and a high grading are in the table.

Sale Year Grade Price Firm
2019 MS68 $14,400 Heritage Auctions
2015 MS68 $14,100 Heritage Auctions
2014 MS67+ $2,585 Heritage Auctions
2014 MS67+ $2,115 Heritage Auctions
2015 MS67+ $1,469 Heritage Auctions

The 2023 sales for the 1945 D wheat penny vary between $19 for an MS66 penny that sold in February at David Lawrence RC and $186 for an MS67 penny that sold in January at the Heritage Auctions.

1945 S Wheat Penny Value

1945 S Penny

The San Francisco 1945 S penny value has remained at a fair range so far, managing only less than ten sales with over $1000 price.

To date, the highest value for the 1945 S wheat penny is for a cent struck over a Netherlands East Indies Tenth Gulden. The coin is graded AU58 and sold for $7,050 at the Heritage Auctions in 2015.

Other premium sales for the 1945 S wheat penny are solely based on coin grading and include these five.

Sale Year Grade Price Firm
2015 AU58 $7,050 Heritage Auctions
2015 MS67+ $2,174 Heritage Auctions
2015 MS67+ $2,115 Heritage Auctions
2014 MS67+ $1,880 Heritage Auctions
2016 MS67+ $1,763 Heritage Auctions

The 1945 S wheat penny sales in 2023 range between $47 for an MS67 penny sold in January at the Heritage Auctions and $870 for an MS67+ coin sold in August at the same firm.

1945 Penny Error list

If you check the description for the highest-selling 1945 pennies, you will learn that most are highly valued because they have a sharp strike and have kept their pristine condition.

These coins managed to come out of the dies without the damages associated with several 1944 and 1945 Lincoln wheat pennies. The Mint made the pennies with recycled material from munition shells. As a result, some have soapy spots and planchet hair lines.

Away from coin material quality, several 1945 Lincoln wheat cents also present mint errors. Luckily, these errors increase their value in the coin market.

Below is the 1945 penny error list with some of the more valued mint errors on the three varieties.

  • Penny struck on the wrong planchet.
  • Obverse cud die break error.
  • Double struck error.
  • Penny with obverse lamination before striking.
  • Off-center strike error.

1945 Penny Struck on the Wrong Planchet

1945 Penny Struck on the Wrong Planchet Error

Mint workers struck some 1945 Lincoln wheat pennies were struck on the wrong planchet. Usually, coins struck on the wrong planchet have all the design details.

Nonetheless, one of the 1945 S pennies struck over a Netherlands East Indies Tenth Gulden has rare design features of both the 1945 Lincoln wheat penny and the Netherlands coin. We referenced this coin earlier as the highest-valued 1945 S wheat penny, with a record sale of $7,050.

Higher sales of 1945 pennies struck on a Netherlands East Indies (N.I.E.) 1/2cent planchet range between $200 and a little over $900.

Below are some of the highest sales for the 1945 pennies struck on the N.I.E. 1/2cent planchet.

Sale Year Variety Grade Price Firm
2019 1945 (No mint mark) MS64 $930 Heritage Auctions
2019 1945 (No mint mark) MS65 $372 Heritage Auctions
2019 1945 (No mint mark) AU55 $276 Heritage Auctions

1945 Penny Obverse Cud Die Break Error

1945 Penny Obverse Cud Die Break Error

A cud or die break error appears like a splash on the coin edge. It happens when a piece of the die falls off due to an overused die or a coin sticking to the die.

A 1945 penny with a cud error on the obverse can sell for hundreds of dollars, even for a coin in the circulated condition. In 2021, a 1945 Lincoln wheat penny with an obverse cud die break error and an AU58 grading sold for $660 at the Heritage Auctions.

1945 Penny Double Struck Error

1945 Penny Double Struck Error

A double struck error gives a coin a rare appearance of two coins placed on each other without being aligned. This error happens when the coin fails to eject from the dies and gets a second strike.

A 1945 penny value can appreciate in value by a few hundred dollars if it has a double-struck error. One such cent sold for $480 at the Heritage Auctions in 2020. The circulated coin had an AU58 grading, and the second strike was 15% off-center

Penny with Obverse Lamination Before Striking

1945 Penny Obverse Lamination Before Striking Error

A coin lamination before striking error happens when foreign material sits on the coin’s surface before striking. This contaminates the coin’s metal and lowers its relief quality.

A coin lamination before striking error can increase the value of a circulated coin by tens of dollars. However, it can significantly decrease the value of an uncirculated coin in high grading.

A 1945 Lincoln wheat penny with an obverse lamination sold for $132 in 2020 at the Heritage Auctions. The coin had an MS65 grading.

1945 Penny Off-center Strike Error

1945 Penny Off-center Strike Error

1945 Lincoln wheat pennies with an off-strike error were struck on a misaligned planchet. As a result, a part of the coin does not bear the design.

In the coin market, the off-center strike error increases the 1945 penny value by one or two hundred dollars.

Below are some examples of the 1945 Lincoln wheat pennies with an off-center error and their sale prices.

Sale Year Variety Grade Off-center Error % Price Firm
2019 1945-D MS64 15% $264 Heritage Auctions
2019 1945-S MS64 20% $180 Heritage Auctions
2019 1945 (No mint mark) MS62 30% $156 Heritage Auctions

Other less valuable errors on the 1945 Lincoln wheat penny include:

  • Broad struck out of collar: A 1945 penny with this error sold for $91 in 2021 at the Heritage Auctions.
  • Broad struck with obverse blockage: A 1945 penny bearing this error sold for $94 in 2021 at the Heritage Auctions.

Final Thoughts

The Lincoln wheat series is one of the US coin series most sought after by coin collectors. This series bears the bust of a beloved former US President, Abraham Lincoln. Besides, coins in the series are available and affordable.

These emotive and mintage aspects defined the 1945 penny value. High-grade coins and those with errors from this year’s mintage also increase the coin’s value.

If your piggy bank has one of the 1945 Lincoln wheat pennies, you might just be sitting on thousands of dollars. Find it, and have it graded!

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