Is a 1917 Penny Rare

Terry Hurley
Learn more about rare pennies.

Perhaps you found a jar of change in a dresser drawer, looked through it and found yourself wondering "is a 1917 penny rare?" Holding the old penny in your hand you envision it as a rare coin worth hundreds, or maybe even thousands of dollars. Your excitement quickly fads as you investigate the value of the coin, realizing that although it is worth more than a penny it is not a rare coin.

Answering the Question Is a 1917 Penny Rare?

Although Lincoln head 1917 wheat pennies are not rare, they are considered collectible. In 1917 there were more than 284 million pennies minted:

  • 196 million in the Philadelphia mint
  • 55 million in the Denver mint
  • 33 million in the San Francisco mint

The value of the penny depends on several factors:

  • Condition - also called grade or state of preservation
  • Mint location
  • Rarity
  • Demand

Actually, there are some Lincoln 1917 wheat pennies that are worth hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars. However, these coins are graded in the high 60s to 70, on a scale of 1-70. Most of the older coins that have been in circulation are graded at a 4, which is good, to 12, which is fine. A coin with a grade of 4 is heavily worn with the legend and design still visible. It may appear dull with lettering worn smooth and have faded areas. A grade 12 coin has strong, sharp and defined details on the areas of the coin that are, or should be, raised.

Wholesale and Retail Value of a 1917 Penny

Just like all collectibles, coins have a wholesale value and a retail value. The wholesale is the price a coin dealer pays to buy a coin. Retail is the price the dealer charges when he sells the coin.

The wholesale worth of the majority of 1917 penny ranges from approximately $.15 to $.46 in good condition, $.25 to $1.42 in fine condition and $3.17 to $18.57 in extremely fine condition. If the penny is uncirculated, the wholesale value is much higher, ranging from $17 to $42.

The retail value of the coin, or dealer pricing, although higher then the wholesale price will vary based on the individual dealer. Generally, the coins will have a retail price that is three to four times the wholesale value.

Determining the Value of a Coin

There are several methods you can use to determine the value of an old coin, such as a 1917 penny.

Online Auctions

Look on eBay to see the selling price of the same kind of coin. It is important to check the completed auctions in the section called Coins and Paper Money. Find a coin that is in the same condition as the one you have and you will have an idea of the current actual prices the coin is bringing when sold at auction.

Online Resources

Check for the value of the coin on websites that give coin values. There are specific websites that provide wholesale and retail coin pricing.

  • An excellent resource Best Coin provides valuable information on a number of topics of interest to collectors of coins and paper money including:
    • Coin and currency values
    • Grading information and charts
    • Dealer directory
    • Links to other numismatic websites
  • Professional Coin Grading Service is a leading name in coin collecting and is considered the industry standard by many collectors for third party certification. The following are several of the additional services provided by PCGS:
    • Price guide
    • Population report on each United Stated coin minted
    • Coin prices realized at auctions
    • Dealer listing
  • Coin Facts provides information on each of the United States coins minted including:
    • Interesting facts
    • Auction information
    • Coin sighting of rare coins including dates seen and prices realized

    Price Guides

    Find the value by using a coin collector's price guide which are available in bookstores and libraries.
  • JP's Corner offers the latest in coin collecting supplies and price guides including:
    • The 2010 Whiteman Red Book Price Guide edited by Kenneth Bresset which is available in hardbound, spiral and large print versions.
    • 2009 Official Blackbook Price Guide of U.S. Coins by Tom Hudgeons, Tom Hudgeons Jr. And Marc Hudgeons
    • 2010 Official Blue Book of United States Coins edited by Kenneth Bresset

    Finding the answer to the question is a 1917 penny rare? may spark an interest in the values of old coins that could lead to the fascinating hobby of coin collecting..
Is a 1917 Penny Rare