At first glance, the 1917 Lincoln penny may not seem like too big of a deal because it closely resembles the single-cent coin that is still in circulation today. With Lincoln’s head dominating one side of the coin, most people would be likely to agree. Upon closer look, however, the 1917 version of the coin is just a bit different than today’s interpretation. The sheer age of the coin makes it desirable to collectors, but the fact that there are only a limited number remaining really catches people’s attention.
The coin’s obverse is quite similar to today’s version in that it features Abraham Lincoln’s profile in the center, raised from the face of the coin. On the most well-preserved Lincoln pennies, his likeness still features fine details, including the contours of his cheekbones and texture of his hair. On the one side of Lincoln is a raised “Liberty” inscription, while the 1917 year of minting is off to the opposite side. Arching overtop of the President’s head is the phrase “In God We Trust.”
On the reverse side, the “One Cent” face value is spelled out right in the center. Underneath that you will see the words “United States of America.” Finally, the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” is arched overtop. On both the right and left sides of the reverse are two single wheat stalks. This is how the penny got to be called the “Wheat Penny.”
For collectors, the condition in which a coin as old as the 1917 Lincoln is in means everything. As such, the most stringent collectors will strive to only get their hands on the absolutely most pristine coins. In order to do this, they rely on grades. Below we will introduce you to a few different coin grades and discuss what the grades indicate.
Uncirculated: A coin that is graded Uncirculated is one that never spent any time exchanging hands or otherwise experiencing the wear and tear regularly associated with coins this old. Because of this, every raised aspect of the coin—down to the finest details—will have been perfectly preserved. Apart from some discoloration due to age, these coins will look and feel just as they did when they were minted.
Extremely Fine: An Extremely Fine grade means that the coin might have spent some time outside of safekeeping, but not very long at all. Though an inspector might be able to notice a scratch or two, these coins will appear to be in pristine condition when viewed with the naked eye.
Fine: A coin that is given the Fine grade is one that definitely spent time being circulated, but somehow managed to avoid becoming too badly damaged. Though you will definitely notice some wearing on the coin’s out edges, and perhaps even a few scratches or chips, most of the major features of the penny will be identifiable with the naked eye.
Good: Good is the lowest grade a coin can receive, and one that is indicative of a lot of wear. These coins may see some of the lettering and images worn away completely due to the breaking down that occurs with coins that are in circulation for an extended period of time. Still, a 1917 Lincoln is quite rare, and therefore still collectible in the worst of conditions.
The 1917 Lincoln penny’s price is something that depends on both the condition, or grade, and the type it is. Because most years saw 3 different types of this coin minted, there will be 3 different values for 2 pennies from the same year. The chart below will give you a better idea as to the value of these coins.
|1917 Lincoln Penny||$0.30||$0.50||$4||$10|
|1917 Lincoln Penny (D)||$0.80||$1.75||$35||$50|
|1917 Lincoln Penny (S)||$0.50||$1||$10||$25||Source: Red Book|