The Lincoln penny is an iconic piece of US currency, and the version from 1920 is especially desirable for collectors. At first glance, you might mistake the 1920 Lincoln for a modern day coin, but upon closer inspection you will see there are subtle differences. It is these subtle differences and the age that makes the 1920 Lincoln penny a must-have for any collector.
The coin’s obverse side is a lot like the modern penny in that it is dominated in the center by Abraham Lincoln’s profile. There are raised inscriptions on either side of the former President. On his left, you will notice the word “Liberty,” while the 1920 year of minting is off to his right. Arching across the top outer edge of the coin are the words “In God We Trust.”
The reverse side of the coin does not have an image in the center, but rather two phrases. First, is the “One Cent” face value which is followed by an inscription reading “United States of America.” Overtop, you will see the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum.” On both the right and left outer edges of the reverse are two single stalks of wheat. This is why this penny is sometimes referred to as the “Wheat Penny.”
For collectors, having a 1920 Lincoln penny is not enough; they need to have the coins that are the most well-preserved. Determining the precise condition of a coin is something achieved through grading. Essentially, grading involves an expert closely examining the coin and ultimately giving it an official grade, which is nothing more than a one-word explanation of its condition. Below will be a description of the different coin grades as well as what they mean.
Uncirculated: A coin that receives an Uncirculated grade is one that has never spent any time exchanging hands. As a result of this, the raised aspects of the coin will be perfectly preserved and look a lot like it did the day it was created. Though the coin’s color might be a bit faded due to age, the coin is in perfect condition other than that.
Extremely Fine: A coin worthy of an Extremely Fine grade is one that might have spent a bit of time in circulation, but will show almost no signs of damage. Under extremely close inspection the coin might show a small scratch, but when viewed with the naked eye these pieces will appear to be in near perfect condition.
Fine: A 1920 Lincoln penny that is given a Fine grade was likely circulated for a good amount of time, but is still decently preserved. You will notice some smoothing of the raised aspects of the outer edges, however all of the main imagery and lettering will still be plainly visible.
Good: A Good grade is indicative of a coin that has been heavily circulated and shows signs of that circulation. Having exchanged hands over multiple decades, there will be plenty of visible signs of damage. In fact, some of the lettering and some of the finer details might be worn away entirely.
When it comes to the value of a 1920 Lincoln penny, this is decided by both the type and grade of the coin. Being that most years saw 3 types of pennies minted, there will be plenty of different values given to pennies of the same grade. Below is a chart that will help you understand the value of a 1920 Lincoln penny given its type and grade.
|1920 Lincoln Penny||$0.20||$0.35||$2.25||$4|
|1920 Lincoln Penny (D)||$1||$3||$19||$40|
|1920 Lincoln Penny (S)||$0.50||$1.50||$10||$35||Source: Red Book|