As far as iconic pieces of US coinage are concerned, few coins fit the bill better than the 1938 Lincoln penny. Though, technically, there are still Lincoln pennies around today, those from the 1930s and earlier are the pieces that collectors want to get their hands on. Whether they have been well-preserved or heavily circulated, the fact of the matter is that collector’s strive to get their hands on these coins.
On the obverse side of the 1938 Lincoln, you will notice that the center is dominated by the profile of Abraham Lincoln, depicted in incredible detail. Immediately to the left of t he President’s image is a raised inscription which reads, “Liberty.” Opposite this inscription is one that marks the 1938 year of minting. Finally, the phrase “In God We Trust” is arching overtop of the obverse.
The coin’s reverse features two inscriptions in the center, one that reads “United States of America,” and one that reads “One Cent.” Directly to the left and the right of the central inscriptions are tow single stalks of wheat. Arching overtop is the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum.”
For collectors, the condition a 1938 Lincoln penny is in means absolutely everything. As such, it goes without saying that collectors only want to get their hands on the coins that have been well-preserved throughout the years. Because of this, the coins that have received the highest grades are determined to be the more desirable. Below you will find an outline of the different coin grades as well as what they mean for a 1938 Lincoln.
Uncirculated: A coin that is determined to be of Uncirculated grade is one that never spent any time exchanging hands on the open market. Thanks to this, the coin’s surfaces are in absolutely flawless condition. Even though the coin’s color might have faded a bit, its condition is perfect.
Extremely Fine: A coin that is determined to be of Extremely Fine grade will be in great condition, however the grading process will reveal one or two minor imperfections. These imperfections might be as small as a single scratch, but even this is enough to take away from the coin’s value.
Fine: A coin that is determined to be of Fine grade is one that spent time in circulation and has accrued a bit of damage. To the naked eye, you will notice scratching, smoothing, and other common signs of wear and tear. Despite this, the raised aspects and features of the coin will still be perfectly intact.
Good: A coin that is determined to be of Good grade is one that was heavily circulated for most of its existence. These coins will show a lot of signs of heavy use, ranging from significant scratching to the complete smoothing of some of the surface features.
When it comes to assigning nominal value to a 1938 Lincoln penny, this is something that depends upon the coin’s grade as well as the type. Because there were up to 3 types of Lincoln pennies minted each year, you may have 3 different values for 3 coins of the same grade. Below is a chart that will help give you a better idea of what a 1938 Lincoln penny is valued at given the type and condition.
|1938 Lincoln Penny||$0.15||$0.30||$1||$2|
|1938 Lincoln Penny (D)||$0.20||$0.50||$1.25||$3|
|1938 Lincoln Penny (S)||$0.40||$0.60||$1.10||$3||Source: Red Book|