How Much Is A 1978 Penny Worth?

The 1978 penny had a mintage of 5.6 million and one would think ideally, there should be enough for everyone right?

Well, not quite. Even with such amount, it’s been almost 50 years since it was first introduced into circulation and all the wear should have caused irreversible damage to the 1978 penny making them harder to find in circulation.

This means that if you find one in fine to mint condition, you might have a really valuable piece in your hand.

At this point, you might be wondering How much is a 1978 penny worth? We will answer this question and more in this post.

The 1978 Penny

The 1978 Penny

The 1978 penny features the bust of America’s sixteenth president, President Lincoln.

Asides from the profile of Abraham Lincoln, It has some interesting features that distinguish it from other pennies. But before getting into that, it should be worth knowing some background history of the piece.

History

It was the year 1968 and Henry H Fowler who was the secretary of the treasurer asked then-president Lyndon B Johnson to approve a new design for the penny that would commemorate and honor former US president Abraham Lincoln on the 150th anniversary of his birth(1909).

As soon as it was approved, the United States began producing these coins. Before long, they were released into circulation in 1979 soon followed by the 1970 penny.

The bust/portrait of Abraham Lincoln that was used was based on the sculpture of the famous David Brenner.

However, ten years later they issued a new design for the penny. The new design had the Lincoln memorial on the tail side of the coin while the words “in God we trust” was added just above the portrait of Lincoln on the top part of the coin.

A very fun fact about the 1978 penny was that it was one of the first United States penny to feature a portrait of any president on its obverse(heads). Not to mention it was also the last coin to be minted and circulated with the original penny composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc.

Another fun fact is that this year’s mintage had many defects/errors. So the 1978 penny was filled with errors including double struck and off-center strikes.

Double-struck means the penny was struck on a copper-nickel blend instead of a copper blend. Coins like this were known to look a lot like old dimes. On the other hand, off-center strikes cause a flat area on the coin without detail.

Types

Like other coins, the 1978 penny is typed based on where it was minted. It has two types indicating where it was minted; There is the 1978 penny from Philadelphia with no noticeable mint mark, the 1978-D penny with mintage from Denver, and the 1978-s penny from San Francisco.

Interestingly, most of the 1978 Pennies that were minted had no mint mark indicating where they were minted as was mentioned earlier. But it should be noted that those without a mint mark were minted in Philadelphia.

That being said, if they (the mintmarks) were present, you will find them on the top of the coin which is the obverse side just below the date.

Features of a 1978 Penny

The 1978 penny was America’s way of paying homage to a remarkable president. That’s why it comes as no surprise that it features his portrait at the front and center.

Unfortunately, the 1978 penny also had a lot of defects. Starting with the features, the 1978 penny was of course copper-colored due to its constituents; 95% copper and 5% zinc.

Although many of them were produced without any mintmarks i.e. the markings that indicated where they were minted, others do have their mint mark right below the date on the obverse side of the coin.

On the reverse side, there is the Lincoln Memorial and the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” engraved at the top of Lincoln’s head on the obverse side. It also has a total weight of 3.11grams.

As for the defects, which are commonly described as the common errors, you’ll notice features such as the chin, eyes, and ears that are missing on Abraham Lincoln’s profile.

You might also notice some cracks or bulbs on the image.

The reason for these defects is that back in the 70s coiners were still punching in the mint dates by hand. This of course gave room to defects. There are even some instances where the coiners try to do damage control by wiping off their mistakes.

Sometimes, it worked. Other times, one was still able to see the previous mistakes.

How Rare is a 1978 Penny?

The 1978 penny had a huge mintage which means that there was more than enough in circulation at that time even now. However, there is a scarcity of mint grade 1978 pennies.

Obviously, over the years, the coin has experienced a lot of wear and tear and will look nothing like how it was before. That’s why although you should get a decent value if you ever want to sell your 1978 penny, you still won’t get as much except if it’s in mint condition.

How Much is Your 1978 Penny Worth?

Simply put that the worth of your coin strongly depends on the grade of the coin. If it is in good condition, you might get a fair price of about 1cent.

However, in uncirculated condition (which means the coin still retains the features it had when it was first circulated or it was never circulated.) The coin can fetch up to $9 in auctions.

Also, where they were minted can also affect their worth. A 1978 penny that’s lacking a mint mark and a 1978-D penny, will fetch the same price when in uncirculated condition and that is $0.30. As for a 1978-p penny, it’s worth about $2.50.

All 1978 pennies are worth more than face value.

Grading Conditions

There are 5 factors that determine the grade of a coin; luster, clarity, strike, preservation, and attractiveness.

Most of the best quality coins you will find fall under the MS-65 and PR grades

The MS-65 might be uncirculated and they possess a few light contact marks that can go unnoticed. While the PR is a flawless coin. Some do have a few blemishes but that’s about it.

The 1978 Penny Value

Even though the 1978 penny was produced in a large quantity, with an increase in the price of copper, it became too expensive to continue to mint and because of this, the format which for years was used in making coins was scrapped in 1982.

The price of copper has doubled in value since then, meaning if you find yourself in possession of a 1978 penny, it’s worth more than its given value.

Since it’s been 40 years since the coin was initially minted, it’s difficult to find one still in pristine condition. Nevertheless, it’s still a great addition to anybody’s collection.

The most sought-after coin are those in mint/uncirculated condition or MS-65 condition. But there have been coins with defects that have fetched higher price before. The reason is that coins with certain errors are very rare to find.

1978 Penny Value (No Mint mark)

1978 Penny Value (No Mint mark)

It’s worth knowing that the 1978 penny is only worth the value of its weight in copper.

We previously mentioned that copper is now rarer and more valuable than it was in the 70s. So it only makes sense to quantify the value of the 1978 penny on its constituents (whereby the 1978 penny was made with 95% copper).

But luckily for you, if you do have a 1975 nickel, it’s not being sold at face value so you actually can turn a profit.

The 1978 penny with no mint mark were coins that were minted in Philadelphia. One sold for $2.09 in good condition while another with errors sold for $80.

In 2014, the highest price ever paid for a 1978- penny with no mint mark was exactly $4259 and it was the amount made from an auction.

Why was the coin sold for such a large amount? This is because it was graded MS-67+RD by a professional coin grader.

1978 D-Penny Value

1978 D-Penny Value

The 1978 d penny bears the mint mark indicating they were minted in Denver.

They go for about $1.25 in circulated condition while the ones in uncirculated conditions can sell for as much as $3.47.

However, anyone in good condition will sell for much lower than the stated prices. The most expensive 1978 d Penny sold at about $500 in a 2008 auction.

1978-S Penny value

1978-S Penny value

The 1978-s penny costs more than its counterparts. It goes for twice as much as them in PR65 condition which is odd considering the 1978 pennies in MS-65 condition are the most sought-after 1978 pennies. Here is one that sold at $4.32.

This is because the US Mint in San Francisco struck a limited number of special collectors editions which instead of being sold to the public or released into circulation were sold to private collectors. These series of 1978 pennies are known as the proof series.

They were made specially and polished to perfection, struck twice on high tonnage coin presses to bring out the detailing in the coin. All this attention to detail produces a highly reflective penny.

It goes without saying that this valuable 1978 penny will go for a much larger price.

But Even though they were a special limited edition, they are in no way hard to find as they were still minted in their millions.

The highest price ever paid for the 1978-s penny was $4313. That’s top dollar for a single penny, and it was during a 2008 auction.

Unique features value

It’s been mentioned already that many of the coins that were minted in the 70s came out with errors or defects. Well depending on the rarity, these defective mints can also fetch a good price as there’s a 1978 error list for coins that are in demand.

For example, double die pennies are often worth $25 to as much as $50. Repunched coins, depending on their repunch marks are worth more than regular ones.

Basically, the price of any defective coin is mainly based on the defect and the extent of its demand.

Where to Sell Your 1978 Penny

Before you make the move to sell your 1978 penny it is important to know that the prices vary depending on the platform you chose. Luckily for you, there are many options out there so you can get the best value you can find

There is the local coin shop that sells coins to avid coin collectors, here they can help you grade your coin and discuss how much it’s worth overall.

However, it’s much less profitable to sell to a coin shop. A better alternative will be to sell to online platforms.

eBay is the best and most popular platform where you can sell your coin. But if you’re not feeling the crowd over there, you can try other online platforms like Etsy and Heritage Auctions. Here you might be able to get good money for your coin.

To make sure you are getting your money’s worth for your coin, you should get your coin appraisal from a professional.

Regardless, a coin shop is best for accessibility and convenience but an online shop is where to get more value.

Wrapping Up

The 1978 penny was minted to honor a great president. Despite its several defects, the coin holds a special place in the heart of every coin collector.

Still, it’s still a pretty valuable piece to have in anyone’s collection that even the defective ones are still selling at great prices and with the increased provenance of copper, it’s more expensive to own.

It was produced in a large quantity so the number values won’t be a problem for buyers but there is the problem of finding one that’s in uncirculated condition or fine condition. Still possible but it will fetch a much higher price.

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