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1969 Penny Value

This article provides details about evaluating a 1969 penny and which aspects affect its price. It includes an error list and 1969 penny value guides for Regular Strikes and Proof.

Understanding the value of coins like the Lincoln cent allows collectors and enthusiasts to identify rare or valuable pieces, helping them build meaningful collections.

Key Takeaways

  • The Lincoln Cents are one of the most popular coins among collectors, especially because it was the first time a real person was featured in a US circulating coin;
  • The value of a 1969 Lincoln Penny will vary depending mainly on its condition and coloration;
  • Regular Strikes of the 1969 penny in mint state are worth between $10 and $10,000 depending on the color and condition of the specimen.
  • The most famous error coin from the Lincoln penny is the 1969-S Doubled Die Error, Lincoln Penny, with prices ranging from $31,500 to $605,000;

History of the 1969 penny

The Lincoln penny is a one-cent coin first produced by the United States Mint in 1909 as a tribute from Roosevelt, the US President at the time, to his fellow Republican, former President Abraham Lincoln, who features on the coin

Abraham Lincoln's Portrait

Source

It replaced the Indian Head cent and broke a tradition in American coinage, as circulation coins had never featured a real person.

The first reverse design featured two ears of wheat, which gave the coin the Wheat Penny or Wheat Cent moniker.

The US Mint introduced the Lincoln Memorial design on the reverse in 1959.

1969 Lincoln Cent (Penny)

Face Value

1 United States Cent (.01 US Dollars)

Mass

0.0999 troy ounces ( 3.11 grams)

Diameter

0.748 inches (19.00 mm)

Thickness

0.061 inches (1.55 mm)

Composition

95% Copper, 5% Zinc 

Obverse

Design

Abraham Lincoln

Designer

Victor D. Brenner (1909)

Reverse

Design

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Designer

Frank Gasparro (1959)

Mint marks

D (Denver)

S (San Francisco)

Design

1969 Penny Design

Source

The design of the Lincoln coin was first introduced in the US in 1909 to celebrate the centennial year of his birth.

The coin's obverse side shows President Abraham Lincoln's bust, a creation by artist Victor David Brenner. Above his image is the American motto: IN GOD, WE TRUST. At his left is the inscription LIBERTY, and at right is the minting year, 1969.

The Lincoln Memorial on the coin's reverse, still present today, was first released in 1959 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. The imagery represents Lincoln Memorial Hall, which honors the former president's legacy. Behind the columns, a tiny visage portrays Lincoln seated, a representation of the 19-foot-tall statue at the Lincoln Memorial Hall.

Above the Lincoln Memorial design, there are the inscriptions E PLURIBUS UNUM, which means "OUT OF MANY, ONE.”

Lincoln was the first president to ever appear on widely circulating American coinage.

Factors Affecting 1969 Penny Value

Mint Marks

The 1969 pennies were minted in Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco Mints. Mint marks are relevant to Lincoln cent prices because they indicate where a coin was struck, influencing factors such as scarcity, collectibility, condition rarity, and historical significance.

1969-S Penny Mint Mark

Source

Certain mint marks are rarer due to varying mintages, driving up demand and prices for coins from specific US Mint branches.

Rarity

1969 Lincoln Memorial coins aren’t particularly rare. The original mintage from the Philadelphia Mint was 1,136,910,000 units. Denver produced the highest number, with 4,002,832,200 coins struck. San Francisco had the smallest mintage figure, with 544,375,000 specimens released to public circulation.

However, the surviving population of these coins in Superb Gem condition and with their original red mint coloration is really scarce. Only a handful of the 1969-S Penny were found in MS-68 grade, and PCGS prices them at $10,000!

Unfortunately, the enhanced details in Lincoln's portrait make contact marks more prominent, restricting the availability of coins in very high grades.

Understand below how coin grading affects a coin's value.

Coin Grading

Coin grading is the process of evaluating a coin's condition and grading it based on a numerical scale.

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is one of the leading authorities in coin grading. It follows the Sheldon Scale, which was developed by Dr. William Sheldon in 1948. The scale ranges from 1 to 70, with 1 representing a heavily worn and damaged coin and 70 representing a coin in perfect mint condition.

Sheldon Coin Grading Scale

The importance of coin grading in assessing a coin's value lies in the fact that collectors and dealers rely on graded coins to represent their condition accurately. A higher grade typically commands a higher value in the market if compared to circulated grades (1 to 50) due to its rarity and desirability among collectors.

Grading also provides a standardized universal way to communicate a coin's condition, facilitating fair transactions and ensuring transparency in the marketplace.

Nevertheless, the coin will still retain its face value of approximately 1 cent in an average circulated condition.

Additionally, even in circulated conditions or low rarity cases, graded coins are often more liquid and easier to trade, as their condition is certified by a reputable grading service like PCGS, and they are often encapsulated in protective slabs.

Color Designations

Copper coins are characterized by their hues as Red, Red-Brown, and Brown. These classifications were established by professional numismatists and are based on how their composition reacts to varying degrees of environmental exposure since it begins oxidizing the moment it hits the air.

Read further to understand what each color means and how the colors of Lincoln cents affect their value:

RED (RD)

A 1969 Penny is mostly made of copper. Therefore, despite the fact that it contains 5% Zinc, it displays a red hue when recently minted. PCGS classifies copper coins as “Red” when they still display 95% or more of their original mint red hue.

Consequently, the coin retains a red coloration due to Copper's inherent reddish hue, particularly evident when freshly minted. So, the color of these coins tells us not only what the coin is made of but also what it has been through.

1969 Penny Red Coloration

Source

So, for coin collectors, a penny that still has a reddish tone is a coin that has not been in circulation or heavily exposed to air. Sometimes, the red color also indicates the coin's general condition, like less wear or dents.

And the better the condition, the higher the price a 1969 Penny can fetch in the open market.

RED-BROWN (RB)

1969 Penny Red-Brown Coloration

Source

PCGS categorizes copper coins as Red and Brown when they grade MS60 or higher and retain between 5% and 95% of their original mint red color. A Red-Brown coin still shows a little bit of its red hue, but oxidation has started to show its colors, indicating a more circulated condition, which brings down the price for most collectors.

BROWN (BN)

1969 Lincoln Penny Brown Coloration

Source

PCGS designates Brown for copper coins that display less than 5% of their original mint red color.

Certainly, several factors influence the desirability of copper coins, yet many collectors tend to favor the Red ones as they typically exhibit less wear compared to their counterparts. While color preference varies among collectors, Red specimens often command higher prices. Which makes Brown fall into a low value in general.

Understanding the distinct colors of copper coins can also serve as a safeguard against counterfeit coins, as each condition typically presents a specific tone that collectors can anticipate.

Proof coins

In 1969, the San Francisco Mint struck both regular Strike pennies and proofs. These Lincoln Proof coins have a similar grading system that goes from 1 to 70 but receive the abbreviation PR.

While business strikes are classified as Mint State and are abbreviated with MS, which indicates the coin's condition, PR coins are classified like that because of their special minting process.

As mentioned before, color is a big deal for copper coins. Since the cameo effect is crucial to proof coin collectors, coins can also be given a CAM or DCAM designation.

CAMEO

PCGS designates "Cameo" for brilliant proofs exhibiting light to moderate frosting of the devices. To qualify for the Cameo (or CAM) designation, both sides of the coin must feature frosted devices.

1969 Lincoln Penny Proof Coin

Source

A proof version of the 1969-S penny

DEEP-CAMEO

PCGS designates Deep Cameo for brilliant proofs that display deep, even frosting on the devices of both sides of the coin.

1969 Lincoln Penny Proof Coin DCAM

Source

Notice that the deep cameo has a more frosted look. In coin collecting, such details affect the coin's value. The Deep Cameo coins show more contrasts between the high points and other design elements. Such detail makes the coin more eye-appealing and consequently more expensive.

According to PCGS, the auction record for a Deep Cameo PR69 was $1,725 in 2010 at Heritage Auctions, while its Cameo counterpart, also graded as PR69, was $108 in 2014 at eBay.

Error Coins

1969-S DDO Lincoln Penny

This is the most outstanding error in Lincoln coins because of its story. At some point, they were believed to be counterfeited, which led the Secret Service to destroy many of the actual error coins, making the error even rarer.

1969-S DDO Lincoln Penny

Source

The image shows details of the doubling and a close look on the S Mint mark.

A real 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse cent will not have the doubling on the mintmark since it was punched in separately. Another hint is the strong doubling on the date and the inscriptions LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST.

The PCGS Price Guide outlines a high market value range for coins in mint state, spanning from $31,500 if graded MS-60 to $605,000 if graded MS-66!

Notably, the auction record for this error coin, as per the PCGS database, dates back to 2008. During that year, an MS64 specimen commanded a significant sum of $126,500 at Heritage Auctions, featuring among the most valuable pennies ever sold!

1969-D "No FG" Lincoln Penny

1969 Lincoln Penny Without "FG"

Source

An example of the "No FG" 1969 D penny

Frank Gasparro crafted the reverse side of the Lincoln Memorial pennies, positioning his initials, FG, to the right of the memorial hall near the staircase.

Nonetheless, certain Lincoln pennies minted in 1969 at the Denver facility lack these initials due to errors in the minting process.

The most recent auction record for this penny error, graded MS62, dates back to 2014 at Great Collections, where it fetched $198.

However, according to the PCGS price guide, prices for Uncirculated coins can range from $60 to $210.

Check out our list of the Top 20 Error Coins worth money.

1969 Penny Value Chart

The following information pertains only to PCGS-graded coins. It serves as a tool for assessing a coin's value but does not reflect with one-hundred percent accuracy the actual values you may find within the private coin-collecting market.

Type 3, Memorial Reverse (Copper), Regular Strikes

Date

Color

MS64

MS 65

MS66

MS67

MS68

1969

Red

$12

$20

$44

$575

-

1969-D

Brown

$2

$2

-

-

-

1969-D No FG FS-901

Brown

$150

$210

-

-

-

1969-D

Red-Brown

$3

$1

$8

-

-

1969-D No FG FS-901

Red-Brown

$200

$325

-

-

-

1969-D

Red

$8

$20

$36

$325

-

1969-D No FG FS-901

Red

$210

$360

$650

-

-

1969-S

Red

$16

$24

$85

$4,250

$10,000

 

Type 3, Memorial Reverse (Copper), Error Coins 

Date

Color

MS62

MS 63

MS64

MS65

MS66

1969-S Doubled Die Obverse

about 30 known

Brown

$35,000

$41,000

-

-

-

1969-S Doubled Die Obverse

Red-Brown

$36,000

$46,500

$60,000

-

-

1969-S Doubled Die Obverse

Red

$38,000

$48,500

$62,500

$250,000

$605,000

1969-D No FG FS-901

Brown

$80

$100

$150

$210

-

1969-D No FG FS-901

Red-Brown

$90

$110

$200

$325

-

1969-D No FG FS-901

Red

$95

$115

$210

$360

$650

 

Type 3, Memorial Reverse (Copper), Proof

Date

Designation

MS64

MS 65

MS66

MS67

MS68

MS69

1969-S

Red

$6

$7

$8

$12

$20 

$32

1969-S

Cameo

$12

$15

$16

$20

$28

$60

1969-S

Deep Cameo

$15

$22

$27

$32

$65

$625

Data From PCGS

Final Thoughts

In this article, we provide the range of prices for the 1969 Lincoln Cent, including the proof, regular strikes, and error coins, according to PCGS-graded coins.

You also learned that factors like different market trends, collector’s interest, coin color, and grading play a significant part in their prices since graded coins offer more safety within the coin-collecting community. We hope to have clarified your questions about the 1969 Lincoln Penny and helped you with your coin collection.

FAQs

Are 1969 pennies valuable?

Uncirculated 1969 pennies (Regular Strikes) from the Denver Mint are typically valued around $5, especially if they exhibit vibrant Red or Red-Brown colors. Exceptional examples with original luster and superior eye appeal (graded MS67) can command prices as high as $8,000.

Meanwhile, Red 1969 pennies from the San Francisco Mint, particularly in near-pristine condition (graded MS68), can fetch prices of up to $10,000, provided they have minimal distracting marks or imperfections.

1969 Red pennies from the Philadelphia Mint have values ranging from around $6 for lower grades to as much as $575 for coins at the highest grade (MS67).

What is a floating roof on a 1969 penny?

The "floating roof" is often discussed as a potential variety of the 1969 penny, characterized by a visually detached or partially separated roof on the reverse side. However, as of April 2024, this specific variety has not been officially documented in registries maintained by leading grading services such as PCGS or NGC. Check the NCG official guide of NGC-recognized varieties of the 1969 Lincoln Cent.

Nevertheless, if the coin is a fake variety, it can be worth noting or has no premium, which means it would have no added value if it is just a regular 1969 penny.

Are there any errors on a 1969 penny?

The two known errors in the 1969 Penny series are the " 1969 S Double Die Obverse" and the "1969 D NO "FG" Penny. The doubled die mint error has strong doubling evident on the inscriptions "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY," and the date. This variety is highly sought after and quite rare errors. The No FG variety is distinguishable for the missing Frank Gasparro initials on the reverse. Many professionals believe that the die was overpolished, erasing by accident the designer's monogram.

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Mo Menezes
Mo Menezes
Researcher and Contributor

Murilo (Mo) Menezes is an attorney and tenured English professor. His passion for economics and coinage led him to the gold and silver industry where he writes in-depth articles about collectible coins; as well as coin news and investing articles...

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