Of the many things the '70s are known for, pennies aren't exactly one of them. Yet, there are a handful of valuable pennies from the 1970s that you should keep a lookout for. From exquisite proof pennies to rare small date prints, these are the most valuable '70s pennies you'd be lucky to find.
5 Most Valuable '70s Pennies
The five most valuable 1970s pennies are small but mighty. Bringing in record prices in the $10,000-$20,000 range, these pennies are well worth forgoing telling your cashier to 'keep the change.'
|Most Valuable 1970s Pennies||Record Sales Prices|
|1970-S Large Date Doubled Die Obverse||$24,150|
|1970-S Small Date||$18,400|
|1971-S Deep Cameo Proof||$17,250|
|1974-S Reverse Brockage of 1973-S||$11,400|
|1971-S Doubled Die Obverse||$10,350|
1970-S Large Date Penny
Pennies minted in 1970 are some of the more unusual prints from the 20th century. Two distinct types were minted - large date and small date. To the naked, untrained eye, there's not much of a difference between the two. However, when you look at them under a magnifying glass, you can see that the large date pennies have the 7 mostly level with the rest of the numbers.
If you can find large date pennies with mistakes made during printing, then you're in luck. One of the most valuable is a doubled die obverse proof penny. Proof pennies have particularly high contrast and are the highest quality sets available. One of these rare pennies sold in 2001 for $24,150.
1970-S Small Date Penny
The small date 1970 penny is much more valuable than its large date sibling. According to Dave's Collectible Coins, the way collectors discern the two is by looking for a 9 in the date that "shows the tail of the upper loop tapered more to a point and curved up slightly higher than on the large date version." Similarly, the word Liberty is printed less sharply than on larger date varieties. For example, one proof example sold in 2005 for $18,400.
1971-S Deep Cameo Proof Penny
As we mentioned earlier, proof coins are the most beautiful and perfectly minted coins possible. Of course, there's a hierarchy even among proofs of which ones are worth more and more visually pleasing. The 1971-S penny is one of these superb proofs. Heritage Auctions, which sold a copy in 2004 for $17,250, described this proof as being "heavily frosted" with a "pinkish-gold" color. Currently, there's none graded higher than this specific coin.
1974-S Reverse Brockage of 1973-S Penny
Not many 1970s brockage coins come up for auction in such a good condition as this 1974-S penny. Graded a high 64, this penny sold for $11,400 through Heritage Auctions in 2020. What makes brockage coins special is that they have the expected designs on one side of the coin and have the mirror reverse on the other. For instance, this specific 1974-S penny has the standard printed Lincoln portrait on the front and then the backwards 1973 Lincoln design on the reverse. Brockages can be a rare deformity that happens when the die gets stuck, so they can turn out to be quite valuable.
1971-S Doubled Die Obverse Penny
Another thing to look for in vintage pennies are double die mistakes. This happens when the metal gets struck multiple times by the die (the design stamp) on either the obverse, reverse, or both sides. What results is a sharper relief and sometimes a wonky positioning. High-quality double die mistakes can sell for high amounts, like this graded 65, 1971 penny that sold in 2005 for $10,350.
Things to Look for When Perusing Old Pennies
Although it's a pretty rare thing to find '70s pennies as valuable as the ones on this list, you can still make out a few thousand dollars richer if you find the right penny in your pocket. Look for these specific characteristics when browsing through your loose change.
- Look for pennies with the same design printed on both sides.
- Look for minting mistakes like double dieing, strike errors, and so on. All of these will have some obvious visual anomaly to them.
- Find small print pennies from 1970.
- Snatch up proof pennies that might have made their way into circulation. These are usually made as collector's items, so they have a lot of resale potential.
See a Penny, Pick It Up
Unlike 2 dollar bills, pennies don't garner a ton of interest. They're commonplace and take up space in piggy banks and coin purses. But on the rare occasion, a vintage penny will draw buyer interest. These '70s pennies are just a few of the many vintage one cent coins that'll pull collectors - and their wallets - in the room.