In 1973, the rising cost of copper led the United States to switch to aluminum as the primary metal for making coins. However, this decision faced significant opposition from many individuals, prompting the reintroduction of brass (copper, tin, and zinc) for producing penny coins.
While the 1973 Lincoln penny is not considered rare, collectors who appreciate coins with interesting histories often include them in their collections, particularly focusing on uncirculated coins or those with errors. The value of these coins can range from $0.05 to $3,500, with the significant difference depending on factors such as their condition, color, Error, and level of circulation.
Interestingly, a small number of aluminum coins dated 1973 were intended to enter circulation in 1974 but were ultimately withdrawn. While records regarding these aluminum coins are scarce, it is known that they cannot be legally sold or auctioned. Now, let’s delve deeper into the details surrounding the 1973 penny.
Table of Contents
- 1 The 1973 Penny – History, Composition & Design
- 2 1973 Penny Value
- 3 1973 Penny Mintage: Value Guide
- 4 1973 Lincoln Penny Error List
- 5 1973 Lincoln penny FAQs
- 6 The 1973 Lincoln Memorial Penny – A Coin with a Story:
The 1973 Penny – History, Composition & Design
Although the 1973 Lincoln penny is considered a rather ordinary coin, collectors are particularly interested in acquiring uncirculated coins, proof coins, or those with minting errors. Let’s explore some additional details about this intriguing penny.
History & Composition of the 1973 Penny
The 1973 penny was a memorial coin made of copper initially launched in 1959.
By 1973, the price of copper started rising – and people began hoarding the coins simply for the material. So a new decision was made – to make pennies with aluminum. About 1.5 million aluminum coins dated 1973 were meant to be used in 1974. But, many people opposed the idea. These detractors thought these coins would jam machines. Plus, they would be undetectable in X-ray scans if ingested by a child.
The 1973 Penny Composition
The coins had to be retrieved, though a few couldn’t be found. Meanwhile, a combination of 95% copper mixed with 5% zinc and tin was the new metal chosen for 1973 pennies. The 1973 Penny weigh 3.11g and 19mm in diameter.
These bronze 1973 coins are what you see today. The coins can be divided into three categories based on color. They may be brown, red-brown, or red. Red coins are usually more valuable.
The 1973 Penny Design
1973 Penny – Obverse Side
The 1973 penny features the obverse side designed by Victor D. Brenner, showcasing the profile of Abraham Lincoln, the first president to be depicted on a currency. Lincoln’s face is turned towards the right, and near the rim at the top, the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” are inscribed.
On the reverse side, to the left of Lincoln’s head, the word “LIBERTY” is displayed. On the right side of the coin’s face, you will find the year of minting, 1973, accompanied by a mint mark. The mint mark “S” indicates the San Francisco Mint, while “D” represents the Denver Mint. Coins from Philadelphia do not bear a mint mark.
1973 Penny: Reverse Side
The reverse side of the coin, skillfully designed by Frank Gasparro, showcases the iconic Lincoln Memorial. Positioned above the building, the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” are inscribed, with two dots between the words and an additional dot at the end.
Near the stairs on the right side, the designer’s initials, FG, are cleverly integrated. The coin’s denomination, ONE CENT, is imprinted on the lower part of the reverse side. Additionally, the upper portion of the reverse side proudly displays the name of the nation, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
1973 Penny Value
How Much Is a 1973 Penny Worth Today?
While most circulated 1973 pennies have minimal value, High-grade uncirculated 1973 pennies can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Notably, the most valuable ones include the 1973-S PF70-graded RDU coin worth $3,500, a PR70-graded Deep Cameo proof coin from San Francisco that fetched $12,075 at auction, and coins with errors like the double denomination on a dime reaching up to $4,560 in value.
1973 Penny Value Chart
Let’s look at the values of the different types of 1973 penny coins based on gradation and color.
1973 Penny Value Chart (MS) – Philadelphia
1973 Penny Value Chart (MS) – Denver
1973 Penny Value Chart (MS) – San Francisco
1973 Penny Value Chart (Proof) – San Francisco
1973 Penny Mintage: Value Guide
As you’ve seen already, the prices of the 1973 penny can vary to a large extent. Now, let’s take a look at their values based on mintage.
1973 No Mint Mark Penny Value
The Philadelphia mint produced 3,728,245,000 Lincoln coins in 1973, and they don’t carry a mint mark. The 1973 Philly penny value today is considered between $2.50-$250. But the highest values realized by these coins at auctions are as follows:
1973 D Penny Value
3,549,576,588 pennies were produced at the Denver mint in 1973, and they bear the mint mark D. These 1973 Lincoln coins are valued between $0.05-$800 today. But at auctions, they have managed to secure the following prices:
1973 S Penny Value
San Francisco produced 319,937,634 coins, including 317,177,295 mint state and 2,760,339 proof coins. MS coins from the San Francisco mint vary in price from $0.05 to $900, while the proof coins range from $0.25 to $3500.
The highest prices realized by MS coins at auctions are as follows:
The highest values secured by proof coins at auctions are as follows:
Why Is a 1973 Penny Worth So Much?
While most circulated 1973 pennies hold minimal value, it is the high-grade uncirculated coins that can fetch significant sums, ranging from hundreds to even thousands of dollars due to their pristine condition.
The production of proof coins exclusively took place in San Francisco, and their enhanced shine and superior quality contribute to their higher value. Additionally, the color of the coin becomes another determining factor, with the value increasing for coins exhibiting a vibrant red hue.
All things considered, the most expensive coins are the certified red proof coins from the San Francisco mint, followed by the highest-grade mint-state red coins. On the other hand, the least expensive are the circulated brown coins.
Here’s an intriguing fact: The planned release of 1973 aluminum coins in 1974 was halted, and it is now illegal to sell, auction, or possess these coins. Nevertheless, these aluminum coins hold a staggering value of $250,000!
1973 Lincoln Penny Error List
With a substantial mintage of over a million coins, it’s not surprising to find numerous 1973 pennies with errors. Common errors include double strikes, off-center strikes, strike-through errors, and more, typically valued at less than $100.
However, there are certain rare errors that command significantly higher prices in the market. While there are several 1973 coins with errors, here is a list of those that have attained the highest values:
|Error||Description||Value Realized ($)|
|Double Denomination Struck on 10C||Two coin patterns struck on a 10c planchet||$4560|
|Struck on a 10C Planchet||Printed on the wrong planchet, making it a silver 10-cent coin||$1680 and $3360|
|Double Struck, Off Center||Two distinct strike impressions, both off-center||$3000|
|Struck Off Center||Struck off the center of the coin’s face, leaving it mostly blank||$1680|
|Struck on a Dime Planchet, Uniface Reverse||Looks like a dime with a silver shine; reverse side almost blank||$1440|
|Double Struck Flipover, Second Uniface Obverse||Obverse side letters misplaced, reverse side flipped letters||$1320|
|Struck on a 1973 Roosevelt Dime||Both Lincoln and Roosevelt’s faces on the obverse face||$1260|
|Struck Through Late Stage Capped Die||Blurry ghost image on the obverse side||$1020|
|Struck 15% Off Center||Coin design printed away from the center, partially cut off||$1020|
|Late Stage Brockage||Mirror image on the obverse side with ghost images||$1020|
1973 Lincoln penny FAQs
How many 1973 pennies were minted?
A total of 7,597,759,222 Lincoln memorial pennies were minted in 1973. This includes 317,177,295 MS (Mint State) coins and 2,760,339 proof coins produced in the San Francisco Mint, 3,549,576,588 coins produced in the Denver Mint, and 3,728,245,000 produced in the Philadelphia Mint.
Are there any 1973 pennies worth money?
Yes, there are many valuable 1973 pennies. The most expensive is the 1973-S PF70-graded RDU (Red Double-Strike Uncirculated) coin, valued at $3,500. The highest auction price realized is $12,075 for a PR70-graded Deep Cameo proof coin from San Francisco. Coins with errors, such as the double denomination struck on a 10C (dime), can also hold significant value, reaching $4,560.
Is a 1973 D penny rare?
No, the 1973 D penny is not rare since the Denver Mint produced 3,549,576,588 of these coins. The majority of these coins are still in circulation. However, uncirculated 1973-D coins in pristine condition are considered rare, as well as those with unique minting errors.
What is the value of an uncirculated 1973 Philly penny today?
The most expensive uncirculated 1973 Philly penny reached $3,960 in an auction. Most 1973 pennies from the Philadelphia Mint are circulated, with a value of $2.50 or more for those without mint marks. The best-condition Philly coins are valued at around $250.
How much is a 1973 D penny worth?
A 1973 D Lincoln Memorial penny can be worth anywhere from $0.05 to $800 today. The value depends on factors such as color, grade, and condition of the coin. The highest auction price realized for a Denver-minted 1973 coin is an impressive $4,994, specifically for an MS76-graded red coin.
The 1973 Lincoln Memorial Penny – A Coin with a Story:
The 1973 penny, despite its abundance, holds appeal for many coin collectors, especially beginners, due to its status as a memorial coin. Additionally, the interesting story behind the selection of the coin’s metal after the withdrawal of aluminum pennies adds to its allure.
If you have an interest in coins with captivating narratives, the 1973 penny is certainly worth adding to your collection. Keep an eye out for proof coins, high-grade and red coins, as well as pennies with unique minting errors.