The Intriguing 1964 Penny: Its History, Value, and Special Varieties

1964 Penny Value? The humble one cent coin, while largely overlooked today, has a fascinating history stretching back to the early days of the United States. And the 1964 penny is no exception, containing some intriguing stories and valuable rarities for collectors.

1964 Penny Value

A Brief Background on Lincoln Cents

Since 1909, Abraham Lincoln’s iconic portrait has graced the US one cent piece. The original designer, Victor D. Brenner, created an image of Lincoln to commemorate the late president’s 100th birthday. Minted from a then-standard bronze alloy, these new “Lincoln Wheat cents” replaced the unpopular Indian Head cents that had been produced since 1859 [1].

Over the years, the Lincoln cent underwent several design changes. In 1959 the reverse was changed from a pair of wheat stalks to the Lincoln Memorial to honor the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. But the coin’s most significant change came in 1964 when the composition was altered from 95% copper and 5% zinc to a copper-plated zinc core [2].

This changeover officially began in 1965 to coincide with a switch to clad coinage for dimes and quarters. But to meet commercial demand, the US Mint struck some 1964 cents on the new zinc planchets along with the remaining copper blanks. As a result, 1964 represents an intriguing transitional year for Lincoln pennies.

Circulating 1964 Penny Values

For regular business strikes, most 1964 Lincoln cents are worth around 2 to 5 cents depending on condition. However, there are certain varieties that fetch much higher prices:

Key Date 1964-D

The 1964 Denver Mint penny is scarcer in top grades compared to the 1964 Philadelphia issue. About 3.8 billion were produced in total. In MS67 condition the 1964-D cent can sell for $650 or more [1].

Transitional Errors

Because of the composition change, some 1964 cents were accidentally struck on dime, nickel or older copper cent planchets. These “wrong planchet” errors are highly desirable, with values from $500 to $5,000+ [2][16].

Doubled Die Varieties

There are two 1964 doubled die cents, one from Philadelphia and one from Denver. On these coins, hub doubling has created strong extra thickness on letters like LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. An average circulated example sells for around $75 [3].

Special Strike 1964 Pennies

In addition to regular business strikes, the US Mint creates special collector versions of the Lincoln cent with enhanced finishes and higher quality. These command substantial premiums, especially in top grades.

Proof 1964 Cents

Nearly 4 million proof 1964 cents were made across all three Mints, including a small run at San Francisco. Most sell for $5 to $10 in PR65 condition. Just three PR67+ examples are known, with one certified PR68 bringing an incredible $20,000 at auction [1].

1964 SMS Pennies

The Special Mint Set series consisted of business strike quality coins prepared with proof dies. Around 2.5 million 1964 SMS cents were created. They boast full mint luster rather than the matte finish of regular proofs. In MS65 an SMS penny sells for $400 to $600, while an MS67 example once realized $27,500 [4][15].

Other Notable 1964 Varieties

While not necessarily rare, the following varieties add an extra layer of interest and value to 1964 Lincoln cents:


If a 1964-D cent was struck over an older 1963-D, the previous date will be faintly visible under magnification. This popular error can sell for $75 to $100 even in lower grades [11].

Die Chips

On some 1964 cents, especially proofs, small die breaks caused raised sections to appear on Lincoln’s cheek or coat. These “die chips” make the coins more appealing to variety collectors. An average example sells for around $10 [3].

Off-Center Strikes

If a blank penny planchet wasn’t properly aligned when struck, one side of the coin will show dramatic off-center detail. A 1964-D with about 60% off-center strike sold for $12 in 2020 [19].

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How to Value Your 1964 Cent

When determining any coin’s value, condition is paramount. Before selling a 1964 penny, be sure to have it professionally graded by PCGS, NGC or another top service. This will verify authenticity and provide an accurate quality assessment.

Once graded, consult the 1964 penny price chart to view potential values [2][18]. For circulated coins, lower grades like VG, Fine and XF will have little premium over face value. But Mint State examples can sell for anywhere from $5 to five figures depending on grade and variety.

And remember – with transitional errors, SMS strikes, proof specimens and doubled die cents, some 1964 pennies carry exceptional value due to attributes beyond just condition. Carefully checking any old Lincoln cents you find could reveal a hidden rarity worth far more than its base metal content.

1964 Penny Value Conclusion

In the vast Lincoln cent series spanning over 100 years, the 1964 penny makes its mark with an intriguing mix of high mintage business strikes and significant rarities. The transition that year to copper-plated zinc planchets brought about some fascinating errors and varieties as well.

While most 1964 cents trade for just a few cents, dedicated collectors understand the potential value found in top grade specimens, proofs, SMS coins, doubled dies, and wrong planchet strikes. And for just a small investment in time and effort, one of these valuable 1964 pennies could still be out there waiting to be found.

Author: Dominic Walsh

I am a highly regarded trader, author & coach with over 16 years of experience trading financial markets. Today I am recognized by many as a forex strategy developer. After starting blogging in 2014, I became one of the world's most widely followed forex trading coaches, with a monthly readership of more than 40,000 traders! Make sure to follow me on social media: Instagram | Facebook | Linkedin | Youtube| Twitter | Pinterest | Medium | Quora | Reddit | Telegram Channel

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