1944 Wheat Penny Value (D & S Mints, Error List, & More)

Despite being a common coin, I’ve often seen many numismatists seek the old 1944 Wheat Penny. The reason is that the 1944 Penny marked a triumphant return to its traditional composition of 95% copper after the steel war cents in 1943.

But it’s not just those historical strings; this coin also comes with its distinct varieties and anomalies, making it an irresistible piece of American coinage worth the money. But how much? Let’s find out in this 1944 wheat penny price guide!

Key Takeaways

  • The postwar 1944 wheat pennies have the original composition of 95% copper and 5% tin or zinc. 
  • Although common due to high mintage, minting errors like the D/S error, off-center strike, and “L” errors can make these pennies worth hundreds to thousands. 
  • One of the rarest 1944 pennies, the 1944 Steel Penny with transitional error, was auctioned at an astonishing price of $408,000 in 2021. 

A Quick Overview of the 1944 Wheat Penny History

Let’s take a look at the changes the Lincoln Wheat Penny went through before being discontinued in 1959:

  • 1909: The Lincoln cents were introduced to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birth anniversary.
  • 1910s-1942: The Lincoln copper cents ran with good popularity without requiring any major changes. 
  • 1943: During WWII, the US Mint replaced the original Wheat Lincoln coins with the 1943 Wartime Steel Cents, made of 99% carbon steel and 1% zinc. 
  • 1944: The original copper coins were resumed with the same 95% copper composition. This year saw the highest mintage of Lincoln cents until 1960. 
  • 1945-1958: The wheat cents continued for another 12 long years. 
  • 1959: The new Lincoln Memorial cent featuring the Lincoln Memorial replaced the customary Lincoln cents with the wheat design. 
1944 Wheat Penny Key Facts
Material (Composition)Copper (95%) & Zinc or Tin (5%) 
Minting Location Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
Year of Minting 1944
Weight3.11 grams
Diameter19 mm
Thickness1.55 mm
DesignerVictor D. Brenner
Face Value$0.01
Mint MarksNo Mint Mark (Philadelphia Mint)“D” Mint Mark (Denver Mint)“S” Mint Mark (San Francisco Mint)
Total Mintage 2,148,738,000 (All three mints)
1944 Wheat Penny Mintage

Design Features on the 1944 Wheat Penny Coin

The 1944 Wheat Penny, designed by the Lithuanian US Mint engraver Victor D. Brenner, features the same design as the pre-war Lincoln pennies. Let’s see what the design looks like:

1. Obverse (Heads) Design:

You’ll see the following design on the obverse or front side of the 1944 Penny:

  • The profile of President Abraham Lincoln facing right
  • The phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” inscribed along the upper edge of the obverse
  • The mint date “1944” carved on the right side of obverse
  • “LIBERTY” inscribed on the left side of the profile

2. Reverse (Tails) Design:

The reverse of the 1944 Wheat coin will bear these design features:

  • The “E. PLURIBUS UNUM” phrase carved along the upper edge
  • The face value “ONE CENT” inscribed at the center (upper side)
  • Words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” written right below the face value/denomination
  • Two wheat stalks carved around the edge on either side of the words “ONE CENT” and USA 

3. Coin Composition & Dimensions of the 1944 Penny:

The 1944 Wheat Lincoln Penny features the original pre-war composition of the Lincoln cents. However, instead of bronze, these coins mainly have a brass composition with 95% copper and 5% zinc due to the unavailability of tin during those years.

Besides, the dimensions of these 1944 pennies are also the same as the pre-1943 pennies: 3.11 grams heavy, 19 mm wide (diameter), and 1.55 mm thick.

4. Unique Identifying Mint Marks

1. 1944-S Wheat Penny: These 1944 wheat pennies were struck by the San Francisco Mint and bear a tiny “S” mint mark right below the mint year. The S-mint coins range from a few cents to $10, respectively, from poor to mint state (MS65). 

2. 1944-D Wheat Lincoln Penny: The Denver-struck 1944-D Wheat Penny can be identified with a small “D” mint mark on the obverse, below the mint date. Common 1944-D Wheat Pennies don’t cost more than $5-$6, even in the mint state with MS65 grade.

5 Factors to Value the Old 1944 Wheat Penny

To find the right worth of an old 1944 Penny, you must consider the following five factors that impact its final resale price:

1. 1944 Wheat Penny Mintage & Rarity

The year 1944 holds a lot of significance in American coinage, as this year saw the highest mintage, 2,148,738,000, of the 1944 Wheat Penny.

But this abundant production makes this coin quite common and less attractive for collectors, costing not more than its face value even in a low-grade mint state.

1944 Wheat PenniesMintage
1944 Wheat Penny (No Mint Mark)1,435,400,000
1944-D Wheat Penny (D Mint Mark)430,578,000
1944-S Wheat Penny (S Mint Mark)282,760,000

2. Condition & Grading of 1944 Wheat Penny

As said above, the 1944 pennies were struck in millions at all three minting facilities. That’s why they only fetch a few cents to a few dollars in mint state.

Besides, the 1944-S penny, having the lowest mintage among the three mint coins, can cost up to $3,000 in a near-mint state.

Here’s a 1944 Wheat Penny value chart based on the coin’s certified grades:

Coin’s Condition/Coin’s Name1944 Wheat Penny1944-D Wheat Penny1944-S Wheat Penny
Good to Very Fine (VF20+) 5 – 10 cents5 – 10 cents5 cents -$7
Extremely Fine (XF40) – Almost Uncirculated (AU50+)15 cents – $540 cents – $1050 cents – $50
Mint State (MS60 – 65)$10 – $40$10 – $80$15 – $70
MS 66+ $15 – $1,500$10 – $2,100$50 – $3,000

3. 1944 Wheat Lincoln Penny Colors

Since it is made of copper alloy, the 1944 Wheat Pennies can be found in three different colors: red, brown, and red-brown.

Among these, the 1944 red wheat pennies can cost up to $10,000 for very high mint state grades. On the other hand, the brown pennies won’t cost over $300 for an MS 65 grade!

Let’s see the average values of 1944 Pennies based on their colors:

1944 Wheat Penny ColorsFeaturesEstimated Price (AU to Mint State of Different Mint Coins)
Red (RD)Flawless & shiny design, 95% red surface with minimum or no oxidation spotsUp to $10,000 (MS65+)
Red-Brown (RB)Red surface with more than 50% greenish spots, partially worn-out luster$10 – $700
Brown (BN)Mostly brown copper surface with 5% or even less red surface, covered in oxidized green or brown spots$4 – $350

4. 1944 Steel Penny (AKA Silver Penny)- Valuable Transitional Error

1944 Steel Penny Error

During the circulation of the 1944 Wheat Cent, a rare variation, the 1944 Steel Pennies became popular as a striking error coin.

It so happened that while minting 1944 wheat pennies, the makers at all three mints somehow stuffed the leftover zinc-coated steel planchets from the 1942 war cent series. And the result was a rare 1944 Steel Wheat Penny. Due to the silvery color of steel, they became popular as “1944 Silver pennies.”

Only around 30 1944 No-mint Steel Pennies, seven 1944-D Steel Pennies, and only two 1944-S Steel Wheat pennies have been found as of now.

Here’s a price chart to value the special 1944 Steel Pennies based on detailed research of multiple auctions:

1944 Pennies Grades1944 No -mint Steel Penny1944-D Steel Penny1944-S Steel Penny (Based on only two coins sold)
EF/XF (40) $5,000 – $28,000N/AAround $49,000
AU 50 – AU 55$10,000 – $35,000$30,000 – $60,000N/A
MS 60 – MS 65+$30,000 – $180,000+$35,000 – $115,000+$370,000 –
$405,000+

5. Valuable Minting Errors in 1944 Wheat Penny

Apart from the most valuable transitional error, the 1944 pennies also displayed a few other minting errors, as follows:

1. 1944-D/S Penny Error: This popular error was noticed when the 1944 wheat pennies struck at the Denver Mint accidentally bore an “S” mint mark on their obverse. 

Based on colors, these 1944-D/S coins can cost from $100 to $350 in Very Fine to Almost Uncirculated state (VF20 – AU50+BN) and $200 to $900 or more in Mint State (MS60 – MS65+ RD & RB).

2. Error “L” in Liberty: This is another common found in the 1944 Lincoln pennies, in which the letter “L” of “LIBERTY” is struck slightly on the obverse rim. A high-grade 1944 Penny with this error can cost up to $2,500. 

Besides these, you may also find the common minting errors in the 1944 Lincoln Pennies:

  • Off-Center Strike Error
  • RPM (Re-punched Mint)
  • Double-Die

How to Spot a Fake 1944 Wheat Penny?

Sellers often trick collectors into paying dollars for fake brown-painted coins as the 1944 copper pennies. That’s why you must know the hoax features to spot a counterfeit coin:

  • Magnetic nature
  • Varied weight than 2.7 grams 
  • Reeded edge (wheat pennies are plain-edged)
  • Modified mint marks
  • Altered or fake minting errors

How to know if a 1944 Penny is steel?

The best way to check if your 1944 wheat penny is real or not is to check its magnetism. If the coin is attracted to a natural magnet, it’s likely made of steel.

What makes the 1944 Wheat Penny valuable?

Though the 1944 pennies are easily available, hence, common in the market, minting errors like re-punched mintmark, double-die, off-center strike, and transitional error can make this common coin worth a lot!

If you’ve found a brown or red 1944 wheat penny, there are chances you can make a few dollars out of it. And luckily, if it turns out to be a rare 1944 steel penny, you’re gonna get rich! Like the 1944 penny, the wartime 1943 Steel Pennies are also valuable due to their limited minting era and interesting errors you’d love to read about!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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