1959 Lincoln Penny Value (“D” Mint Mark, Coin Errors & More) 

If you’re an avid coin collector, you’d surely know that sometimes the smallest coins can hold the biggest surprises. The 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent is the perfect example! While many collectors overlook these copper pennies, one rare 1959 penny surprisingly sold for a whopping $5,887 in an auction!

So, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that if you have a 1959 Lincoln Penny, you could be sitting on a small copper fortune! This guide will help you find that rare 1959 Memorial Penny and assess its true value based on errors, grades, and other vital features!

Brief History of the Lincoln Memorial Cent

The production and circulation of the Lincoln Memorial cents began in 1959 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s 150th birth anniversary. replacing the traditional Lincoln cent with wheat reverse. This new cent featured Lincoln’s profile on the front and the Lincoln Memorial at the back. 

During the next three decades, the Memorial Cents underwent minor changes in the design and relief, shifting from high relief to low to make the coins sustainable. The next major change came in 2008 when Congress changed the composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc to copper-plated zinc. 

In 2009, the US Mint released new Bicentennial cents with four reverse designs to celebrate Lincoln Cent’s 100th anniversary and Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Anniversary. These designs displayed Lincoln’s life from birth and childhood to his presidency.

1959 Lincoln PennyKey Features & Facts
Material Composition95% Copper, 5% Tin and Zinc
Minting LocationPhiladelphia, Denver
Minting Year1959
Face Value1-cent (0.01$)
Weight3.11 grams
Diameter19.05 mm
Thickness1.52 mm
DesignerVictor D. Brenner (obverse), Frank Gasparro (reverse)
Mint Marks“D” for Denver Mint, no mint mark for Philadelphia Mint
Total Mintage1,889,475,000

How to Spot a 1959 Lincoln Penny (Design & Composition)

The year 1959 introduced a deviation from the traditional wheat reverse on the Lincoln cents. You can easily identify this coin with its unique design.

1959 Penny Obverse (Heads):

The obverse of the 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent was designed by Lithuanian sculptor Victor D. Brenner. It has the following elements:

  • A profile of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President
  • The word “LIBERTY” on the left side
  • The mint date “1959” on the lower right
  • The motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST,” above Lincoln’s head along the upper edge
  • The mint mark (D) below the mint year

1959 Penny Reverse (Tails):

The back of the 1959 Lincoln Copper Penny, designed by Assistant Engraver Frank Gasparro, has the following details:

  • The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” on the top
  • A relief carving of the Lincoln Memorial building at the center
  • A small statue of Abraham Lincoln standing inside the memorial
  • The words “ONE CENT” in large font at the bottom
  • The US motto, “E. PLURIBUS UNUM,” in small font right above the Memorial building

Coin Composition & Dimensions: 

The real 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent has the traditional Lincoln cent composition of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. This composition, known as the “bronze” alloy, was used for Lincoln Cents from 1909 to 1982, when it was finally changed to copper-plated zinc.

Moreover, this cent measures 19.05 mm in diameter and 1.52 mm in thickness and weighs 3.11 grams. It also has a plain, unreeded edge.

5 Factors to Find the Value of the 1959 Memorial Cent

The average value of a 1959 Lincoln Copper Penny in average condition is around $5 – $100, while rarely found error coins or highly graded mint-state examples can sell for up to $5,000 or more. Clearly, the final value of your coin depends on a few factors, which are listed below.

1. Mintage & Mint Marks

In 1959, Lincoln Memorial Cents were minted at three locations: Philadelphia Mint (these cents have no mint mark) and Denver Mint (with a D mint mark). There were no 1959 pennies struck at the San Francisco Mint.

1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent
1959 Lincoln Penny Mint Marks Total Mintage
1959-D Lincoln Memorial Cent1,279,760,000
1959-P Lincoln Memorial Cent (no mint mark)609,715,000

Although generally less valuable than 1959-p cents, the 1959-d penny coins can also sell for $1,000 – $3,000+ in exceptionally high grades.

The total mintage of 1,889,475,000 for the 1959 cents reflects the high demand for the new design at the time. But it also makes this penny quite common in the market and, hence, less valuable in common coin grades.

2. Coin Grades & Condition

The value of a 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent is largely determined by its condition, as graded by professional numismatic services, such as PCGS and NGC. 

Generally, the 1959 cents in mint state with MS60 to MS66 grades sell for under $100, while higher grades like MS67 and MS67+ can increase the coin’s value up to a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. The highest grade 1959 1C MS67+ sold for a record price of over $5,880 on Heritage Auctions.

The following price chart can help you assess the value of your old 1959 cent based on coin grades.

Coin Grading1959-p Lincoln Penny Value 1959-d Lincoln Penny Value
Poor (0) to Extremely Fine (XF45)Below $5Below $5
Almost Uncirculated (AU50) to Mint State (MS60)Below $10Below $10
Mint State (MS60 – MS66+)$10 – $1,000$10 – $100
Mint State (MS67 – onwards)$200 – $6,000+$100 – $2,500+

3. Rare Mint Errors in 1959 Lincoln Penny

While specific valuable errors for the 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent are not widely documented, this coin has the following mint errors that can increase its value:

Repunched Mint Mark (RPM)

This error happens when the mint mark is punched twice or thrice on the same coin. It can For example, a 1959 1c MS65 RPM error coin sold for around $100 on eBay, while a regular 1959 1C MS65 coin only sells for $5 – $15. 

Screenshot 2024 07 10 191705
Source: eBay – Stateline Coin Exchange LLC

Double Die Error (DDR and DDO)

Another common error found on a 1959 Lincoln penny is the double die error, which showcases doubling of lettering or numbers in the obverse or reverse. A 1959 DDO/DDR Lincoln Penny in mint state can be worth around $100 – $250 according to PCGS.

4. 1959 Lincoln Penny Color Varieties

Like other Lincoln pennies, the 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cents are also available in three colors: red (RD), red and brown (RB), and brown (BN), which play a vital role in determining the coin’s value. The red pennies have the original copper-red coloration, and the brown cents develop a patina or toning due to exposure to air.

Generally, the red Memorial cents are the most valuable. For instance, a 1959 BN (brown) Lincoln Copper Penny graded MS67 is worth only up to $50 – $60, while the value of a 1959 RD (red) penny ranges from $200 – $600. But if you found an MS67+ or MS68 1959 Red Penny, it can easily sell for $5,000 – $6,000!

5. Proof 1959 Lincoln Cent

In 1959, the U.S. Mint produced around 1,149,291 Proof Lincoln Memorial Cents for collectors. These special coins feature a mirror-like finish, which greatly impacts the cent’s value. For example, a rare 1959 PR69 Red Penny sold for over $1,020 on eBay. 

Screenshot 2024 07 10 184338

Generally, commonly found proof coins, with grades ranging from PR65 to PS68, are generally worth under $100 due to less scarcity.

Spotting a 1959 Memorial Penny Counterfeit

While the 1959 penny has a distinct design itself, you may come across some counterfeits as well. So, check the following features to identify a fake 1959 Lincoln Memorial Cent: 

  • Different dimensions and weight: If your 1959 penny doesn’t have a diameter of 24.3 mm, thickness of 1.52 mm, and weight of 5.67 grams, it’s fake. 
  • The wrong mint mark placement: If the mint mark on your 1950 Memorial Cent is located anywhere other than below the mint date on the obverse, it’s not a real coin. 
  • Fake coin composition: A real 1959 cent is composed of a copper nickel clad over a pure copper core. Your coin is likely fake if it has any other element in it, like iron. 
  • Modified or bade design details: Fake 1959 pennies are likely to have modified design details, such as a fake mint mark. Look for sharp, well-defined features. 
  • Magnetic properties: Most genuine copper 1959 Lincoln pennies are not magnetic. Use a magnet to test if the coin attracts or repels; if it reacts, it’s fake. 
  • Copper Plating: Look for signs of plating peeling or a different core material using a magnifying glass.

If any of these tests raise doubts, it’s best to have the coin professionally authenticated before making a purchase.

As we explored, the 1959 Lincoln Memorial Penny is more than just a piece of pocket change. So, the next time you come across a 1959 penny, take a moment to assess it using this detailed guide. But it’s not just this cent; other American pennies, such as the 1945 penny, 1964 penny, and 1982 penny, are highly collectible! Learn more about them now!

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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