1920 Wheat Penny Value (No Mint Mark?) Guide

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Coin collecting is an exciting hobby, and one of the most popular coins to collect is the 1920 Wheat Penny. It is an iconic piece of American history, the second penny issued after the end of World War I. The Wheat Penny was produced from 1909 to 1958, and its design and value have changed dramatically.

The 1920 Lincoln could be mistaken for a modern coin at first glance; however, you will notice minute variances with closer examination. Due to these minor variations and age, the 1920 Lincoln penny is necessary for any collector. This blog post will take a closer look at the 1920 Wheat Penny and explore its history, design, and worth.

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History Of The 1920 Wheat Penny

The 1920 Wheat Penny is an American coin in circulation for over a century. The coin was minted from 1909 to 1958, and it was a popular denomination due to its relatively low value compared to other coins of the time.

The 1920 Wheat Penny was produced more than any other year of its production run. This is attributed to a combination of high demand and an increase in the number of coins minted, leading to a greater amount of 1920 Wheat Pennies being released into circulation. The coins were minted in three locations, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver.

The design of Wheat Pennies was created by Victor David Brenner, a renowned sculptor and engraver. He initially based his design on an old Roman coin, which he modified to suit the needs of the United States Mint. While his original design featured his initials VDB along the bottom of the coin, they were quickly removed due to controversy over the minting of coins with an individual’s initials.

Design Of The Coin

The 1920 Wheat Penny comprises 95% copper, 3% zinc, and 2% tin. The coin’s weight is 3.11 grams, and the diameter is 19mm. It is considered the first “modern” United States penny, and the original wheat design was used last year.

The coin’s composition is crucial as it has been estimated that millions of coins were minted in 1920 alone. It is said that only 4% to 5% of those coins have survived due to their softness and malleability. Despite its high value, the Wheat Penny remains an accessible coin for most collectors as it can still be found at reasonable prices.

1. The Obverse

The obverse design features the picture of the 16th United States president, Abraham Lincoln, facing to the right. On either side of the president are elevated inscriptions. The phrase “Liberty” is on his left, and the year of minting 1920 is off to his right. The mint marks “S” and “D” are also mentioned on the coins below the year 1920. The S represents the minting in San Francisco, while the “D” represents Denver. On the top, the phrase “In God We Trust” is written in the shape of an arch.

2. The Reverse

Instead of an image, the coin’s reverse side has two statements in the center. The value of “One Cent” is written first, followed by the words “United States of America.” The Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” is written above. Two single wheat stalks can be seen on the reverse’s outer margins on the right and left. This is why the name “Wheat Penny” is occasionally used to describe this penny.



Error Lincoln wheat pennies differ from similar-type ordinary coins in several ways. A few common abnormalities in 1920 coinage are easily identifiable, and these coins are usually worth more than those from the normal strike.

1. Mint Mark

Some of the 1920 Wheat Pennies were re-punched. This resulted in a coin whose surface was recessed. An identifying feature of this error is an edge surrounded by a dish shape.

2. Broad Strike Error

The collar’s failure to position at the precise moment of striking caused this inaccuracy. In this instance, the outcome is a coin with an uneven edge and metal that has been freely pressed outward.

3. Doubled Die

This error can be seen on the obverse side of some pennies. This type of error produced an extra eyelid on Lincoln’s face. However, pennies with this error are scarce.

4. Error In Color and Motto

This unusual error occurred when the Wheat penny was struck on a foreign planchet. The Centavo copper-nickel planchet produced distinctively colored coins with peach and light grey coloring.

The Centavo planchet was smaller than standard pieces for penny manufacture. Therefore, mistakes had the motto IN GOD WE TRUST chopped off. Only 15 of these coins are known to be in existence today.


Current Market Value

The price of the 1920 Wheat Pennies differs significantly depending upon the minting and condition. Below is a rough estimate of the different market values of these coins:

Philadelphia Minted

These collectible coins in the uncirculated form are scarce on the market despite a high mintage. Toning has a significant impact on their pricing, and you should budget $10 to $70 for brown pieces. Red-brown specimens range in price from $20 to $120, but the best red ones can cost up to $6,600.

San Francisco Minted

Based on their ranking, these items range in price from $60 to $450. At auctions, rare specimens with red tones typically sell for between $14,000 and $16,000.

Denver Minted

While worn coins in circulation for years are cheap, brown coins in mint condition should cost between $85 to $690. Brownish pennies typically sell for $250 to $7,000, while red ones can sell for up to $10,800 at auctions since collectors prefer to purchase these coins.

Melt Value

The melt value of the 1920 Wheat Pennies is just $0.0247, according to the USA coin book.


The Designer Victor David Brenner

American sculptor and engraver Victor David Brenner is best known as the creator of the Lincoln Cent. Jewish parents gave birth to Brenner in the Russian Empire city of Siauliai. Avigdor David Brenner was his birth name; he later changed it to Victor David Brenner.

In 1890, he immigrated to the US and spent much of his time in the vicinity of New York City. Brenner had little else to fall back on when he arrived in America, but the trade his father had taught him was gem and seal engraving.