1938 penny value is one of just a few dates with a premium in moderately worn condition. During the value process grading condition is key to how much these are worth.
Adding to desirability are the branch mint varieties struck in 1938. Collecting by date and mint mark is standard with collectors.
Further separating any 1938 cent, is condition. Grading determines state of preservation. Reading the value chart highlights the importance of accurate judgement of grade. Compare to images showing stages in wear separating each grade.
Steps Leading to Value:
Step 1: Date and Mintmark Variety – Identify each date and its mintmark variety. It is a popular theme in the hobby.
Step 2: Grading Condition – Judge condition to determine grade.
Step 3: Special Qualities – Certain elements either enhance or detract from value.
1938 Lincoln Penny Value
Condition of Coin
1938 Lincoln Penny Value Up-Dated
A value process identifies three main factors: Date | Mint Mark | Condition
Listings on the chart begin with Date and Mint Mark combinations. Close-up images help identify and confirm the correct variety.
Grading condition follows. A set of images showing a progression of wear helps visualize the differences. Descriptions of important areas to judge helps match your coin to a grade. Each different combination of these factors is listed on the value chart.
Step 1: | Date and Mintmark Combination
1938 - Three Varieties to Identify
Collector demand forms the base to 1938 penny value. All three varieties are part of collections and higher condition examples are noted with higher premiums. Millions of each variety were produced, however most entered circulation, remaining until heavily worn.
1938 Lincoln Penny
No Mintmark Under Date: Philadelphia Mint Struck the Coin
1938 Philadelphia variety cent is Abundant on a rarity scale. Ample supply for collectors in most grades, becoming less in lightly circulated and higher condition.
A higher value is noted in the Extremely Fine grade. Condition is a major factor to value; it ties closely with the eye appeal of the individual coin. Copper, given enough time and poor storage conditions turns a dark brown, lessening visual appeal. A light brown to tan is noted on coins preserved in favorable conditions.
1938-D Lincoln Penny
"D" Mintmark Under Date: Denver Mint Struck the Coin
Lower mintage figures is typical of branch mints, Denver striking 20,010,000 pennies in 1938. Circulated coins are plentiful.
A standout coin is without wear or just slightly worn. Grading, the next step to value, identifies these. An overall view of your coin displaying Lincoln with a full separation of his cheek and jaw indicates an above average grade penny.
1938-S Lincoln Penny
"S" Mintmark Under Date: San Francisco Mint Struck the Coin
San Francisco variety cents of 1938 are popular with collectors. They are an affordable date from the 1930's representing a low production issue.
Demand from collectors raises values in the Extremely Fine grade and nicer coins. Inspect the "LI" of "Liberty" to the left of Lincoln's portrait. Full, sharp lettering is preferred by collectors and helps strengthen values. Faded and rolling up the rim of lettering reduces desirability.
Step 2: | Judge Condition to Identify Grade
1938 Penny Value Tied to Condition
Depending on grade - determined by its condition; value of your 1938 penny involves a range. View the images of coins in different grades and compare your coin to each. A close match when comparing the amount of detail and wear gives a good indication of condition.
Begin the grading process with an overall opinion of the coin. Pleasing tones of tan and brown are preferred by collectors. Follow with comparing your coin to the images finding a condition match.
Uncirculated Grade: Vibrant luster shinning from the surface indicate an Uncirculated - Mint State grade. No wear to any part of the coin confirms the grade.
Absence of any wear is critical to placing a coin in mint state grade. Highest areas prone to showing wear are Lincoln's eyebrow and cheek just below his eye. Lack of any smoothing or color change is important. Color may deepen over his cheek but a texture consistent with the eyebrow and forehead confirms the coin never circulated.
Strong well-defined details are noted on this mint state 1938 wheat penny. Details of the ridge forming his eyebrow are bold. A nice even red-gold color is bright with luster adding visual appeal.
Extremely Fine Grade: Of value to collectors are early Lincoln cents from the 1930's in lightly worn condition. Defining the Extremely Fine grade is light wear confined to only the highest point of the design.
Judging the grade inspects the entire coin and identifies the amount of wear to high points. Lincoln's eyebrows and cheek are raised above the field and wear quickly. In extremely fine grade small amounts of wear have flattened both the brows and top of cheek. Importantly, a degree of contour and separation remains defining each.
Extremely fine grade is a collectible condition of Lincoln pennies. A nice even color has toned the example 1938-D cent a warm shade of brown, setting this coin apart from many. Eye appeal of this coin is important to value and appeal to collectors.
Fine Grade: Heavy wear is evident in the central areas of a wheat cent in Fine grade. Condition along the outer edges is typically less worn with major details remaining.
Lincoln's eyebrow still defines a separation to his forehead. Cheek area below the eye is now flat with a connection to brow. A temple depression remains giving depth to his profile. Above the temple the forehead is beginning to become flat verses contoured.
A positive eye appeal is displayed by the example wheat penny. No large marks are found and strong legends and date remain. Nicely toned, this coin is affordable to young and new collectors.
Good Grade: Heavy wear, continuous flat areas, and lack of minor details places a coin in the Good grade. Devices remain outlined, and clear date are visible.
Once full of intricate detail, Lincoln's eyebrow and cheek area is now a connected smooth surface. His eyebrow has merged with forehead and continues to the hair line. Flatness extends to most of the coat and shirt.
Copper often tones very deep colors of brown if left exposed to air. Lighter shades indicate this 1930's wheat penny was protected. Preservation plus eye appeal adds to value.
Video | Grading Lincoln Wheat Pennies
Old pennies handled with care and well preserved are sought by collectors. With subtle points to condition separating values Grading Lincoln Wheat Pennies examines the different grades using video and descriptions.
Step 3: | Special Qualities Enhancing Value
1938 Penny Value | Future Potential
Viewing the value chart at the top of this page; 1938 pennies, of all varieties, are an affordable coin. A steady increase in value as grade improves. This value pattern is typical of many dates and mints. However, looking at the whole series, a distinct pricing structure doe emerge.
Three Major Value Eras in the Lincoln Wheat Series are Identified
All coins dated 1909 through 1933 are above minimum value in all grades
Extremely fine grade breaks from minimum value 1934 through 1943
Mint State grade only above minimum value 1944 through 1958
A 1938 penny fits in the middle pricing era 1934 to 1943. Availability and scarcity tend to reflect in large price changes from one grade to the next. Clear indications point to extremely fine as an elusive condition. Future value potential of a 1938 penny is in the extremely fine grade and above. This fits nicely with collectors' preference seeking higher quality coins.
Set aside any wheat penny in higher than minimum value condition. Future collections formed of these coins naturally appeal to a wider collector base.
Lincoln Wheat cents span the years 1909 through 1958. From the top condition coins collected by advanced collectors to worn examples; to an affordable collection for young collectors, the range of value is extensive. Identify your date, mint and condition and refer to the value chart.
All US coin values. Recognize your old coins using the image links leading to value charts. Date | Mintmark | Condition are considered; all described and imaged within each series. Surprising value is often found in the smallest of detail.