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Grading Lincoln Wheat Pennies
How to Video

Values of old Lincoln pennies span a huge range. Date and mintmarks combined with the How to Video - Grading Lincoln Wheat Pennies finds an accurate value of your coins on the charts.

Many of these popular Wheat pennies survive today; all are now worth a minimum of 2 to 5 cents each. However, above average grade examples (light wear, full wheat lines showing, etc.) are judged individually. These premium grade pieces are valued higher and considered as likely candidates to include in a collection. Details needed to accurately grade Wheat pennies are highlighted in the video and the following descriptions.

Grading Lincoln Wheat pennies is a process of comparison, judging the condition of your old penny and assigning a "grade." Subtle changes to the amount of wear - if any - to the surface of the coin determines each grading and value category.

Uncirculated Condition

Grading Obverse Uncirculated Lincoln Wheat Penny
Grading Reverse Uncirculated Lincoln Wheat Penny

A desirable coin because no wear is affecting the surface. This wheat penny, despite its age is graded as "Uncirculated" condition. With a magnifying glass examine Lincoln's cheek and jaw to confirm no signs of wear (a dullness and smoothness) is visible.

Minting imparts a distinct luster and grain to the surface of coins, wear can appear as a somewhat glossy or smooth area and sometimes with dullness to the surface. A certain amount of redness and brown in color change to the copper is acceptable in the uncirculated grade, the key however is - no wear.


  • Luster remains on cheek below Lincoln's eye
  • His beard is free of smoothing from wear
  • Inspect the front edge of coat, its high relief needs to retain luster


  • The delicate frost of a newly minted coin is evident on ONE CENT
  • Grains of wheat are high points and must remain without wear and dulling
  • Luster is continuous across the field below the lettering

Extremely Fine Condition

Grading Obverse Extremely Fine Lincoln Wheat Penny
Grading Reverse Extremely Fine Lincoln Wheat Penny

Here is a Lincoln cent in the "Extremely Fine" grade. After a coin spends just a short time in circulation wear begins to remove the highest points. Additionally the bright copper luster fades and turns a light tan to brown.

Wear has removed some metal from this coin; evident in the hair, cheek and jaw, however most of the small fine details do remain. Confirm the following points are visible on your coin.


  • Lincoln's hair is still well defined
  • A clear separation remains between his cheek and jaw line
  • Front edge of coat is worn but only in a narrow band


  • All parallel lines are fully separated at ends of wheat ears
  • Grains within stalk are complete with no merging
  • A fine inner and outer line of the stalk is visible and separated

Fine Condition

Grading Obverse Fine Lincoln Wheat Penny
Grading Reverse Fine Lincoln Wheat Penny

Next to judge is a moderately worn Wheat Cent in "Fine" condition. Many dates in this grade are valued quite high, notably the early mint marked issues. This remains an important grade to judge carefully. A quick pass to see if your coin is the "fine" grade is to check the reverse. If some of the parallel lines at the ends of the stalk are visible it is worth taking a closer look.


  • Hair has only scattered wear on high points, most curls remain recognizable
  • Cheek and jaw are visibly flattened, however still separated
  • A flat area has emerged above Lincoln's ear


  • A few of the lines at the ends of the wheat stalk have blended, to grade your coin as "fine" many of these lines must remain separated
  • Grains of wheat are now flat but distinct
  • A subtle point, there is a fullness to the wheat ears

Good Condition

Grading Obverse Good Condition Lincoln Wheat Penny
Grading Reverse Good Condition Lincoln Wheat Penny

Grading Lincoln Wheat pennies and setting aside those with a full to partially separated cheek and jaw finds the better condition and value coins. However, once a coin becomes worn to just an outline of the major details its condition is in the "Good" grade range. This coin is an example of a nice "good" condition Lincoln cent.


  • Details of Lincoln's portrait have merged from an area above his ear through the cheek and jaw
  • Hair definition is confined to the top of his head
  • Major folds in coat are all that remain, higher reliefs have flattened


  • All lines at ends of stalks have merged
  • Most of the wheat grains are now missing; if an occasional detail is visible your coin is solid for the grade
  • All lettering is distinct; however some blending with the rim at the top is possible

Accurate Grading Lincoln Wheat Pennies = Value

Grading Lincoln Wheat pennies is essential, although admittedly - tedious. Persistence on your part, especially if dealing with a large quantity of coins, does pay dividends. In today's market, any wheat cent dated prior to 1940 is worth a second look.

Grading Old Pennies | Video Series

Visit the in-depth penny grading videos, combined with enlarged images and detailed descriptions. Dates and mintmarks on the coins are only part of penny value. Follow the steps to grading condition and it leads to how much your coins are worth, accurately.

Lincoln Penny Value | On the Rise

Finding better quality, lightly worn Wheat pennies with most of the original detail remaining is a challenge. Few were spared heavy use. Combine the scarcity of nice examples and serious collectors wishing to add these to their collections and Lincoln penny value in top condition is strong.

Coin Values Discovery pulls together... Grading Lincoln Wheat Pennies and...

All old US coin values. Use this page as a starting point, it is an excellent index with images and text links to all coin series, from Cents to Gold. Value charts, grading images and descriptions uncover not only Lincoln penny value but, how much in total, your box of old coins is worth.