The 1982 penny is a unique and fascinating coin that is valued by numismatists. It is particularly notable for its differing composition types – some composed of 95% copper and 5% zinc, and the rest zinc with copper-plating.

This Lincoln Memorial cent is easy to recognize and while a coin in average condition will not fetch more than $1, those in mint condition and possessing rare errors can fetch thousands of dollars. The all-time auction record for a 1982-D zinc composition Lincoln cent with a Small Date form was $18,000 in 2021!

Today, we’ll explore the design and background of the 1982 penny to help you positively identify it. We’ll take a look the average value of the 1982 penny and provide a handy value chart, auction record information, a brief guide to grading coins, and a guide to buying and selling collectible coins.

1982 Penny: Background

The 1982 penny, also known as the 1982 Lincoln Memorial cent, is a one-cent coin that was minted in the United States. Prior to 1982, the US penny was made of a copper-based alloy that was 95% copper and 5% zinc. However, due to rising copper prices, the United States Mint decided to change the composition of the penny in 1982, using a zinc core with a copper plating instead. This change made the 1982 penny different from previous pennies in both appearance and composition.

This penny was minted in three different locations. The cent has a whole host of variations including larger and smaller dates, standard dies versus modified dies, and differing compositions.

One interesting story about the 1982 penny involves a group of collectors who stumbled upon a rare error coin. In 1982, a small number of 1982 pennies were mistakenly struck on pre-1983 copper planchets. These error coins, which are known as “transitional errors,” are highly sought after by collectors due to their rarity and uniqueness.

In the early 1990s, a group of penny collectors were sorting through a bag of 1982 pennies when they noticed that a few of the coins had a different color and weight than the others. Upon closer inspection, they realized that they had found a whole handful of these rare transitional error coins.

The group of collectors was able to authenticate their find and went on to sell their error coins for several thousand dollars each. This story is a testament to the value and excitement that can be found in the world of coin collecting, and it highlights the significance of the 1982 penny in the world of numismatics.

1982 Penny: Design And Identification

The 1982 penny features a design that is similar to the traditional Lincoln penny design that was introduced in 1909. The obverse of the 1982 penny features a bust of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, and the reverse features the Lincoln Memorial. The 1982 penny is slightly larger than previous pennies and has a smooth, plain edge. This penny was designed by the renowned engraver Victor D. Brenner. The mintage of this coin totalled 10,712,525,000!

The “first generation” (or copper) 1982 pennies were struck with a composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc, weighing 3.11 grams, with a diameter of 19 millimeters. These were minted in 3 locations: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (“D” mint mark) and San Francisco (“S” mint mark).

The “second generation” (or zinc) 1982 pennies are composed of copper-plated zinc, weigh 2.5 grams, and also measure 19 millimeters in diameter.

1982 Penny Value

1982 lincoln set

The value of a 1982 penny can vary depending on its condition, rarity, and demand. The value can increase significantly for coins in excellent condition or with unique attributes such as rare errors.

It’s important to note that the value of a 1982 penny can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including current market trends and demand for specific coins. The values listed in the chart below are intended to serve as a general guide and accurate at the time of writing according to USA Coin Book and PCGS. However, it’s always recommended to consult a professional appraiser or reference current market data to get a more accurate idea of the value of a particular coin.

1982 Penny: Value Chart

Year & Mint Mark Variety Mint State (MS65) Average Value, USD
1982 P Copper composition, large date 0.39
1982 P Copper composition, small date 0.46
1982 D Copper composition, large date 0.33
1982 S Copper composition n.d. (Proof, PF = 2.81)
1982 P Zinc composition, large date 0.56
1982 P Zinc composition, small date 0.90
1982 D Zinc composition, large date 0.45
1982 D Zinc composition, small date 0.33

1982 Penny: Auction Records

For each of the 1982 Lincoln cent varieties listed in the value chart above, we have accumulated a set of auction records for coins which fetched enough to blow your mind!

1982-P 1C Copper, Large Date

In 2018, the most expensive 1982 Lincoln cent with a copper composition and a large date form, struck at Philadelphia, achieved an auction record of $1,495! It was graded at MS67+ and sold through eBay.

1982-P 1C Copper, Small Date

The auction record for the copper composition cent with a small date, minted in Philadelphia, is for a penny graded at PCGS MS67+. The toning was described as a rich violet, while the luster possessed the desirable orange shade as if the coin came fresh from the mint.

In 2014, this 1982-P Small Date copper composition Lincoln cent sold for $9,987.50 at Heritage Auctions!

1982-D 1C Copper, Large Date

While this is perhaps the least impressive auction record on out list today, it leaves the field wide open for a 1982 copper cent minted in Denver in better condition to smash the current record! In 2012, a 1982-D Large Date copper composition Lincoln cent sold for $445. It was graded as MS67 and sold through eBay.

1982-S 1C Copper

San Francisco was the only mint location to strike proof versions of the 1982 penny. This makes it particularly desirable for numismatists. A 1982-S Lincoln cent, graded at PR70 with a Deep Cameo sold for $7,080 in 2013! It was described as as-struck, and sold through Stack’s Bowers.

1982-P 1C Zinc, Large Date

The auction record for a Philadelphia struck 1982 Lincoln cent with a Large Date form was $2,401 in 2012! It was sold through eBay and graded at PCGS MS68.

1982-P 1C Zinc, Small Date

Taking a step up to several thousand dollars now, the auction record for a 1982 Lincoln cent with copper-coated zinc composition and a Small Date form was a whopping $15,600 in 2019! It was described as being in incredible condition (graded PCGS MS69!), flawless, and complete with a beautiful salmon-pink hue and satiny luster.

1982-D 1C Zinc, Large Date

The 1982 Lincoln cent minted in Denver, with a zinc composition and large date form holds an auction record of $1,880! The cent in question was deemed to be a Superb Gem with pristine detailing and brilliant orange luster. It was graded at PCGS MS68 and sold through Heritage Auctions.

1982-D 1C Zinc, Small Date

Last but certainly not least is the leader of the gang, the auction record to top all auction records. A 1982 zinc composition Lincoln cent minted in Denver, with a small date form fetched a stunning $18,000 in 2021! It was PCGS certificated and sold through eBay.

Brief Guide To Grading Coins

Grading coins is an important step in determining the value of a coin. The condition of a coin always has a significant impact on its value. It can be challenging to grade coins yourself unless you have years of experience, but a professional coin grading service can provide an accurate assessment of a coin’s condition for you. There are several organizations that offer coin grading services, including the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC).

When grading a coin, several factors are taken into consideration including the coin’s overall condition, its luster, strike, and any visible damages. Coins are typically assigned a grade on a scale from 1 to 70, with 70 being the highest possible grade for a coin in perfect condition.

Here’s a quick guide to explain some of the common terms you’ll come across when looking at coin grades:

  • Uncirculated (UNC): A coin that has never been in circulation and shows no signs of wear or tear. It appears as though it was just struck from the mint.
  • About Uncirculated (AU): A coin that has only minor signs of wear and has been in circulation for a short period of time. It has the original luster, but some of the high points of the design may show slight wear.
  • Extremely Fine (EF or XF): A coin that has been in circulation but has only minor wear. It retains most of its original luster and has sharp details in the design.
  • Very Fine (VF): A coin that has been in circulation for a longer period of time but still has well-defined details in the design. It may show some wear on the high points of the design but still retains much of its original luster.
  • Fine (F): A coin that has been in circulation for a substantial amount of time and shows significant wear. The details in the design are still visible but are not as sharp as on a Very Fine coin.
  • Very Good (VG): A coin that has heavy wear and is heavily circulated. The details in the design are still visible but are very worn.
  • Good (G): A coin that has been in circulation for an extended period of time and has significant wear. The details in the design are very difficult to see.
  • About Good (AG): A coin that has extensive wear and is nearly worn down to its basic shape. The design is barely visible.
  • Poor (P): A coin that has very heavy wear and is close to being unidentifiable. The design is nearly gone, and the coin is in very poor condition.

Grading is a complex and subjective process, and it’s important to work with a reputable grading service to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the grading process. A coin’s grade can have a significant impact on its value, so it’s important to invest in a professional grading service if you’re considering buying or selling a collectible coin.

Buying And Selling Coins

Buying rare and unusual pennies online is pretty easy as long as you know exactly what you are looking for. Ensure you thoroughly research the exact version of the coin you would like. Equipping yourself with knowledge is the best way to identify fakes or forgeries and become familiar with the key ID features of your chosen coin.

Always make sure you are buying pennies from a reputable seller. Usually reputable sellers include very detailed information and several photographs in the coin listing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out more – most coin enthusiasts are happy to share information and spread their knowledge. Also look out for valid certification in the listing from Third Party Graders like the PGCS.

Three sites you can try to buy coins from are:

  • eBay – here you can search for the exact type of coin you are looking for, and get an idea of the kinds of prices they are sold for. You can filter by mint location, certification, grade, date, price, and more! Selling through eBay is also recommended. Bear in mind you will build your reputation through successful selling, so if you have already sold good through eBay and received 5 stars you are already considered a reputable seller.
  • Heritage Auctions – Heritage Auctions is a leading auction house for collectible currency and offers a variety of coins for sale, including rare and unique pennies. If you sign up, you can see previous auction results and more.
  • Numista – through this site, you can find out a lot of information about coins from around the world. You can also swap coins with other members (Coin Swappers) and track down listings for the coin you are interested in purchasing.

You can also try antique or vintage stores specialising in coins and paper money, or ask around on specialised numismatic forums for advice and coin swaps.

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