What makes a 1983 D penny rare? The 1983 D Lincoln penny can be quite valuable if it has certain rare qualities. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what to look for in your 1983 D pennies that can make them rare and valuable for coin collectors.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Key things that make a 1983 D penny rare and valuable are having a doubled die, being made of copper instead of zinc, major errors like off-center strikes, and a high-grade MS-68.

Read on as we dive into the details around each of these factors and what contributes to the rarity and value of 1983 D Lincoln pennies.

Doubled Die Varieties

1983 D Doubled Ear

The 1983 D Lincoln cent with a doubled ear is one of the more famous and valuable doubled-die varieties. This coin features a strong doubling of Lincoln’s ear on the obverse side. Under a magnifying glass, you can see a distinct secondary impression of the ear shifted slightly counterclockwise from the primary ear outline.

This doubled ear variety is listed in the Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties as FS-101 and is valued at around $75-100 for specimens in uncirculated condition. Only a small number of the 1983 D cents got struck with this dramatic doubled die, making it scarce and popular with Lincoln cent variety collectors.

According to the website NGCcoin.com, the 1983 D doubled ear cents were likely caused by a hub doubling during the minting process. Coins with strong visible secondary impressions like this are the result of the hub stamping the coin blank slightly out of alignment between strikes.

  • Tips for spotting the 1983 D doubled ear variety:
    • Use a coin magnifier to inspect Lincoln’s ear for clear doubling
    • Look for the secondary ear outline rotated slightly CCW from the primary ear
    • Uncirculated specimens can sell for up to $100

1983 D Doubled Die Reverse

In addition to the popular doubled ear obverse, there is also a 1983 D Lincoln Cent with a doubled die reverse. This one shows a doubling of the lettering and wheat stalks on the reverse design. Under magnification, you can see spread images shifted slightly clockwise.

The 1983 D DDR is listed in the Cherrypicker’s guide as FS-801 and is scarcer than the doubled-ear version. According to NGCcoin.com, only around a dozen examples of this doubled die reverse are known, making it very rare.

Grade Value
MS-65 $2,000-$3,000
MS-64 $1,250-$1,500

As you can see from the value listings, gem uncirculated specimens with the full red luster of the 1983 D DDR command premium prices up to $3,000. However, even lower-grade circulated examples still sell for hundreds of dollars due to their rarity.

  • Tips for identifying the 1983 D DDR:
    • Use a coin magnifier to inspect lettering, and wheat stalks on reverse
    • Look for secondary images shifted slightly clockwise
    • Very rare, uncirculated coins worth over $1,000

Copper Composition Errors

Pennies minted in 1983 with errors in their copper composition are highly sought-after by coin collectors and can be quite valuable. These rare coins were produced when the United States Mint was transitioning from making pennies primarily out of copper to using cheaper zinc cores coated with copper.

The 1983 Copper Transition

Before 1983, pennies contained about 95% copper. However, rising copper prices in the early 1980s made producing full copper cents too expensive, so the composition was changed to 97.6% zinc with a thin copper coating.

This transition officially started in 1983, leading to some unintended errors where some pennies were struck without the zinc core or with less copper coating than intended. These mistakes created two categories of rare and valuable 1983 pennies:

  • 1983 copper pennies – Struck on solid copper blanks intended for pre-1983 cents
  • 1983 D pennies missing copper plating – Zinc core not properly plated

Valuable All-Copper 1983 Pennies

During the hasty transition, some blanks intended for pre-1983 full-copper cents incorrectly made it into the presses, creating rare 1983 pennies made of nearly solid copper. These copper errors stand out from normal 1983 cents because they are noticeably lighter in color and have a distinctive ring when dropped due to increased copper content.

Most 1983 copper cents are known to have been minted in Philadelphia, but some 1983-D pennies struck at the Denver Mint may also exist. While regular 1983 pennies have a face value, these rare all-copper versions can be worth upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 depending on condition.

Missing Copper Plating on 1983-D Cents

In addition to the copper blank mix-ups, problems with the new plating process at the Denver Mint led to some 1983-D pennies getting struck without copper coating the zinc core. These errors stand out for having a pinkish-silver hue rather than the brown copper color.

While not as valuable as full solid-copper cents, these plating errors are also popular with collectors and can sell for $500 – $2,000 if properly authenticated and graded.

Careful examination is needed to confirm that a penny is a genuine 1983 error rather than a regular cent that may have copper corroded away over time.

Major Mint Errors

Off-Center Strikes

Off-center strikes happen when the coin is not properly aligned between the hammer die and the anvil die during the minting process. This results in part of the coin design being missing or clipped off to one side.

In extreme cases, the off-center error can reveal the unetched surface of the coin blank.

Off-center 1983 D pennies are rare and valuable to error coin collectors. Less than 1% of all 1983-D cents are estimated to have this kind of dramatic mint error. The more off-center the image is displaced, the more desirable the coin.

A 1983 D penny that is 60-75% off-center can sell for $2,500+ if in mint state condition.

Broadstruck Errors

Broadstruck errors happen when a coin is struck without the collar die in place. This causes the coin to spread out and appear stretched/distorted. On broadstruck cents, you will notice the wide, rounded rim and loss of detail toward the outer edges of the coin.

Broadstruck errors tend to bring substantial premiums among collectors and enthusiasts. The broadstruck effect stands out and gives the coin a unique look. An expertly graded broadstruck 1983 D cent recently sold at auction for $5,750. That’s nearly 60 times its original face value!

Condition and Grading

When evaluating the rarity and value of a 1983 D penny, the most important factor is the coin’s condition and grade. Here are some key things to consider:

Surface Condition

The surface condition directly impacts the grade and value. Some aspects to inspect closely:

  • Marks, scratches, or other damage on the coin’s surface
  • Discoloration, toning, or patina
  • How much original mint luster is still visible

A cleaner, damage-free surface will receive a higher grade. Cleaning coins improperly can scratch the surface and drastically reduce value.

Wear and Tear

Examining wear will reveal how well the coin has held up in circulation:

  • Have the high points of the design, like the high hair details, worn down significantly?
  • Is the text and date still sharp and well-defined?

Less wear means a higher grade. Heavily worn coins have a lower market value. However, collectors sometimes target well-worn rare dates for their albums.


Mint luster refers to the original sheen a coin has when freshly struck:

  • A bright, glowy finish signals excellent preservation of luster.
  • Dull, dark coins have had their luster disturbed or worn away.

Coins that retain full original mint luster receive the highest grades. Luster is a key marker of quality.

Grading Scales

Third-party grading services like PCGS and NGC provide numeric grades from 1 through 70, with 70 representing a perfect coin. Higher grades exponentially increase the value of rare coins like the 1983 D penny.

For circulated, lower-grade examples, the 1-59 point Sheldon scale is sometimes used.

Mint State (MS)-60 to 70 Unused and uncirculated
About Uncirculated (AU)-50 to 58 Very light wear only extremely
y Fine (EF)-40 to 45 Lightly circulated
Very Fine (VF)-20 to 35 Well-circulated
Fine (F)-12 to 15 Heavily worn
Very Good (VG)-8 to 10 Extremely well-worn good
d (G)-4 to 6 Heavy damage from circulation about
t Good (AG)-3 Barely recognizable details

Understanding this grading language is key for both selling and buying coins.

Inspecting a 1983 D penny under bright, direct lighting and with a magnifying glass is recommended. This reveals the subtle points around wear, luster, and blemishes that impact condition and grade.

Photographic images and descriptions from the grading service provide the official documentation and certification of grade and authenticity.

What Makes A 1983 D Penny Rare – Conclusion

We’ve covered the main factors like doubled dies, copper planchet errors, major mint errors, and high grading that contribute to the rarity and value of 1983 D Lincoln cents.

Knowing what to look for when coin roll hunting or buying individual specimens can help you discover valuable 1983 D pennies for your collection.

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