1945 Wheat Penny

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1945 Wheat Penny Overview

The 1945 Wheat Penny, which features the traditional Lincoln bust on the obverse and a Wheat reverse, is a coin that is widely loved by collectors and investors, alike, with an interesting history and origin story. With a long run of 50 years of production from the US mint, this series was first minted in 1909 through 1958.

The Wheat Penny is the only coin that has seen the United States go through the Great Depression and two world wars. Initially minted as a replacement for the Indian Head Penny, the Wheat Penny was prized by consumers. The overwhelming popularity for the new Wheat Penny is what led to its eventual long-running 50-year life.

The 1945 Wheat Penny is one of the few coins for which no proofs were made in 1945 because of the war. The pennies minted in '45 are often called "shellcase pennies", due to the fact that some of the metal used in the pennies was from spent shells from military bases in an effort to recycle material. These pennies were also made without tin. This did not effect the appearance. Coin history. Currency. Coin collecting. 1945 Wheat Penny.

The Wheat Penny was designed by Victor D. Brenner, and is officially known as the Lincoln cent, featuring a former president for the first time, despite protests from conservatives which desired to hold to the old standard of not putting presidents on coins, based on the direction from George Washington. 

Despite the initial pushback, Theodore Roosevelt eventually selected the 16th President Abraham Lincoln for the new penny design in order to celebrate the 100th year of Lincoln’s birth. Following minting, consumers loved the coin, but initial criticism about Brenner’s large initials resulted in a slight design change to reduce their size.

Brenner’s design on the obverse featured a bust of Lincoln facing right, with “IN GOD WE TRUST” centered above it. The date is located  in the lower right of the obverse design with “LIBERTY” on the left side of Lincoln’s shoulder.

1945 wheat penny

The reverse design shows two wheat ears surrounding the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “ONE CENT”. “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is centered above this main design element. Generally, Brenner intended to design a simple but effective reverse side.

Collectors frequently select the Wheat Penny as the very first series to collect because of its high visibility and price, and because of its long run, this allows collectors to enjoy finding these coins widely.

In fact, the Wheat Penny series is not only the longest-minted coin in US history, as well as being produced in far greater numbers than any other coin known to be minted in the history of the world. 

The Wheat Pennies’ legacy continues to live on, with it being one of the most easily recognizable coins that are no longer in circulation. Most collectors do have some type of Wheat Penny Collection, and it is the coin that brought most people to coin collecting in the first place.

If you want to learn more about the Wheat Penny or other rare and collectible cents, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Pennies.

History of the 1945 Wheat Penny

Two mint locations, San Francisco and Philadelphia, struck pennies in 1945. 

San Francisco struck by far the least with 181,770,000. Philadelphia, on the other hand, struck 1,040,515,000 quarters. 

This particular issue had an enormous mintage, only exceeded by the 1944 mintage, not to be exceeded until the 1956 penny issuance. 

1945 was the second year of “shellcase” penny production, because some portion of the metal used in the pennies was from brass cartridge cases in an effort to make good reuse of the metal from military training bases. The only significant difference between the pennies of 1945 and those of pre-war composition was the lack of tin. Because tin typically comprises just 1% of the total coin mass, the lack of tin is not evident upon visual inspection.

1945 Wheat Penny Proofs

No Wheat Penny proofs were minted in 1945 due to the World War.

Valuing the 1945 Wheat Penny

Roughly, this coins value, in average condition, can be estimated to be valued at about $0.15, while a 1945 Wheat Penny in certified mint state (MS+) condition might auction for as much as $3*. 

Bestseller No. 1
1950 S Lincoln Wheat Penny Average Circulated Good to Fine
  • 1950-S Lincoln Wheat Penny Average Circulated
Bestseller No. 2
1950 D Lincoln Wheat Penny Average Circulated Good to Fine
  • 1950-D Lincoln Wheat Penny Average Circulated
Bestseller No. 3
1950 S Lincoln Wheat Cent Red OBR Penny Nearly Superb Gem Brilliant Uncirculated
  • 1950 S Lincoln Wheat Cent Penny Red OBR Nearly Superb Gem Brilliant Uncirculated

* This estimated value does not reference any standard coin grading scale. So, when we state ‘average’, this is meant to mean ‘in a similar condition to other coins issued in 1945’, and ‘mint state’ meaning the coin has been certified MS+ by one of the top coin grading companies

1945 wheat penny

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