1971 D Lincoln Penny: Mint Error Brings Added Value

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Lincoln Memorial Penny Overview

One of the most well known and longest running series of coins in US history is the Lincoln Memorial Penny. First minted in 1909, the Lincoln cent originally had a wheat stalk reverse, resulting in the nickname of “wheat penny.”

In 1959 the Lincoln cent was updated to replace the wheat stalks on the reverse with a depiction of the Lincoln Memorial. This new reverse was designed by Frank Gasparro and was a way to honor Lincoln, as well as update an outdated design.

The reverse also features the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” centered at the top, with the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” directly below. The denomination, “ONE CENT”, can be found directly centered directly below the Lincoln Memorial.

Victor D. Brenner was the designer of the original Lincoln cent, and his portrait of Lincoln has not changed since 1909. Brenner’s obverse design features president Lincoln facing to the right, with the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” centered above. “LIBERTY” can be found in the left field and the date and mint mark on the right.

Lincoln Memorial cents minted before 1982 are composed of 95% copper and 5% tin/zinc. All cents minted after 1982 are made with a new, cheaper composition of 97.5% inner zinc layer and 2.5% copper coating.

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

History of the 1971 D Lincoln Memorial Penny

Although not that much different from prior Lincoln Memorial pennies, the 1971 D penny does have some interesting characteristics compared to other dates in the series.

One of these interesting characteristics is that most 1971 D Lincoln Memorial pennies have a full and very detailed strike. This is due to the mint using stronger dies during the minting process that resulted in a cleaner and more detailed strike.

The “D” next to the date signifies that this coin was minted in Denver. During 1971, the Denver mint produced 2,911,045,000 examples to help meet consumer demand. This number is smaller than most years after 1982 because of the high cost associated with minting a penny.

Like all other Lincoln Memorial pennies, the 1971 D has a diameter of 19.05mm and weight of 2.5 grams. No reeding can be found around the edge of the coin.

Lincoln Penny

Image Source Flickr user frankieleon

The 1971 D Doubled Obverse

Be sure to take a close look at your 1971 D Lincoln Memorial penny to see if it exhibits a rare mint error. This error can potentially make your coin more valuable, depending on its severity and the coin’s condition.

The error that can affect the 1971 D Lincoln Memorial penny is known as a Doubled Die, which occurs when a coin is struck with a die that has a doubled image. This causes certain elements of the coin appear to overlap.

With the 1971 D Lincoln Memorial penny, the doubling can be seen on the obverse in the legend “IN GOD WE TRUST.” In most cases, the doubling is very subtle and requires some form of magnification to be seen properly.

If you determine that your 1971 D penny has a Doubled Die obverse, be sure to take the coin to a reputable coin dealer for a professional opinion. If the dealer also agrees on the error, sending the coin to a third party grading company will help determine the grade of the coin and confirm the error.

How to Value the 1971 D Lincoln Memorial Penny

Like most modern coins, the 1971 D Lincoln Memorial penny was minted in huge quantities and can commonly be found in everyday circulation. This makes even uncirculated examples worth only a couple cents over face value. Uncirculated examples are only valued at fifty cents.

Although common versions of the 1971 D Lincoln Memorial pennies are worth very little, those that display the Doubled Die Obverse can be worth significantly more.

An average grade 1971 D Doubled Die Obverse is worth about $10-$20. Uncirculated examples with heavy doubling have sold for over $150!

Due to the rarity of this type of error, these coins are not found in the market frequently. This means that the given prices are estimates, and can vary greatly based on collector demand.

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