Coin Value Finder » 1938 Penny Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

1938 Penny Value: are “D”, “S”, No mint mark worth money?

The 1938 Wheat Penny is part of a long line of pennies. Lincoln Cent is his given name, but it is also known as Lincoln Penny. It is a more fitting name because the coin still bears Lincoln’s image on the obverse, but the reverse has undergone several redesigns over the years.

People have always given the coins whatever name they wanted, which is why, even though many one-cent coins no longer have the image of the two stalks of wheat, it is still known as the Wheat Penny.

This coin is ideal if you want to start a coin collection because it is widely available and the prices for good copies are not prohibitively expensive.

In this article, we will go over the most important things you should know before investing in a collector’s coin, as well as provide you with useful information that you can apply to many other collector’s coins.

1938 Wheat Penny Details

1938 Wheat Penny Details

  • Category: Lincoln Cents, Wheat Reverse (1909-1958)
  • Mint: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver
  • Mintage: 191,886,734
  • Obverse Designer: Victor D. Brenner
  • Reverse Designer: Victor D. Brenner
  • Composition: 95% Copper and 5% Tin and Zinc
  • Weight: 3.11g
  • Diameter: 19.05 mm
  • Edge: Plain

The wheat penny was minted in 1938 at the mints in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver. If the 14,734 proof coins minted in Philadelphia are included, a total of 191,886,734 were produced. These coins were never circulated and were only made to be sold or given away.

The 1938 Wheat Penny also has several errors, which we will discuss later so that you have a better idea of how much this coin can cost and how to identify the small details that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The 1938 penny is almost entirely made of copper. Only 5% of it is zinc. This composition would change over time, as the United States suffered several economic blows during World War II, forcing them to change the coin’s composition to zinc-coated steel.

It would later revert to its original composition until 1982. Copper became too expensive due to inflation that year, so the coin is now zinc with a copper coating.


The obverse of this coin depicts President Abraham Lincoln looking to the right in profile. It was a controversial coin because it broke with the tradition of the United States coinage.

Lady Liberty is the main character on most coins because the founding fathers wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from European monarchies.

The United States had recently gained independence, and the first president, George Washington, stated that putting the face of a real person was a custom of monarchy, which used to put the face of the king or queen in office, but Washington always wanted to avoid that.

It’s ironic because the first President of the United States is now minted on all quarters. However, the Lincoln Penny was the first coin to break the tradition of not depicting real people on coins.

Along with Lincoln’s face, the coin bears the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST and the word LIBERTY on the left side of the coin, just above Lincoln’s neck.

The minting date and mint mark are just below the year of production on the right side, at the same height as the word LIBERTY.


When compared to previous coins, the reverse of the coin is one of the simplest and most austere designs. This is also contradictory, given that Roosevelt, who desired a more artistic and sophisticated coin, championed the initiative. However, Roosevelt left office at the beginning of 1909, while the coin was issued in the middle of the year.

It is also known that the artist Roosevelt hired to redesign the penny and other coins died before being able to present a final design, so it is assumed that the president did not follow up on the project because he was months away from completing his term.

The reverse features two wheat stalks on the left and right sides of the coin’s edge. The words ONE CENT are in the center, with the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA just below.

The phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM appears at the top of the coin. This phrase means “one of many” in Latin. It is a common phrase found on all US coins.

Also Read: Top 20 Most Valuable Old Pennies Worth Money (Penny Collection)

1938 Wheat Penny Value Chart

Condition 1938  Philadelphia Wheat Penny 1938  San Francisco Wheat Penny 1938  Denver Wheat Penny 1938  Proof  Penny
Good $0.17 $0.45 $0.22
Very Good $0.22 $0.56 $033
Fine $0.33 $0.67 $0.56
Very Fine $0.45 $0.85 $0.90
Extra Fine $1.13 $1.25 $1.42
Uncirculated $2.28 $3.30 $3.30
MS 60 $4.52 $4.52 $4.52 $24
MS 63 $10 $9.13 $10 $96

1938 Wheat Penny Value and Varieties Guides

A total of 191,886,734 coins were printed in 1938. The Philadelphia mint produced the majority of the coins, with a total of 156,682,000 minted coins and a batch of 14,734 proof coins that were usually sold to collectors or given as gifts to government officials.

Denver was the second largest coin producer, with 20,010,000 minted coins, followed by San Francisco, with only 15,180,000 coins.

On the open market, the prices of these three types of coins are similar, but as the conservation grade increases, the prices change. Coins minted in San Francisco and Denver are generally more expensive than those minted in Philadelphia because there are fewer of them.

To determine what coin you have, look for a mint mark below the coin’s mint date. If your name lacks a mint mark, it means it was minted in Philadelphia.

All Philadelphia-minted coins lack a mint mark. This is true not only for the 1938 penny but for nearly all US coins.

1938 Philadelphia Wheat Penny

1938 Philadelphia Wheat Penny

  • Type: Lincoln Wheat Penny
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint Mark: No mint mark
  • Place of minting: Philadelphia
  • Year of minting: 1936
  • Face Value: $0.01 (one cent)
  • Price: $0.50 to $17 (or more)
  • Quantity produced: 156,682,000
  • Designer: Victor David Brenner
  • Composition: 95% Copper and 5% Tin and Zinc
  • Mass: 3.11 grams
  • Diameter: 19.05 mm

As previously stated, the coins minted in Philadelphia lack any distinguishing mint mark. However, this does not diminish their worth. One of these coins in good condition can be found for a dollar or two.

Uncirculated coins cost $2-3, while gem-quality coins can cost up to $10. Exclusive and perfectly preserved examples of grade MS 67, on the other hand, have sold at auction for $150.

In 2005, a special reddish hue MS 68 coin sold for $6,325 at auction.

1938 Denver Walking Wheat Penny

1938 Denver Walking Wheat Penny


  • Type: Lincoln Wheat Penny
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint Mark: D
  • Place of minting: Denver
  • Year of minting: 1936
  • Face Value: $0.01 (one cent)
  • Price: $0.50 to $15 (or more)
  • Quantity produced: 20,010,000
  • Designer: Victor David Brenner
  • Composition: 95% Copper and 5% Tin and Zinc
  • Mass: 3.11 grams
  • Diameter: 19.05 mm

The number of Denver coins produced was far less than that of Philadelphia. Denver minted 20,010,000 coins, many of which have survived well over the years.

Specimens in good condition can be found for less than a dollar. While uncirculated coins are more expensive, they only cost $5 each.

However, keep in mind that coins with a distinctive red hue that have never been in circulation are in high demand. These coins can cost up to $150. In 2007, one of these MS 68-grade coins sold for $4,313.00.

1938 San Francisco Wheat Penny

1938 San Francisco Wheat Penny


  • Type: Lincoln Wheat Penny
  • Edge: Plain
  • Mint Mark: S
  • Place of minting: San Francisco
  • Year of minting: 1936
  • Face Value: $0.01 (one cent)
  • Price: $0.50 to $12 (or more)
  • Quantity produced: 15,180,000
  • Designer: Victor David Brenner
  • Composition: 95% Copper and 5% Tin and Zinc
  • Mass: 3.11 grams
  • Diameter: 19.05 mm

Finally, the San Francisco mint produced 15,180,000 coins. Despite producing the fewest coins, they are no more expensive than those made in Philadelphia or Denver.

You can buy them for $0.15 to $5 depending on the degree of conservation. The non-circulating coins range in value from 6 to 160 dollars.

The coins with a nice shade of red that are perfectly preserved, however, are the most interesting. In 2014, one of these copies sold for $2,115.

1938 Wheat Penny History

President Roosevelt complained about US coins to his secretary of the Treasury in 1904. The coins lacked artistic value in the president’s opinion, and he proposed skipping the usual public contests to hire a private artist and assigning him the redesign of various coins that had already been in circulation for more than 25 years.

In the United States, at least 25 years had to elapse before changing the design of a coin without consulting Congress.

So the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was hired, and he was tasked with designing five new coins. The copper penny, as well as four other gold coins.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens originally designed the penny with an eagle image, but after learning that an eagle could not be used on a penny, his designs were modified to be used on a pair of gold coins.

However, while redesigning the coin, the sculptor became ill and died before completing the work.

At President Roosevelt’s request, sculptor Victor David Brenner, who had previously created commemorative medals for the government, was hired.

Brenner had previously created a Lincoln plaque for President Roosevelt, so he was given specific instructions to create the coin with Lincoln’s face on it.

The Lincoln Cent is one of the most popular coins in the United States, attracting collectors from all over the world. There are specimens available for a few cents as well as uncirculated coins worth thousands of dollars.

1938 Wheat Penny Grading

It is critical to distinguish the grades of a coin in order to determine its true value. Circulating coins have a completely different value than uncirculated or gem-quality coins. This video will provide you with useful information about the various grades of the coin and their market prices.

List of 1938 Wheat Penny Errors

The 1938 cent contains several errors. Here, we also leave you with a video so that you can educate yourself in depth, and we will also mention the most common errors that you should look for.

1. Off-center Penny

Off-center coins are one of the most common errors in Lincoln cents. In normal circumstances, one of these coins costs between $30 and $60. Uncirculated copies, on the other hand, are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

2. Doubled die Penny

Doubled die Penny


The duplicate ears of wheat or the phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM distinguish this coin, which has die errors. The most basic coins range in price from $20 to $30, but those that have never been in circulation can cost hundreds of dollars.

3. BIE die break Penny

These coins have a vertical line in the word LIBERTY. The simplest, regular-quality specimens cost $15 each.

4. Repunched mint mark Penny

Repunched mint mark Penny


Formerly the brand of mint was produced manually. This often causes the dry brand to be duplicated. These coins can be purchased for $10, but copies have sold for over $700 each.

1938 Wheat Penny FAQ

What makes a 1938 penny valuable?

The 1938 coin is part of a series that began in 1909 and ended in 1958. All Lincoln’s cents from those years are worth something. Most range in price from $0.15 to $5. There are, however, more expensive coins. It will be determined by the degree of conservation. Gem-quality coins can be worth several thousand dollars. The key, however, is how well-preserved they are and whether or not they have any minting errors.

How much is a 1938 wheat leaf penny worth?

Coins in average circulation condition cost about 35 cents. Coins that have not been in circulation can range in price from $10 to $150, depending on the characteristics of the coin. However, many of these gem-quality coins fetch more than $1000 at auction.

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