1938 Wheat Penny Coin Value: How Much Is It Worth?

1938 Penny Value

Once when large copper coin production became too expensive, small pennies occurred as an excellent solution. Undoubtedly, the Lincoln what cents released to honor the centenary of the President’s birth are the most popular in the collection.

The 1938 penny value depends on several factors, including their grade and the mint mark as the crucial ones. Plus, collectors appreciate its unique feature to depict the same person on both obverse and reverse.

1938 Wheat Penny value

Condition 1938 No Mint mark cent 1938 D cent 1938 S cent
Good $0.17 $0.22 $0.45
Very good $0.22 $0.33 $0.56
Fine $0.33 $0.56 $0.67
Very fine $0.45 $0.90 $0.85
Extra fine $1.13 $1.42 $1.25
AU $2.28 $3.30 $3.30
MS 60 $4.52 $4.52 $4.52
MS 63 $10 $10 $9.13
PR 63 $67 / /

1938 Penny Value Guides

The total 1938 penny mintage in three mints was 191,886,734 pieces, including coins from the regular strikes and proofs. The Philadelphia mint produced both coin types and reached the highest penny number this year.

1938 No Mint mark Penny Value

1938 Lincoln No Mint mark Penny

The 1938 Lincoln wheat cents from Philadelphia are inexpensive coins. Any of survived pieces among the 156,682,000 produced is worth at least $0.05 when they are collectibles.

1938 Lincoln wheat No Mint mark cent value

Condition Brown 1938 cent Red-brown 1938 cent Red 1938 cent
AU $0.08 to $0.09 / /
MS 60 $1 to $1.20 / /
MS 61 $1.25 to $1.50 / /
MS 62 $1.50 to $1.80 / /
MS 63 $1.75 to $2.10 $2 to $2.40 $3 to $3.60
MS 64 $2 to $2.40 $3 to $3.60 $6 to $7.20
MS 65 $3 to $3.60 $6 to $7.20 $10 to $14
MS 66 / $10 to $15 $30 to $36
MS 67 / / $115 to $138

On the other hand, cents in the mint state with brown toning come with a price range of $1 to $3.50. Red ones in an MS 67 grade can reach $115 to $140 at auctions.

A rare exception is the red-colored 1938 MS 68 penny. After one collector purchased this piece for $6,325 in 2005, it became the most expensive piece in the set.

1938 proof Penny Value

1938 proof Lincoln Penny

The Philadelphia mint struck 14,734 proofs in 1938 besides regular cents. The least expensive are brown pieces, and you should set aside $20 to $120 to get one.

1938 Lincoln cent (proof) value

Condition Brown 1938 PR cent Red-brown 1938 PR cent Red 1938 PR cent
PR 60 $20 to $24 / /
PR 61 $25 to $30 $35 to $42 $55 to $66
PR 62 $30 to $36 $40 to $48 $65 to $78
PR 63 $35 to $42 $45 to $54 $80 to $96
PR 64 $60 to $72 $84 to $90 $110 to $132
PR 65 $80 to $96 $108 to $120 $160 to $192
PR 66 $100 to $120 $120 to $144 $280 to $336
PR 67 / $850 to $1,020 $950 to $1,100

 The most valuable are red coins with a PR 67 rating that often cost up to $1,100. The most expensive is one of these pennies with cameo contrast. Its current auction record is $14,400. 

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1938 D Penny Value

1938 D Lincoln Penny

With 20,010,000 produced pennies, the Denver mint had a significantly lower mintage than Philadelphia. Preserved coins are worth $0.15 to $1 when in circulated condition, while those that never spent a day in use can reach a price of $1.25 to $5.

1938 D Lincoln wheat cent value

Condition Brown 1938 D cent Red-brown 1938 D cent Red 1938 D cent
AU $0.50 to $0.90 / /
MS 60 $1.25 to $1.50 / /
MS 61 $1.50 to $1.80 / /
MS 62 $1.75 to $2.10 / /
MS 63 $2 to $2.40 $2.50 to $3 $3 to $3.60
MS 64 $3 to $3.60 $4 to $4.80 $7 to $9
MS 65 $4 to $4.80 $6 to $7.20 $12 to $16
MS 66 / $10 to $15 $26 to $32
MS 67 / / $130 to $160

 Only red-toned cents in the highest grades are more valuable and typically cost $3 to $160, depending on preservation level. One such penny in an MS 68 grade was purchased for $4,313 in 2007.

1938 S Penny Value

1938 S Lincoln Penny

The San Francisco mint achieved the lowest mintage in 1938, with 15,180,000 struck cents. Collectible pieces are worth $0.15 to $5, depending on grades.

1938 S Lincoln wheat cent value

Condition Brown 1938 S cent Red-brown 1938 S cent Red 1938 S cent
AU $0.50 to $0.90 / /
MS 60 $1.50 to $1.80 / /
MS 61 $1.75 to $2.10 / /
MS 62 $2 to $2.40 / /
MS 63 $2.50 to $3 $3 to $3.60 $3 to $3.60
MS 64 $3 to $3.60 $4 to $4.80 $5 to $6
MS 65 $4 to $4.80 $5 to $6 $8 to $10
MS 66 / $10 to $15 $30 to $36
MS 67 / / $135 to $162

Pennies with beautiful red toning are the most desirable, and their price often comes to $3 to $160. Interestingly, none of these coins is among the five most expensive in the set, although one lovely red specimen was paid $2,115 at an auction in 2014.

Related Posts: 16 Most Valuable Wheat Penny Errors

1938 Penny Errors

All Lincoln penny sets are full of errors, but those minted in 1938 have no significant imperfections. However, their price is always a bit higher than regular pieces because collectors like their uniqueness.

1938 Penny Off-center

Off-center pennies are common errors among Wheat pennies, and these coins cost differently, depending on the off-center percentage and the date presence. Cents produced in 1938 typically come with up to 20% off-center and are typically worth $25 to $50.

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1938 Penny Doubled die

1938 Penny Doubled Die

Lincoln penny die errors are popular among collectors. On pieces struck in 1938, the most common are doublings on wheat ears or E PLURIBUS UNUM. Their price is at least $25, depending on the doubling level.

1938 Penny BIE die break

This error is typical for the Lincoln cent series, and many collectors like having one of these coins in their collections. This particular error includes a vertical line in the word LIBERTY between letters B and E, resulting from an imperfect die. You can expect to get $5 and $15 for the 1938 BIE penny.

1938 Penny Re-punched mint mark

1938 Penny Re-punched mint mark

Punching the mint mark onto the dies by hand often resulted in this error type. The most popular re-punched mint mark error in this set is a small S letter over-punched by a large S. You can sell such a piece for approximately $10. However, one of these cents won the auction record after selling for $760 on eBay in 2021.

Related Posts: 19 Most Valuable Lincoln Memorial Penny Worth Money

History of the 1938 Lincoln Penny

The first Lincoln cents appeared in circulation in 1909 when Victor D. Brenner came up with this design at President Theodore Roosevelt’s request. The idea was to redesign American coinage and commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of the man who abolished slavery.

1938 Lincoln wheat cent

Location Year Minted
Philadelphia 1938 No Mint mark cent 156,682,000
Philadelphia 1938 proof cent 14,734
San Francisco 1938 S cent 15,180,000
Denver 1938 D cent 20,010,000
Total / 191,886,734

The first Wheat pennies were released into circulation on August 2, 1909, as the first American coin depicting a real person in history. Many collectors enjoy collecting these attractive and historically significant coins nowadays. Plus, their low prices make them easily accessible to everyone.

One-cent specimens issued in 1938 have been in circulation for over eight decades, making them highly collectible. Even though the set is beautiful, pieces with this year on the obverse are no different from others. Their primary significance is in completing the series.

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Related Posts: 19 Most Valuable Wheat Penny Worth Money

How to Identify 1938 Lincoln Penny?

Wheat pennies struck in 1938 came with a modest mintage but are abundant on the market nowadays. They are an excellent and appealing option for new collectors and those who like collecting coins but have a limited budget.

The obverse of the 1938 Lincoln cent

obverse of the 1938 Lincoln cent

You can notice that Abraham Lincoln’s profile, depicted in detail, dominates the coin center. On the obverse left is a raised inscription LIBERTY, while 1938, representing the minting year, is placed on the right.

You should know that the Lincoln cent is the first penny in American coinage history that includes the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. You can see it above the President’s head.

Since 1918, the designer’s initials were returned to the coin, but on the obverse this time. You can find them near Lincoln’s shoulder. Except for coins produced in Philadelphia, all others have the mint mark under the date.

The reverse of the 1938 Lincoln cent

reverse of the 1938 Lincoln cent

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The simple coin reverse features two wheat ears surrounding the ONE CENT denomination and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA positioned below it. As you know, the words E*PLURIBUS*UNUM are required on American coinage. In this case, the saying is placed along the top rim.

1938 Lincoln wheat cent

Face value $0.01 (one cent)
Coin weight 3.11 g (0.10971 ounces)
Shape Round
Edge Plain
Coin thickness 1 mm (0.03937 inches)
Coin diameter 19.05 mm (1.75 inches)
Compound An alloy of copper (95%) with tin  or zinc

The 1938 Lincoln cent other features

Wheat pennies minted in 1938 are round, 1 mm (0.03937 inches) thick coins with a plain edge. They mainly contain copper, but the alloy includes a low percentage of zinc or tin, as well. These coins’ weight is 3.11 g (0.10971 ounces), and their diameter is precisely 19.05 mm (1.75 inches).

What makes a 1938 Penny rare?

Besides a few error coins that cost more than regular ones, you can’t find particularly scarce cents produced in 1938. However, some coins were paid more than expected at auctions, thanks to their beauty and unique appearance.

Which 1938 Penny is the most precious on the coin market?

  • 1938 PR 67 CAM cent is worth $14,400 (Stack’s Bowers, 2020)
  • 1938 MS 68 RD cent is worth $6,325 (Heritage Auctions, 2005)
  • 1938 PR 67+ RD cent is worth $4,700 Heritage Auctions, 2016)
  • 1938 D MS 68 RD cent is worth $4,313 (Heritage Auctions, 2007)
  • 1938 MS 64 RB cent is worth $3,163 (Heritage Auctions, 2001)
  • 1938 PR 67 RB cent is worth $2,468 (LRC Auctions, 2015)
  • 1938 S MS 67+ RD cent is worth $2,115 (Heritage Auctions, 2014)
  • 1938 AU 58 BN cent is worth $834 (Heritage Auctions, 2001)
  • 1938 S S/S MS 67 RD re-punched mint mark cent is worth $760 (eBay, 2021)
  • 1938 S S/S MS 67 RD re-punched mint mark cent is worth $740 (eBay, 2023)
  • 1938 D MS 67+ RB cent is worth $368 (eBay, 2022)
  • 1938 D/D MS 66 RD re-punched mint mark cent is worth $275 (David Lawrence RC, 2022)
  • 1938 S MS67 RD re-punched mint mark cent is worth $254 (Great Collections, 2012)
  • 1938 D MS 65 RD re-punched mint mark cent is worth $242 (Great Collections, 2012)
  • 1938 S MS 63 BN cent is worth $125 (eBay, 2019)
  • 1938 D/D AU 50 BN re-punched mint mark cent is worth $112 (eBay, 2018)
  • 1938 D MS 65 BN cent is worth $109 (eBay, 2020)
  • 1938 S MS 66 RB cent is worth $75 (eBay, 2019)

How much is 1938 No Mint mark Penny worth?

Even though the Lincoln penny prices are typically over their face value, they are often worth only $0.05. Only cents in uncirculated condition with red toning can cost $115 to $140 at auctions.

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