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1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny Value (Major Varieties & Rare Errors)

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny Value (Major Varieties & Rare Errors)

The Lincoln Memorial penny (also called the Lincoln cent or Lincoln penny) is a copper-colored one-cent piece still in circulation today. But while most Lincoln Memorial pennies are worth exactly $0.01 (their listed denomination), some have much greater values due to rarity, age, or striking errors.

Although the 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny isn’t the rarest or most valuable one-cent coin, its value varies significantly depending on a number of factors. In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that impact this penny’s value and reveal which 1966 Lincoln Memorial pennies are worth the most. Let’s begin!

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny Value Chart

1966 RDNone$7$18$900
1966 RB$3$6$10None
1966 BNFace valueFace value$2None
1966 SMS RD$2$6$10$28
1966 SMS CAM$18$80$185$1,500
1966 SMS DCAMNone$160$1,000None

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny: A Brief History of the One-Cent Coin

Half-cent and one-cent coins were the first U.S. coins ever produced by the U.S. Mint. The half-cent was discontinued in 1857, making the penny the oldest still-in-production coin in the U.S.

Still, the one-cent coins struck in 1793 look very different from the Lincoln pennies we recognize today.

For a start, they were much larger than modern-day pennies (which is why they were called large cents). These coins also contained far more copper than the pennies produced today.

In fact, all pennies produced from 1793 to 1856 were 100% copper. For perspective, pennies struck from 1983 onwards are only 2.5% copper! In 1856, these large one-cent coins were sized down, becoming the much smaller specimens we’re familiar with today.

The Lincoln penny’s story began in 1909. Before this year, pennies bore the image of “Liberty” wearing a headdress. This image is why these pre-Lincoln pennies are called Indian Head cents.

But not all Lincoln pennies are Lincoln Memorial pennies.

The first Lincoln one-cent pieces featured a wheat wreath on their reverse sides, earning the name Lincoln Wheat pennies (or simply Wheat pennies). In 1959, the penny’s reverse face experienced a design change, with the wheat wreath being replaced by an image of the Lincoln Memorial (hence the coin’s name).

In 2008, this iconic one-cent coin’s design was again changed, eventually leading to the current Lincoln Union Shield cent that’s still in production.

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny: Design

The U.S. one-cent coin has featured a profile image of President Abraham Lincoln’s head on its obverse (front) side since 1909. But the reverse (back) side has gone through four major changes over the last 100+ years.

The second of these alterations is the switch from a wheat wreath to an image of the Lincoln Memorial.

This design change was made official on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth: February 12, 1959. In fact, the chance to honor the 16th president further was one of the primary reasons (if not the only reason) why the Wheat penny was discontinued and replaced with the Lincoln Memorial penny.

And while many numismatists at the time were pleased with the design change, others commented that the new penny’s reverse design resembled a railway car more than the famous memorial in Washington, D.C. But a little controversy is expected when a new coin design is released.

Obverse Side

photo source: PCGS

On the front (or obverse) side of the 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny, you’ll find:

  • The statement “IN GOD WE TRUST” motto/edge device arched at the top of the coin
  • A right-facing profile image (called a device) of Abraham Lincoln that extends from directly beneath “IN GOD WE TRUST” to the bottom edge of the coin
  • “LIBERTY” legend on the left side of the coin, just below the middle point (parallel with Lincoln’s collar)
  • The year “1966” on the bottom right corner of the coin, about level with Lincoln’s upper chest

Reverse Side

photo source: PCGS

On the back (or reverse) side of the 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny, you’ll find:

  • “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” edge device arched at the top of the coin
  • “E.PLURIBUS.UNUM.” motto directly beneath the arched “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” with “E.PLURIBUS” directly above “.UNUM.”
  • A stylized image of the Lincoln Memorial
  • “ONE CENT” denomination on the bottom portion of the coin (arched upward in direct contrast to the upper portion’s “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”)

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny: Features and Specifications

In many ways, the 1966 penny is identical to the 1965 penny. The only real difference between these one-cent coins (besides the date displayed on the obverse side) is the mintage.

The U.S. Mint struck just over 2 billion pennies in 1966. But in 1965, it only struck about 1.497 billion. Consequently, the 1965 Lincoln Memorial penny is slightly rarer than the 1966 one-cent piece.

Still, all Lincoln Memorial pennies minted between 1965 and 1967 are comprised of 95% copper (the rest being a mixture of zinc and tin). Additionally, all U.S. coins produced during these years lack mint marks, which is another defining feature to look for.

1966 Penny No Mint Mark

photo source: PCGS

The Coinage Act of 1965 is best known for its impact on silver percentages in dimes, quarters, and half dollars. But this act also impacted the standard designs of all U.S. coins struck between 1965 and 1967 by eliminating mint marks to discourage collecting. Namely, it led to the absence of mint marks.

This might not seem like a huge deal, especially considering the fact that nearly all pennies produced in the 1960s lacked mint marks. The only exceptions were one-cent pieces minted at the Denver Mint facility, which bore a small letter “D” beneath the year marking.

All Lincoln Memorial pennies ever struck at the Philadelphia Mint facility lack a mint mark.

The only exception is pennies produced in 2017 to celebrate the U.S. Mint’s 225th anniversary. These pennies, the only Lincoln cents to ever bear the “P” mint mark, are highly collectible and easily identifiable thanks to this commemorative mint mark.

Still, no matter where the penny was struck, all 1966 pennies lack mint marks. This lack of markings differentiates them from pennies struck before 1965 and after 1967.

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny: Value Comparison

The 1966 penny value fluctuates significantly depending on the specific coin’s condition, coloration, and initial quality. To better understand how much a 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny is worth, let’s examine the four standard types:

  • The 1966 RD Lincoln Memorial penny
  • The 1966 RB Lincoln Memorial penny
  • The 1966 BN Lincoln Memorial penny
  • The 1966 SMS Lincoln Memorial penny

1966 RD Lincoln Memorial Penny

photo source: PCGS

The average 1966 RD (Red) Lincoln Memorial penny is only worth about $2. But this coin can also sell for more than $6,000. The differences almost always comes down to grading.

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) assigns coins a grade that varies between Ungradeable (the coin is damaged to the point of almost being unrecognizable) and MS-70 (Mint State Perfect).

The most valuable 1966 RD Lincoln pennies are those with a grade of MS-64 or higher.

For example, a 1966 Red Lincoln Memorial penny with a PCGS grade of MS-65 has an estimated value of $18. But a MS-67 version is valued at $900.

However, finding a 1966 RD Lincoln Memorial cent in such exceptional condition is rare. As of this writing, the PCGS has only given the MS-67 grade to 16 of these coins.

Still, when compared to the other types of 1966 Lincoln pennies (primarily Red Brown and Brown varieties), it becomes apparent that the RD penny is the most valuable.

1966 RB Lincoln Memorial Penny

photo source: PCGS

1966 RB (Red Brown) Lincoln Memorial pennies feature a combination of rich red and dark brown hues, and some also have a slight iridescence that imparts a slight rainbow effect. The most that an RB Lincoln Memorial penny has ever fetched at auction is $200.

Most of these mixed-hue coins are in comparatively lackluster condition. PCGS’s top grade for the 1966 RB Lincoln Memorial penny is MS-66. There are no known MS-67 coins.

Overall, the 1966 Red Brown Lincoln Memorial penny is worth less than its Red counterpart. While a MS-65 RD penny from this year is valued at $18, a 1966 MS-65 RB penny only has an estimated value of $10.

1966 BN Lincoln Memorial Penny

photo source: PCGS

The 1966 BN (Brown) Lincoln Memorial penny is, by far, the most expensive 1966 Lincoln one-cent piece. After all, one of these coins sold on eBay for $25,000 in 2022!

But, somewhat conversely, it’s also one of the least valuable 1966 pennies.

A MS-65 BN Lincoln Memorial penny has an estimated value of only $2. The only 1966 BN pennies with high values are those in perfect condition, and those are incredibly hard to come by.

Essentially, one of the best ways to get your money’s worth from these brown-hued pennies is to melt them down and sell the raw copper.

1966 SMS Lincoln Memorial Penny

photo source: PCGS

One of the primary reasons the U.S. Mint decided to forego mint marks on coins struck between 1965 and 1967 was to dissuade collectors from keeping coins out of circulation. But numismatists aren’t easily dissuaded from doing what they love (collecting coins)!

So, to appease collectors, the U.S. Mint released a special set of coins called the “special mint set” or SMS. This coin set was only released from 1965 to 1967, and it consisted of five pieces:

  • A Lincoln Memorial penny
  • A Jefferson nickel
  • A Roosevelt dime
  • A Washington quarter
  • A Kennedy half dollar

Pennies from this set weren’t exactly proof-condition, but they were far more lustrous and well-struck than regular strike, for-circulation pieces. Consequently, 1966 SMS pennies were more valuable than most other pennies when they were initially released.

Nowadays, these special one-cent coins can fetch competitive prices. For example, a cameo 1966 SMS Lincoln Memorial penny sold for $2,585 in 2014. Notably, this coin enjoyed a stellar grade of SP-67, which undoubtedly boosted its value.

1966 Lincoln Memorial Penny: Rare Errors

Minting errors can make a 1966 penny rare, valuable, and highly collectible. When searching for high-value 1966 pennies, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following mistake-ridden specimens:

  • The 1966 Double Die Obverse (DDO) Lincoln Memorial penny
  • The 1966 Double Die Reverse (DDR) Lincoln Memorial penny
  • The 1966 Die Break Lincoln Memorial penny

These 1966 penny errors all produced coins with unique characteristics and features. These qualities differentiate them from standard, regular strike 1966 pennies.

Becoming familiar with these characteristics can help you identify rare specimens more easily!

1966 Double Die Obverse (DDO) Lincoln Memorial Penny

photo source: PCGS

A 1966 double die penny is essentially a penny that has a doubling on some part of its design. This duplication is often caused when a coin isn’t perfectly aligned in the stamping or striking press.

DDO Lincoln Memorial pennies have a doubling on their front (obverse) side. The highest price paid for a 1966 DDO penny is $650 (2018 eBay auction).

1966 Double Die Reverse (DDR) Lincoln Memorial Penny

photo source: PCGS

If the back (reverse) side of a coin features a double die error, it’s called a DDR coin. 1966 DDR pennies tend to have doubling on the lettering and Lincoln Memorial device.

1966 Double Die Reverse (DDR) pennies are generally less valuable than DDO ones. In 2023, a new record was set for a BN (Brown) 1966 DDR Lincoln Memorial penny when one sold on eBay for just under $18.

1966 Die Break Lincoln Memorial Penny

A die break is another error found on some 1966 Lincoln Memorial pennies. Die break pennies are typically recognizable due to small lines that often appear like scratches, but they can also appear as unusual, raised lines along the coin’s legend (flat surface) or relief (also called device).

These unsightly striking mistakes occur when a die wears down and develops cracks.

Although these blemishes might not be the prettiest sights, they can make a coin more valuable. After all, coin inspectors often catch die break pieces before they enter production. As a result, die break coins are comparatively rare.

A 1966 Die Break Lincoln Memorial penny can sell for anywhere between $10 and $900, depending on the severity of its errors and its overall condition (aka PCGS grade).

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding 1966 Lincoln Memorial pennies. If you have a few lingering inquiries, check out these questions (and their answers) to learn more about these one-cent pieces.

Where Can I Find a 1966 Penny?

The U.S. Mint struck about 2.188 billion Lincoln Memorial pennies in 1966. Consequently, there’s an excellent chance that you can find these coins still in circulation today, If you have a large jar of loose change, you might already own one of these coins.

Of course, you can also purchase 1966 Lincoln Memorial pennies from online coin collectors and specialized retailers. Retail platforms like eBay and Etsy are excellent places to find these one-cent pieces, and Special Mint Set versions are also available from Amazon.

Which 1966 Penny Is Worth a Lot of Money?

The most valuable 1966 Lincoln Memorial pennies are those in mint or near-mint condition. You only need to look at the MS-67 RD 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny that sold for $6,463 in 2012 to discover just how much influence condition has on a penny’s value.

That said, every 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny is worth more than its original denomination of one cent. That’s because these pennies are composed of 95% copper.

Because the value of copper has risen steadily since the mid-1960s, the metal comprising a 1966 Lincoln penny is actually worth more than the cent itself. Still, the average poor-condition 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny is only worth a few cents.

In terms of which 1966 Lincoln Memorial pennies have sold for the highest prices, there are three clear winners:

  • The 1966 NGC Genuine BN Lincoln Memorial Penny (sold for $25,000 in May 2022 on eBay)
  • The 1966 MS-67 Genuine RD Lincoln Memorial Penny (sold for $6,463 in September 2012 at Heritage Auctions)
  • The 1966 SP-67 SMS CAM Lincoln Memorial Penny (sold for $2,585 in June 2014 at Heritage Auctions)

Final Thoughts

The 1966 Lincoln Memorial penny looks almost identical to the Lincoln pennies produced today. Still, they differ in a handful of respects, most notably the lack of a mint mark signifying where it was struck.

These one-cent coins are also slightly more valuable than brand-new pennies thanks to their high copper content. A 1966 Lincoln Memorial cent can be worth as little as $0.02 or as much as $25,000, depending on its condition.

Learn more about the world’s most expensive coins and experiences by checking out these related articles now!