The 1972 Penny: The Ultimate Guide to Values, Varieties, and Rare Errors

The 1972 Lincoln Memorial penny is a coin that deserves a spot in every collection. Not only is it a classic one-cent piece with the iconic wheat-ear design, but some varieties and errors make certain 1972 pennies extremely valuable. In fact, the most coveted 1972 doubled die penny sold for a whopping $14,400!

Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting your coin search, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the 1972 penny value. We‘ll dive into the coin‘s history, break down each variety and error, look at real auction data, and give you tips to spot that rare 1972 penny in your pocket change.

Let‘s get started on this valuable journey through the 1972 penny!

History and Overview of the 1972 Penny

First, a little background. The 1972 penny is part of the long-running Lincoln Wheat Cent series that began in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln‘s birth. Victor David Brenner designed the original coin with Lincoln‘s portrait on the obverse (heads side) and two wheat ears on the reverse (tails side).

In 1959, the reverse design changed to feature the Lincoln Memorial building in honor of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln‘s birth. Frank Gasparro created this new reverse design.

So, 1972 pennies have the Lincoln Memorial reverse along with the iconic Lincoln obverse that has remained largely unchanged for over 100 years. One interesting fact – if you look closely, you can see the statue of Lincoln between the memorial‘s columns, meaning Lincoln actually appears on both sides!

Other key features of the 1972 penny include:

  • Composition: 95% copper with the rest made up of zinc and tin
  • Weight: 3.11 grams
  • Diameter: 19.05 mm
  • Edge: Plain

With the key details covered, let‘s look at how many 1972 pennies were made and the different varieties to know.

1972 Penny Mintage and Varieties

In 1972, the U.S. Mint produced Lincoln pennies at three mints: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D mint mark), and San Francisco (S mint mark). Here are the total mintages for each variety:

  • 1972 (P) Penny – 2,933,255,000 minted
  • 1972-D Penny – 2,665,071,440 minted
  • 1972-S Penny – 376,939,108 minted
  • 1972-S Proof Penny – 3,260,996 minted

As you can see, over 5 billion pennies were made in 1972, so they are by no means rare in terms of total quantity. However, a few varieties and errors make some 1972 pennies very scarce and collectible.

The most well-known is the 1972 doubled die obverse (DDO) penny. This error occurred when the obverse die was misaligned during hubbing, resulting in a clear doubling of lettering and details, especially in the date, lettering, and Lincoln‘s eye.

Other errors and varieties to look for include:

  • 1972 Doubled Die Reverse (DDR)
  • 1972 Repunched Mint Mark (RPM)
  • 1972 Die Clash
  • 1972 Off-Center
  • 1972 BIE Error (vertical die gouge between B and E of LIBERTY)

With so many possibilities, let‘s see what they‘re worth!

1972 Penny Values

First, an important note on coin conditions. A coin‘s grade is critical in determining its value. Grades range from Poor (heavily worn) up to Mint State or MS+ (uncirculated). For most 1972 pennies, anything less than MS60 is only worth face value.

Also, copper coins are graded with a color designation:

  • BN = Brown
  • RB = Red-Brown
  • RD = Red

A bright red penny is more valuable than a darker brown one. Now, let‘s break down values for each major variety.

1972 No Mint Mark Penny Value

In MS60-62, a 1972 penny with no mint mark is worth $0.50 to $1. At MS63, the value goes up to $2 and maxes out at $50 in MS67 red condition.

1972-D Penny Value

Values for the 1972-D penny are similar to the Philadelphia version. MS63 pennies go for around $3, while a top-grade MS67 red could bring $200 or more.

1972-S Penny Value

As the lowest mintage of the three, a 1972-S penny is worth marginally more than P and D coins. In MS63, expect $7-10. The best MS67 red examples routinely sell for $200-350.

1972-S Proof Penny Value

The 1972-S pennies were struck as proofs at the San Francisco Mint. Values range from $0.75 in PR60 to $200+ in PR70 DCAM (deep cameo).

1972 Doubled Die and Other Error Values

Here‘s where values can skyrocket. The 1972 DDO is easily the most valuable variety:
– MS60 BN – $125
– MS63 BN – $250
– MS63 RB – $500
– MS63 RD – $1,000
– MS65 RD – $4,000+

Other errors like DDRs, off-centers, BIEs, etc. can bring $20 to $100+ depending on the magnitude of the error and condition.

Keep in mind, these are approximate retail values. Actual prices vary depending on the coin market and can go much higher for top-end examples, as you‘ll see next.

1972 Penny Auction Records

What are the most valuable 1972 pennies ever? Here are a few headliners:

  • A 1972 DDO graded MS67+ RD by PCGS sold for $14,400 in 2019. It‘s one of just two known in this supreme grade.

  • In 2022, an MS67 RD 1972 DDO sold for $7,200. Several other gems regularly bring $2,000-5,000.

  • The finest regular 1972 (P) penny, graded MS68 RD by PCGS, sold for $5,040 in 2019.

  • A 1972-S Proof in PCGS PR69 DCAM commanded $1,955 in 2007.

  • 1972-D pennies are scarce in high grade. An MS67+ RD sold for $2,400 in 2010.

As you can see, finest known examples, especially the revered 1972 DDO, can deliver jaw-dropping prices! But how do you know if your 1972 penny has this kind of value? Let‘s find out.

How to Find the Value of Your 1972 Penny

If you have some 1972 pennies rattling around, take these steps to see if you might have a valuable error or high-grade example.

  1. Determine the mint mark. It will be under the date as either "D" or "S" for Denver or San Francisco. No letter means it‘s a Philadelphia penny.

  2. Examine the date, lettering, and details under magnification. Look for doubling, repunching, odd strike issues, etc. The 1972 DDO will have clear doubling in LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST.

  3. Check the color and surfaces. Does the penny still have original bright red luster or is it more brown/dark? Avoid cleaning as it ruins the coin‘s value.

  4. If your coin is uncirculated with no wear and has an error or variety, consider having it professionally graded by PCGS or NGC. They will authenticate, grade, and encapsulate the coin in a protective holder.

  5. Consult the PCGS CoinFacts website for detailed images and info on each variety. You can also get a rough idea of values based on their price guide.

  6. For a precise value of your coin, compare it to recent auction prices. Heritage Auctions and eBay sold listings can give you real market data to work with.

Of course, if all this seems overwhelming, you can always take your 1972 pennies to a reputable dealer or send them to a grading service for their opinion. Getting an expert‘s take is never a bad idea, especially when big money could be on the line!

Tips for Collecting the 1972 Penny

Building a collection of 1972 pennies can be a fun pursuit. You have several options, from a simple mint set to a advanced registry set of finest knowns. Here are some tips:

  • Always buy the best condition you can afford. High-grade gems have much more value and potential than low-end coins.

  • Focus on rarer varieties like the 1972-S, DDO, and other notable errors. These will be key to a meaningful set.

  • If you‘re collecting circulation strikes, look for full original red color. Avoid spots, stains, or other issues.

  • Store your coins properly to maintain condition. Use inert flips, 2x2s, or holders. Avoid PVC, sulfur, and other contaminants.

  • Consider specialty albums or custom registry sets to organize and display your 1972 pennies.

  • Educate yourself on the series. Read books, websites, and price guides to stay informed on the market.

  • Connect with other Lincoln cent collectors through clubs, forums, and events to share knowledge and enthusiasm.

Whether you‘re starting a basic collection or aiming for the finest registry set, the 1972 penny offers some great opportunities. But, there‘s one coin that stands above all.

Why the 1972 DDO is King

Quite simply, the 1972 doubled die obverse is the key to the series. Its dramatic doubling, scarce population, and strong demand from collectors puts it in a class of its own.

Many consider it one of the most significant Lincoln cent varieties along with the 1955 and 1969-S DDOs. When one appears at auction, fierce bidding ensues and records often fall.

PCGS estimates just 250-500 exist in all grades combined. Most are circulated or low mint state. Gems are exceedingly rare, with only a couple known in grades above MS66 RD.

Owning a choice red gem 1972 DDO is a cornerstone achievement for a Lincoln cent collector. It‘s the ultimate prize and commands the ultimate prices.

The Last Cent

The 1972 Lincoln Memorial cent has something for everyone. Whether you‘re pulling penny rolls searching for errors, completing a mint set, or chasing the elusive high-grade doubled die, it‘s a series loaded with possibilities.

By understanding the coin‘s history, varieties, values, and top examples, you‘re now ready to appreciate the 1972 penny on a deeper level. Hopefully this guide has shown you just how valuable and important this seemingly common cent can be.

So check your change, dive in, and start the hunt for your own valuable 1972 penny. And if you find that pristine 1972 DDO, come back and let us know! After all, we‘re all here for the love of Lincoln cents.

Happy collecting!

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