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How do I know if I have a Cheerios penny?

Cheerios pennies are wheat pennies that were minted in 1909-1958. They got their nickname because the wheat stalk design on the reverse side of the coin resembles a Cheerio cereal. Here are some tips to help you identify if you have a valuable Cheerios penny:

Check the dates

A true Cheerios penny will have a date ranging from 1909 to 1958. These are the years that wheat pennies were minted. If your penny has a more recent date, it is not a wheat penny.

Look at the reverse (tails) side

A Cheerios penny will have a design of two wheat stalks on the reverse side. If you don’t see the wheat design, it’s not a wheat penny. Modern pennies have Lincoln Memorial on the reverse.

Examine the material

Wheat pennies are 95% copper. This gives them a distinctive reddish-brown color. Modern pennies are made from zinc surrounded by copper which gives them a silver color. The color difference makes it easy to distinguish a wheat penny.

Check for mint marks

Some Cheerios pennies have small mint marks below the year which indicate where they were minted. Common mint marks include:

  • No mint mark – Philadelphia
  • D – Denver
  • S – San Francisco

Mint marks can affect the value of a coin. For example, a 1909-S VDB penny is highly prized by collectors.

Assess the condition

The condition and grade of a Cheerios penny plays a big role in its value. Here are some things to look for:

  • Wear – Heavy wear reduces value. Look for worn details.
  • Marks – Nicks, scratches and oxidation lower the grade.
  • Luster – Original mint luster increases value for uncirculated coins.

Use a coin grading guide to properly assess condition. Grading companies like PCGS or NGC can assign an official grade.

Check for key dates and varieties

Some Cheerios pennies are more valuable based on low mintage dates or special varieties. Key dates include:

  • 1909-S VDB – Low relief Lincoln bust, designer initials on reverse
  • 1909-S – First year San Francisco issue, scarcer date
  • 1914-D – Very low mintage
  • 1931-S – Lowest mintage wheat penny
  • 1955 Double Die Obverse – Strong doubling of date and lettering

Scarce varieties like doubled dies and overdates command huge premiums.

Get it professionally appraised

For very valuable specimens, consider having your coin professionally appraised. Reputable coin dealers or third-party grading services can determine accurate market values for rare Cheerios pennies.

Check completed eBay sales

Search eBay for your specific date, mint mark and condition to see actual selling prices. Focus on completed/sold listings for an accurate value gauge.


With a little detective work, you can identify if you have a valuable vintage Cheerios penny. Look for key features like wheat reverse, copper color, mint marks and condition. Rare dates in top grades can be worth thousands. An expert appraisal is recommended for ultra-rare specimens.