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Is a penny from 1957 worth anything?

This is a common question that many coin collectors and non-collectors alike wonder about when they stumble across an old penny. With thousands of pennies produced each year by the U.S. Mint, which ones are worth saving and which ones can be spent without concern? Let’s take a closer look at the 1957 penny specifically and find out if it’s worth holding onto or not.

What makes a penny valuable?

There are a few key factors that contribute to a penny’s value:

  • Age – Older pennies tend to be more scarce and in demand by collectors.
  • Rarity – Some years had fewer pennies minted, making those dates harder to find.
  • Condition – Pennies in pristine, uncirculated condition are worth more than worn circulated coins.
  • Errors/Variations – Manufacturing errors and design variations can make a penny unique and valuable to collectors.

In general, pennies minted in the early 20th century (1909-1958) are more likely to have collectible value than modern pennies. This is especially true for older pennies in very fine condition. However, there are exceptions, like the 1943 steel penny and some doubled die variations that are worth money even in circulated condition.

The 1957 Lincoln Wheat Penny

In 1957, the United States Mint produced over 1.5 billion Lincoln wheat pennies for circulation. This was one of the highest mintages for a penny in the 1950s era.

The 1957 penny features the classic wheat stalk reverse design by Victor D. Brenner. On the obverse is a profile portrait of President Abraham Lincoln. This Lincoln cent design was used from 1909 to 1958.

Here are the key details on the 1957 penny:

  • Date: 1957
  • Mint Mark: No mint mark (produced in Philadelphia)
  • Design: Lincoln Wheat Ears reverse by Brenner
  • Composition: 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc
  • Mintage: 1,510,045,000

Due to the high mintage, most 1957 Lincoln pennies are only worth face value. However, there are some 1957 pennies that are worth considerably more to collectors and dealers.

Valuable 1957 Pennies

While common 1957 cents are only face value, these varieties have significant collectible premium:

  • Proof versions – The Philadelphia Mint produced over 1.5 million proof sets in 1957. These contain mirror-like proof penny specimens that are valued around $15-25 if in like new condition.
  • Doubled Die Obverse – This rare doubled die coin has strong extra thickness on “In God We Trust” and LIBERTY. In Mint State grades it is valued over $300.
  • Errors – Any major mint errors on 1957 pennies like off-center strikes or clipped planchets make them highly collectible. Pricing depends on the severity of the error.
  • MS-65+ Graded – 1957 cents graded Mint State Red MS-65 or higher by PCGS or NGC can sell for $10-$50+ due to their pristine preservation.

So while common 1957 Lincoln cents are only face value, specially struck proof versions and high grade certified examples do carry a premium. And rare varieties like doubled dies and errors make certain 1957 pennies extremely valuable.

How Much is a 1957 Penny Worth?

Here is a quick reference table showing the approximate value of a 1957 cent based on its grade condition:

Grade Condition Average Value
Heavily Worn $0.01
Lightly Worn/Good $0.02 to $0.05
Very Fine $0.10
Extremely Fine $0.25
Uncirculated $1 to $2
Proof $15 to $25
MS-65+ Graded $10 to $50+
Doubled Die Obverse Over $300

As you can see, only 1957 pennies graded Mint State or Proof have any significant collectible premium over face value. Damaged and worn specimens are generally only worth 1 to 5 cents.

Should You Keep Your 1957 Penny?

For the majority of well circulated 1957 Lincoln cents, spending them is just fine since they have no added value. But if you happen to find a 1957 penny that is uncirculated, has mint red luster, or shows evidence of a doubled die, it may be worth keeping instead of spending.

Likewise, proof and graded examples are worth holding onto if their numismatic value is important to you as a collector. Damaged, impaired, and environmentally worn pieces have no added value and can be spent as just 1 cent.

When evaluating your 1957 pennies, look closely at the details to spot anything unusual. Check for differences in the doubling of design elements, clipped or curved planchet shapes, and very sharp strikes. If anything looks out of the ordinary, it may be worth getting a second opinion from a knowledgeable coin dealer or collector.

The Bottom Line

Most 1957 Lincoln pennies are only worth 1 cent due to their high mintage and circulation strikes. However, specially produced proof versions, authenticated doubled dies, and certified Mint State examples do carry collectible premiums ranging from $10 up to over $300 in some cases.

Beware of dealers overgrading 1957 cents in an attempt to sell them for inflated profits – third party grading from NGC or PCGS offers an independent unbiased assessment of condition and potential value.

So if you find an old 1957 penny in your pocket change that is uncirculated, double check the obverse closely for any evidence of the rare doubled die variety. Happy treasure hunting!