What Are U.S. Wheat Pennies?


Quick Answer

A U.S. wheat penny is a form of currency that was used from 1909 to 1956. It differs from the pennies used in circulation today due to the two stalks of wheat that decorate the back of the penny and the fact that they were minted from mostly copper or steel, instead of today's mostly zinc pennies.

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What Are U.S. Wheat Pennies?
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Full Answer

The U.S. wheat penny is popular in coin collecting for a few reasons. It can still be found in circulation, making it easier to find than other rare coins. Another reason is that there are a few rare versions of the wheat penny that can fetch large sums of money if sold. The steel wheat penny was minted only in 1943 due to World War II, and a relatively small amount were produced, increasing the coin's rarity.

The VDB wheat penny is a penny that was specially engraved by Victor David Brenner, an American sculptor/engraver. These pennies were only produced in 1909, and not all 1909 pennies bear the initials, making them a treat for collectors to find. In 1922, the Denver Mint accidentally produced and circulated a number of pennies that did not have the mint mark on them. The Denver Mint produced over 7 million pennies in 1922, and only a small amount were accidentally released without the mint mark.

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