What’s a penny worth? Just a single cent, right?
If that’s what you think, you’ll be surprised by what you are about to discover. While it’s true that many pennies are worth just a cent, the 1992 penny could carry a lot more value.
The highest sale of a 1992 penny currently stands at $25,850, and you could sell it for more in the future. What’s more interesting are some of the features of value on this penny: the minting errors!
Under normal circumstances, errors yield severe sanctions. But, in the numismatic world of coins, errors are worth a good buck. So, is a 1992 penny worth anything?
That’s what you are about to find out. We tell you about the mint marks and errors that give value to the 1992 penny, particularly those that make the 1992 Close AM penny a valuable gem among coin collectors. Let’s get down to business!
Background of the 1992 Penny
In 1909, America celebrated 100 years since the birth of the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. That occasion also came with a new design for the penny.
Until then, pennies bore imaginary images on the obverse, including the liberty woman with elegant-flowing hair, the flying eagle, and the head of an imaginary Indian chief in that order.
Before 1909, the reverse of the pennies bore images like a wreath. The coins were made of pure copper and were larger in size than those we see today.
The 1909 Lincoln penny featured two significant changes:
- For the first time in history, American Mints produced pennies with the authentic human image of Lincon on the obverse. Two bunches of wheat were on the reverse. The designer, Victor David Brenner, depicted America’s love for a man who had tirelessly fought to end slavery, as well as President Theodore Roosevelt’s desire to put a more appealing coin in circulation.
- The penny composition was copper-plated zinc: 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper. At the time, America needed most of her copper for war weapons.
Lincon’s image has stayed on the penny since then. However, in 1959, Frank Gasparro replaced the wheat on the reverse with Lincoln’s memorial. He also included Lincoln’s image in the monument to commemorate 150 years since the former president’s birth.
Gasparro’s design would characterize the penny’s reverse until 2008, which explains its presence on our coin of interest; the 1992 memorial penny. Of course, the penny bore several other features of interest in its design.
1992 Memorial Penny Design
1992 Penny Specifications:
- Metal: Zinc – 97.5%, Copper – 2.5%
- Shape: Round
- Weight: 2.5g
- Diameter: 19.5mm (0.75″)
- Thickness: 1.52mm
- Edge: Plain (no reeds)
Knowing the features on both the obverse and the reverse sides of the 1992 penny will help understand better the penny’s exceptional value later.
1992 Penny Obverse Features
On an uncirculated 1992 memorial penny or a circulated one in good condition, you easily notice the five features engraved on the obverse side.
Lincoln’s 1909 image by Brenner takes center stage. At the top of his head is the inscription, “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
The word “LIBERTY” is engraved on the left, behind Lincoln’s image. The minting year appears on the right in front of the image, and so does the initial letter of the name of the mint location when indicated.
1992 Penny Reverse Features
Gasparro duplicated the theme of the obverse on the reverse side of the 1992 penny by designing the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. He placed a tiny image of the former American President inside the memorial.
Above the memorial, you also see clearly the inscription, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The Motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is inside the arc that the country name creates over the memorial.
The engraving, “ONE CENT,” appears at the bottom of the coin, and the tiny initials of the designer, FG, can be noticed on the right side at the foot of the monument.
What Gives the 1992 Penny Value?
At face value, the 1992 penny is worth just a cent, the equivalence of $0.01. So, exactly why is the 1992 penny so valuable among coin collectors?
Coin collectors will pay a good buck for the 1992 penny depending on these three value features:
- The coin’s grading
- The mint location (mint mark)
- Printing errors
Before going into details about the three features, this 1992 penny value chart will give you an idea of how coin grading (condition), mint location (mint mark), and printing errors (Wide AM or Close AM) can change the value of a 1992 penny.
1992 Penny Value Chart:
(MS60 Wide AM)
(MS65 Close AM)
|1992 ‘No Mint Mark’ Penny||$0.34||$11,359||–|
|1992 ‘D’ Penny||$0.34||$11,359||–|
|1992 ‘S’ Penny||–||–||$5.84|
As we explain later, a combination of these factors can make a 1992 penny value rise.
Coin grading is a common method for determining the value of a penny. Coins are generally graded by:
- strike method
- physical condition in relation to circulation and wear
- color codes
When graded by the strike method a penny will have one of these three codes prefixing its numeric grade:
- MS – Or Mint State, which grades coins struck in a uniform format for circulation purposes. MS qualifies grades 60-70 in the coin appearance grading.
- PF (PR)– Or Proof Coin, which qualifies coins specifically struck for collectors and with superior quality over the MS coins. The PF grades also run from 60-70.
- SP – Or Specimen, denoting a hybrid strike lower in quality than the Proofs but superior to the MS coins struck for circulation.
Grading by the rate of circulation and wear uses numeric grades from 1-70. But the most common numbers in coin grading are 60-70 for uncirculated coins and 50-59 for Almost Uncirculated (AU) coins with minimal to average wear.
Coin graders use color codes to rate coins as Red (RD), Red Brown (RB), or Brown (BN).
At the time of this write-up, the US Coin Book estimates the value of a regular 1992 penny with an MS65 grading to be around $0.34. The PR65 coin has a higher value of $5.84.
However, if you factor in other value factors, the penny value can be appreciated significantly.
Although the US has several mint locations that make or store money and valuable coins, the 1992 memorial coin was made in three mint locations: Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S).
The mint mark below the year on the obverse side of the coin shows the mint location. Going by the mint location, the memorial penny can be:
- 1992 penny with no mint mark (P penny) – One of the 4,648,905,000 pennies struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
- 1992 D penny – One of the 4,448,673,300 struck at the Denver Mint.
- 1992 S penny – One of the 4,176,560 proof pennies struck at the San Francisco Mint.
The mint mark on the penny (or its absence) can determine the 1992 penny value and make it appreciated.
For example, the U.S. Coins Guide proposes that a regular, circulated 1992 memorial penny is worth its face value, irrespective of the mint location.
However, an uncirculated 1992 penny value is approximately $0.1-$0.25. An uncirculated 1992 D penny value ranges between $0.1 and $0.25, while the uncirculated 1992 S penny value is around $2 or more.
Note that the value of the penny can also vary with the pricing source. For example, Greysheet lists the value range of both the MS 1992 D penny and the MS 1992 (no mint mark) penny at $5.40.
Still, the memorial penny will enormously appreciate in value if the third value feature is present: the printing errors.
1992 Penny Errors
Mint errors can significantly raise the value of a 1992 penny. The 1992 penny errors are variations in the presentation of the regular features or the appearance of unintended features.
In the world of coin collection, error features increase the value of a penny because they make it different from the rest and, therefore, rare.
1992 Close AM Penny
The most valuable 1992 penny mint error is a reduced distance between the A and the M in the word AMERICA. You can spot this error on the coin’s reverse.
This error occurred because a coin die intended for use on the 1993 penny in the following year was used on some 1992 pennies.
Coin collectors use this error to differentiate between:
- A 1992 Wide AM penny / a 1992 D Wide AM penny, and
- A 1992 Close AM penny / a 1992 D close AM penny
The majority of the 1992 pennies are Wide AM, meaning the space between the A and M in AMERICA is pretty noticeable.
The few Close AM pennies have a reduced distance between the A and the M, making the two letters appear as though they are touching.
Also, the gap Between the designer’s initials, FG, and the Lincoln Monument is different. On the Close AM variety, the gap between the initials and the monument is noticeable. Instead, the initials are much closer to the monument on the Wide AM variety.
This rarity makes the 1992 close AM coins widely sought after, which also accounts for their value inflation.
The Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS) has established that there are more 1992 D Close AM than 1992 Close AM coins. By 2021, the company had graded around 20 1992 Close AM pennies and 75 1992-D Close AM pennies in all coin grades and color codes.
For any coin collector, there’s an ocean of difference between a 1992 penny Wide AM value/1992 D penny Wide AM value and a 1992 penny Close AM value/1992 D penny Close AM value.
1992 Close AM Penny Value vs. 1992 D Close AM Value
We indicated earlier that a 1992 Wide AM penny goes for face value in a circulated form. In the uncirculated state, the 1992 penny Wide AM value or 1992 D penny Wide AM value can range from $0.1-$0.25.
The story is totally different for the 1992 penny Close AM and 1992 D penny Close AM. Both are worth a good buck.
The US Coins Guide estimates a 1992 Close AM penny value and a 1992 D Close AM penny value to be approximately $11,359 on average.
However, a few of the 1992 Close AM pennies have already sold for a lot more than that.
In 2017, a 1992 Close AM penny sold for $25,850 at the Heritage Auctions. The penny had an MS67RD grading and is, so far, the highest-selling 1992 Close AM penny.
Five years earlier, in 2012, at the Heritage Auctions, a 1992 D penny Close AM with an MS64RB grading sold for $20,700.
Several other 1992 Close AM and 1992 D Close AM pennies have sold for five and four-figure amounts. Here are some examples, including the highest-selling pennies for both the “D” and “P” (no mint mark) varieties. The entries are ordered by the highest price.
|Sale Year||Mint Mark||Coin Grading||Sale Price||Sale Location|
|2017||P||MS67RD||$25, 850||Heritage Auctions|
|2012||D||MS69RD||$5,175||Stack’s Bowers Galleries|
|2018||P||MS63RB||$5,040||Stack’s Bowers Galleries|
|2013||D||MS64RD||$3,818||Stack’s Bowers Galleries|
Other errors that can increase a 1992 penny value, though not as much as the Close AM error, include:
- Struck-through retained debris – This error occurs when a foreign material comes between the coin-making metal disk and the die. The particle stays on the coin, hindering the visibility of the regular feature at that spot on the coin.
- Weak-strike error – This error presents in a faintly struck coin with incomplete or faintly appearing details in the design.
- Double-die cracks – These cracks appear on a coin following repeated strikes. In 2021, an MS64RD 1992-D penny with a double struck, 90% off center sold for $74.
It’s worth repeating that a 1992 penny value is higher if it has a Close AM error. That also means you could be carrying around a 5-figure coin in loose change. But you’ll only claim the prize if you can correctly identify the rare 1992 Close AM or 1992 D Close AM penny.
How to ID the Rare 1992 Penny with Close AM
This video by Heritage Auctions gives you a quick demonstration of how to ID the Rare 1992 Penny with Close AM:
You can use different ways to authenticate coins. For example, your 97.5% zinc & 2.5% copper 1992 penny should not stick to a magnet. If that isn’t the case, your coin is fake.
If you establish that you have an authentic 1992 penny, you can examine if it is the rare 1992 Close AM penny.
Here’s how to ID a 1992 Close AM penny:
- Turn your penny to the reverse side. The inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is engraved on this side.
- Check the distance between the A and M in the word AMERICA. If the two letters are almost touching, your penny is an AM Close variety and is worth a good buck. If the letters are apart, your penny is a Wide AM variety and is worth, well… just a cent!
What’s in a penny? Generally, just a cent.
However, your penny can be worth thousands of dollars if it has features of interest for coin collectors.
For the 1992 penny, one whose A and M in the word AMERICA are almost touching can earn you a fortune. This printing error characterizes Close AM variety.
You’ll need to physically examine your coin to ensure it fits the Close AM description. If it does, you might be singing all the way to the back soon. Value that loose change!