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How to Tell if you have a Rare 1964 Penny (2021 Easy Guide)

04/12/2021 • reading-time 6-8'

1964 Penny Value Estimated Value of 1964 Penny is:


1964 Penny worth
1964 Penny BN (brown) Philadelphia
1964 Penny Penny RB (red and brown) Philadelphia
1964 Penny RD (red) Philadelphia
1964 Penny Penny RB (red and brown) Denver (D)
1964 Penny RD (red) Denver (D)

Pennies are probably the most collected American coins in the world. Due to their common circulation (because of their low value) they are usually found quite worn, so conservation is one of the most important factors for their high price.

Want to know if your coin have a valuable patina? Just keep reading!

Most of the time you can get it very cheap, however, there are extraordinary cases like, for example, this penny from 1964, variety 1C MS67 RD, auctioned for $7,931.25 by Heritage Auctions (see here).

Here you will learn:

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  • What are the most valuable 1964 pennies?
  • What are the factors that make your price skyrocket?
  • How to recognize the most sought-after patinas
  • What do the letters BN, RB, and RD stand for?

If we talk about the 1964 Penny Lincoln Cent, the patina is a factor of great importance. There are also certain errors that can greatly increase their value, mainly due to their scarcity and high demand by collectors of American coins.

Read on to learn more…

A little history about the 1964 Penny

In 1959 the Lincoln cents changed their familiar Wheat Reverse to a design commemorating the Lincoln Memorial.

The material of our penny in question consists of 95% copper and 5% Zinc, weighing a total of 3.11 grams for its 19 millimeters in diameter.

1964 is a year noted for its poor penny mintages, which is why certain errors stand out from other years.

Although they are very common in medium quality and practically worthless as we have seen in the table, excellent quality drives up the price.

How To Identify A 1964 Penny

They were minted in two mints (factories) since San Francisco stopped manufacturing these cents in 1955:

  • Philadelphia: no mint mark on the coin, 2,648,575,000 1964 pennies were struck.
  • Denver: with mintmark “D”, a total of 3,799,071,500 coins were minted.

Cameo type editions, SMS and D variants

There are also proof versions, of which almost 4 million were minted, but the rarest of this year’s pennies are undoubtedly the 1964 SMS penny as we will see below.

The importance of patina on a 1964 Penny

The 1964 Penny is very abundant, with a mintage of over 6.4 billion coins. In addition, there are two mints for their manufacture, a typical factor that distinguishes American coins in price, so one must look at other differences to determine a higher or lower value.

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The main factor to consider is the quality, as in any other coin, as we will see later, but now let’s talk about the patina.

The patina is the result of the oxidation of the metal by contact with air and other elements that causes some or other tones or colors.

An original patina, generated by the years of “life” of the coin is highly valued by collectors, so you should never clean a coin without consulting an expert since in most cases you will greatly diminish its value.

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Types of 1964 Penny patina

In the 1964 Penny, as in the rest of the modern Lincoln Cent up to 1982, due to its high copper content (95%), there are three different patinas, mostly. These are collected by three different abbreviations, BN, RB, and RD. Each one is more complex to find than the previous one, which is why the price increases due to the difficulty.

  • BN: This patina is brown, and is the most common of the three, visually it is the one that looks the most aged and, in fact, is the color that copper coins normally take on over time. You can check your current pennies and see how many have this dark, yet attractive color.
valuable 1964 penny

 In some specimens with this patina that have not been circulated very often, greenish or bluish colors can be seen, normal in this metal, which makes it much more striking.

  • RB: This is the abbreviation for Red and Brown, i.e., as the previous patina, it is a brown specimen, but retains the typical reddish tones of a newly minted copper coin.
1964 d penny

It is the result of better environmental conservation, or at least with less exposure to humidity and oxygen than the previous one, regardless of whether a BN has hardly been circulated, but has been stored in a humid place.

This makes it somewhat rarer than the previous one and therefore costs a little more money.

  • RD: It is the red patina that copper coins have when they are newly minted, the rarity of this patina is the difficulty for a coin to be preserved with that tone for so many years.
1964 penny value d

It is the most expensive patina of the three, being the most appreciated by collectors.

With coins as common as these, priority is given to the most special patinas, so a BN or RB may be undervalued, while an RD makes the coin more expensive because it is so rare in common coins.

To preserve the actual patina of our coins, it is important to keep them in a stable and controlled place. That is why certified capsules are a wonderful option both for this and for knowing the grade as we will see below.

How do I know the quality of my 1964 Penny?

The higher the grade, the higher the price increases exponentially, since it is a factor of great importance, especially in coins that tend to circulate a lot, as in the case of cents.

To know the state of conservation of the coin we own or want to buy we need to have an expert eye that we can hardly acquire without time or experience. That is why it is not a bad idea to resort to TPG (Third Party Grading Service). These are grading companies dedicated to evaluate and grade our coins according to their condition. In addition, they certify the authenticity and encapsulate the coin for security purposes, both for its preservation and to facilitate its sale.

Valuable errors and variants in the 1964 Lincoln Cent

As we have already said, the 1964 Penny is quite common in general, but certain exceptions are very valuable, and it is worth knowing at least some of them in case we come across similar specimens.

#1 1964 Penny SMS 1C

1964 lincoln penny-SMS
Heritage Auctions

These coins are still a mystery today. They are believed to have been prototypes struck in Philadelphia or San Francisco for the SMS (special mint set) minted between 1965 and 1967. Between 20 and 50 of these coins are believed to exist and experimental markings can be seen on the 1964 Penny itself.

We can take as a reference of its value this 1964 1C SMS SP67 RD which sold for $15,600 in 2019 by HeritageAuctions.

#2 1964 Penny 1C Lincoln Cent Triple Saddle Strike

In this 1964 penny, we can appreciate a multiple minting error. This consists of striking the original copper more than once. Specifically, there are 3 “Lincolns” on the same penny!

It was auctioned by Heritage Auctions in 2020 for a price of $1,440, being MS64 RB. See here.

1964 penny worth-Triple
Heritage Auctions

#3 1964 Penny-D 1C Lincoln Cent Coined on 1963-D Lincoln

This 1964 Denver Penny was minted over another one of the same mint from the previous year, 1963. This error is perfectly visible as we can see the Lincoln memorial behind the bust of the president, and on the reverse, we also see deformities typical of one mintage over another.

Heritage Auctions sold this MS64 BN copy for $4,312.50 in 2009 – not bad for a penny!

964 penny no mint mark
Heritage Auctions

Final thoughts

We have seen that 1964 is a curious year for Penny collecting. Although most of them will not have great value, checking your pockets can make you a lot of money if you find some rarities like the ones seen here.

Usually, for a few dollars, you can also get some beautiful patina, as well as a quality that will surprise your collector friends and family.  

This is a great option for getting started in a Lincoln Cent collection or, in general, U.S. coin collection, as pennies are the most collected U.S. coin in the world.