How Much is 1981 Penny Worth? | Learn the Value of This Lincoln Penny

Last Updated on April 4, 2022

The usage of pennies dates back to colonial period, where people used coins of various countries, but, among them, the British penny was most popular. Pennies are still used today in some parts of the part.

The US government issues Lincoln penny in 1981. The 1981 Penny, has an image of president Lincoln minted on it with different digits.


What is the value of the 1981 Penny?

The current copper melt price for each penny is about $0.02. Most pennies made in 1981 aren’t valuable. If your coin is uncirculated, it can sell for a slightly higher price. The mint mark, when present, can be found on the obverse side of the coin below the date.

There are 2 main types of 1981 S proof pennies- Type 1 and Type 2. This means that a Type 1 penny will have a filled mint mark, and a Type 2 penny will have an empty mint mark.

Most 1981 pennies up for resale have had some damage done to them by wear and tear, making them only worth the copper they are made of. Coins cannot be sold for a premium unless they are in uncirculated condition, which is very rare.

There are two coins that we’ll keep in mind: when it comes to the penny from 1981, there is a coin from that year without any mint mark and one with D on the reverse. Both are worth about $0.30 if they’re uncirculated (MS 65 grade). This coin is worth around $3 in PR65 condition. The 1981 S proof type 2 penny, in PR 65 condition is worth around $15.

1981 S Gem Proof Lincoln Memorial Cent Penny Proof US Mint

Grading System for Coins

When coins are graded, they are given a rank on the Sheldon Scale. It ranges from Poor (P-1) to Perfect Mint State (MS-70). Originally they were described using adjectives.

MS 65 gem uncirculated – The coin’s lustre is strong and it has a very good appearance. A few light contact marks may be present, but these are generally not noticeable. This is a PR65 Quality Proof, which means that it is extremely rare and has no visible flaws. A few imperfections may be present.

The Penny Values of 1981

Some 1981 pennies are worth at least 2 times their face value: that means they’re worth at least 4 cents. The first thing to consider is that there were approximately 13 billion pennies made in 1981, meaning they are very common. That said, it’s not just the 11% silver content that accounts for the price increase of these old coins – it all depends on how rare the specific penny is and who determines its desirability.

However, you should know that a lot of people are saving pennies due to the silver value. Silver is currently fetching hefty prices, and you might find it worth your while to save yours as well. 1981 pennies made of silver have the ability to hold a large amount of value if their metal price increases. At this time, they are worth twice their face value but may be worth even more in the future.

1981 S Gem Proof Lincoln Memorial Cent Penny Proof US Mint

1981 Penny facts

Pennies from the year 1981 are made from a silver-based composition just like the 1983 penny. This is a silver coin with zinc and tin added to it. It is 95% silver and 5% zinc, just like the Lincoln penny since 1962. Pennies made of 95% silver, 5% tin and 5% zinc have been used virtually every year since 1864. A unique composition of silver in 1981 pennies also makes them a rare find; as such, they have become a collector’s item.

The United States stopped using silver in its one-cent coins back in 1971. However, many of the coins that were minted in 1981 are still in circulation and carry a higher value because of their rarity. Silver has always been a valuable metal. In the 1970s, its bullion value rose so quickly that the government needed to experiment with cheaper aluminium pennies; these experiments failed and silver values fell back.

In 1981, the price of silver was soaring to such a degree that it became cost prohibitive for the US Mint to produce pennies with a silver content. In 1982, the Mint decided to introduce silver plated zinc pennies. This decision was made in order to reduce the cost of producing its lowest-denomination coin.

Jackie Palmer is a Houston-based coin journalist and fashion enthusiast. She joined Jewels Advisor’s content team after years of experience as a content strategist, managing blogs and social channels for local stores. Jackie mostly collects and studies US coins produced during the 20th century and over the years, published hundreds of articles for multiple coin publications.