You found a 1982 penny and you want to know how much is it worth?
Awesome… you’ve landed on the right spot.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this coin and how you can estimate its value to get a very good deal.
What is the value of your 1982 pennies?
Every penny should be assessed individually by a coin expert. He will tell you how much money you can get for it.
In this article, I’ll show you how you can estimate the worth of your 1982 penny by yourself.
This is very important because…
Coin grading isn’t for free and it takes some time. You need to send your penny to a dealer, a collector or a coin company for appraisal.
And you don’t have time nor money to waste on a coin that turned out to be worthless. You’ll know whether it is worthwhile to send the coin to a grading company right off the bat.
Some dealers are good others are not, just like any other business. You don’t want to trust anybody blindly and sell your valuable coin for cheap.
The dealer will never try to deceive you if he sees that you know how to assess the value of your 1982 penny and that you know the expert’s terminology well.
Knowledge is a powerful tool that will help to get a good deal for your penny.
1982 penny is a special coin because some changes were made midyear leading to different varieties. One of them is very rare and can be sold for as high as 19,000 $!
If the following paragraphs, I’ll show how you can distinguish between the varieties and hunt the money-making good stuff.
This knowledge will strengthen your coin-checking skills so that you can spot the valuable pennies instinctively.
The minor difference can skyrocket your penny’s value. So you need to focus.
Large Date vs Small Date
There are two variants the 1982 penny: the large date and the small date. I will show how to distinguish between them.
On the right side of the penny’s obverse (head), you’ll find 1982, the date when the coin was struck.
The most obvious difference between the two variants is the font size. The large date’s font is thicker than the small date.
You should also focus on both sides of the line heading to the base of the “2”.
On the small date, this line is curved. On the large date, it is a straight thick line.
You also notice that the intersection between this line and the base of the “2” is sharp for the small date whereas this intersection is rounded for the large one.
The differences in the “2” are the easiest ones to spot. So start by examining this part.
There are other differences as well. But they are not easy to spot for beginners. The bottom of the “8” on the large one is lower than that of the small date variety.
Copper vs Zinc
The pennies prior to 1982 were made from 95% copper and the rest is zinc. The rising prices of copper made the US mint decide to change the composition of the penny.
The change was in the middle of the year. This is why you can find 1982 copper pennies and 1982 zinc pennies.
The latter is made of 97.5% zinc and it is coated with copper. It is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two “visually”.
So how can you tell the difference?
The answer is simple. Weigh them.
The copper 1982 penny weighs 3.11 grams and the weight of the zinc one is 2.5 grams.
To detect this minor difference you need a scale that is sensitive enough to weigh one tenth of a gram (0.1 gram).
Some recommend distinguishing between the two using the sound they make when you drop them on a countertop.
The copper 1982 penny will make a high-pitched ringing sound while the zinc has a clunk sound.
I don’t recommend that because it is not as reliable as using a scale.
Second and most importantly, you can damage the coin by dropping them on a solid surface. This will reduce their value.
Just use a scale sensitive enough to detect 0.1 grams. They are super cheap. (At the end of the article, I will show you how to make a simple DIY balance to weigh the pennies)
Knowing which mint issued the coin is straightforward. If there is a “D” under the date then it was struck in Denver. If the no mintmark, the 1982 penny comes from Philadelphia.
That is it!
After you learned what differentiates the 1982 pennies from each other (small date & large date, zinc vs copper and mint), you can make all possible combinations to get varieties set of this coin.
I listed them here for you
- 1982 copper large date
- 1982 copper small date
- 1982 zinc large date
- 1982 zinc small date
- 1982 D zinc large date
- 1982 D zinc small date
- 1982 D copper large date
- 1982 D copper small date
The last variety is very rare. Actually, there are only two of them. The first was discovered in November 2016 in a normal bag of pennies that was obtained from a bank.
For someone who doesn’t know the varieties, this is nothing more than a worthless penny.
But the expert made thousands of dollars from this discovery because he learned how to distinguish between the different varieties and how rare each one of them is.
You can do the same if you digest the info that I shared with you and you examine every 1982 penny that you find.
Before this date, coin collectors thought there were only 7 varieties. Though theoretically there should be eight.
The 1982 D copper small date was sold for more than 18,000 $! This should make the Minnesota collector Paul Malone who found it more than happy.
The second 1982 D copper small date was sold for 10,000 $!
This variant is rare. If you find you one, you’ve found a unicorn. You can sell it for a lot of money.
I think it’s time to check your pocket change!
The value of other varieties is nothing more than their face value. However, they can be sold for a couple hundreds of dollars if they have a high grade or if they rare have errors.
What are the grades and errors you may ask?
This what we will discover in the next two paragraphs.
Usually, irregularities make things less worthy. For coins, this is not the case.
Errors can make them, paradoxically more precious. These errors happen during the minting process.
Why errors make them more precious?
Simply because they make the pennies rare. Rarity means more money.
If the error is relatively common, it won’t increase the value of your penny that much.
Coins errors is a long subject. Listing the commons ones needs a separate article. Here is an article that will give an idea about them.
Learning how to spot all of them also needs a separate article and you need to practice for a long time in order to become an expert in this field.
Spotting errors isn’t easy, in many cases it is not possible with the naked eye. You need a microscope or at least a magnifying glass and a good desk lamp.
In this paragraph, I’ll show the basics. You’ll learn how to spot errors even if you don’t have expensive tools and experience.
Finding coins with rare errors will bring you a lot of money.
So here are the things that you should look for in your 1982 pennies and that will increase its value dramatically.
1982 copper large date: remember since there is no mint mark the penny was struck in Philadelphia.
Focus on the famous expression “In God we trust”. If there’s a doubling on the right, this penny is worth a couple hundred dollars depending on the grade. This error is called the 1982 double die obverse.
Double die means that the words are struck twice on the same spot and they are overlapped.
In many cases, the doubling isn’t very clear. You need a microscope to see it.
1982 zinc small date: like the previous one, there is no Denver mintmark. Examine the penny’s reverse (backside) and look for a double die.
In this type of error, the majority of the letters are doubled. The doubling will be clearly visible on the motto “E Pluribus Unum”.
It is called the double die reverse error and it is very rare. This is why it is worth thousands of dollars.
Again, rarity by itself isn’t enough to value the penny. The grade should be taken into account. Therefore, you can make somewhere between 500 and 3000 $ for this penny.
1982 D large date: Focus on Lincoln ear lobe. If you find a slight doubling, then this an error.
On the reverse, you should find a small die chip on the column number 10 of the memorial building.
This error isn’t easy to spot. It is called the double die obverse penny double ear (for obvious reasons).
You can sell for somewhere between 10 and 150 $ depending on the grade of the coin. This is not a fortune. But it is a very good value for just a penny
The coin value depends on its grade. The higher the grade the more expensive the coin is.
For example, a 1982-penny D zinc large date with a high grade can be sold for 2000 $.
The grade is basically a measure of how good the coin looks. Is it clean, is it shiny, are there any scratches…?
There are different factors that affect this metric such as the strike quality, how well the coin is preserved and how long it has been in circulation.
Experts will examine the 1982 penny and give it a grade on a 70-point scale with one or two letters that represent a certain range on the scale.
They will place in a plastic transparent holder that shows you all the details about the coin without having to open it.
There are many places where you can find experts to grade your penny. The most famous and trustworthy firms are Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), Independent Coin Graders (ICG), and ANACS.
Grading coins is an extract science. It is subjective. However, the ratings that two different graders give will be very close.
It is important to note that cleaning coins and making them shinier won’t increase its value. Collectors like pristine coins. So keep the coin as is before sending it for grading.
DIY balance to weigh 1982 pennies
In a previous paragraph, I told you that you need a 0.1-gram scale to weigh the 1982 pennies in order to discern between copper and zinc ones.
These electronic scales are super cheap. So I recommend you get one of them.
But if you don’t have time to go to the store and buy one (or wait for the shipping if you purchased it online), you can make a simple and accurate balance to do that.
You only need a 1983 penny (or newer), since they are made after the change was made. They will be made out of zinc (in most cases). You also need an ice-cream stick and a straw.
Place the straw under the middle of the stick and place the 1983 penny on its end. Now you have a scale.
If the stick is leveled when you place a 1982 coin on its other end then it’s zinc; if it is not then it is copper.
The US mint issued billions of pennies. The value of the crashing majority of them is nothing more than their face value. But…
You can sell your 1982 penny for a lot of money if you find a rare variety, an error or if it has a high grade. The prices range from 150 to 18,000 $ depending on these factors.