This 1959-D Wheat Penny Is A Mule Coin Worth $50,000... See Why This Mule Error Coin Is So Rare And Valuable! (2024)

This 1959-D Wheat Penny Is A Mule Coin Worth $50,000... See Why This Mule Error Coin Is So Rare And Valuable! (1)

The 1959-D wheat penny is a very famous mule coin — one of the best known and most valuable mule coins around.

What is a mule coin? A mule coin is a type of error coin that has an obverse (heads side) and reverse (tails side) not typically seen on the same piece. A mule coin consists of 2 coins that wouldn’t ordinarily go together.

This rare penny is worth a whopping $50,000 — that’s a pretty penny indeed for this unique wheat cent!

Just one of these old wheat pennies is known to exist.

Making things even more complicated is the fact that some numismatists don’t even know if this is a real coin. You see, there’s absolutely no record that the United States Mint made it — even though the Secret Service has provided written documentation that it’s genuine.

There’s a fascinating story behind the 1959-D penny error. Read on to find out more about this unusual coin of unknown origin…

The Mystery Of The 1959-D Wheat Penny

As most coin collectors know, Lincoln wheat pennies were struck from 1909 through 1958. Beginning in 1959, the reverse of the wheat cent was redesigned with the Lincoln Memorial motif to honor the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth in 1809.

Until 1986, it was always assumed the last Lincoln wheat pennies were made in 1958. Or were they?

That’s the question a retired California police officer named Leon Baller wondered after placing an ad in his local newspaper offering to buy rare coins. He received an inquiry from a reader on an odd 1959-D penny with wheat ears instead of the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse.

Baller paid $1,500 for the coin — unsure if it was real or not. He then sent it to the U.S. government for verification of its authenticity.

Here’s what the U.S. government said…

This 1959-D Wheat Penny Is A Mule Coin Worth $50,000... See Why This Mule Error Coin Is So Rare And Valuable! (2)

The coin was returned to Baller, along with a note signed by Special Agent for the Department of the Treasury Richard M. McDrew. The note states:

“Enclosed is your United States 1¢ coin, dated 1959-D, with wheat reverse. This coin was microscopically examined by our Forensic Services Division in Washington, D.C. and it is their opinion the coin is genuine.”

Baller sold the coin in 1987. It later turned up in the hands of coin collector Larry Choate, who re-submitted the coin to the U.S. government for further testing. (Choate took a big risk in doing this — because if the coin was counterfeit, it would’ve been confiscated. And if it was illegally made at the Denver Mint, the penny could’ve been confiscated for that reason, too.

The government once again said the 1959-D penny was genuine and deemed it a legal tender Lincoln cent. The coin was returned to Choate with a long letter explaining that multiple tests had been conducted on the mule penny. According to the Secret Service, everything about the coin checked out as genuine — including its weight, metal composition, surface details, and other physical characteristics.

So, Did The US Mint Really Strike The 1959-D Penny Error?

No record is known to exist of the 1959-D wheat penny ever being made. And the big coin grading firms such as Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) can’t find any evidence the US Mint struck this coin. Therefore, neither of these companies has decided to certify or grade this coin.

But does that mean the coin was NOT made at the US Mint? NO!

In fact, many coins have been “unofficially” struck at the US Mint — like these:

  • The 1913 Liberty nickel is one of the rarest U.S. coins around. As it turns out, the 1913 Liberty nickel was struck at the US Mint without authorization. It’s now one of the most valuable coins of all time, selling for more than $4 million!
  • A unique 1970-S proof Washington quarter struck on a 1941 Canadian quarter was made in much the same way. The unique error, worth about $35,000, was likely struck as a gag by a US Mint employee and escaped the mint facility.

Some believe the 1959-D penny error was also made as a one-off piece — perhaps struck as a prank, a gag, a dare, or even the intentional attempt by a worker to make a unique coin that someday could become very valuable.

How Much Is The 1959-D Wheat Penny Mule Worth?

The 1959-D mule penny sold for $50,000 in 2019, after being offered by famous numismatic auctioneers Ira & Larry Goldberg.

It’s possible that as time goes on, coin collectors may be able to identify what pair of dies was used in striking the 1959-D penny error. If they can do this, or if one of the slabbing services like PCGS or NGC decides to certify and encapsulate the coin, the 1959-D wheat cent may become worth even more.

This is, after all, one of the most unique, controversial, and colorful mule error coins in the hobby.

The verdict is still out on how this coin was made — but there’s no question any coin collector would be proud to own it.

Talk about a conversation piece!

Keep this U.S. error coins list handy — so you can reference which coins are rare & valuable by denomination!

Joshua

I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!

This 1959-D Wheat Penny Is A Mule Coin Worth $50,000... See Why This Mule Error Coin Is So Rare And Valuable! (2024)

FAQs

How much is a 1959-D mule penny worth? ›

The 1959-D wheat penny is one of the most controversial mule coins ever. It's worth $50,000! Here's everything you could possibly want to know about the 1959-D penny error!

What is the 1959-D penny mule error? ›

“Although the submitted 1959-D Lincoln Cent exhibits the wheat reverse, instead of the Mint specified memorial reverse, the submitted coin exhibits physical characteristics, such as device detail, metal flow, die polish, thickness, diameter, mass and composition, consistent with genuine 1958/59 Lincoln cents.

What is special about 1959-D penny? ›

1959 was the first year of the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse… making it the only coin with the same President on Both sides of the same coin… A small date 1960-d Cent is worth 20–30 cents in pristine condition…

Where can I sell my 1959 D penny? ›

For circulated coins in low grades, you can easily buy or sell a Lincoln penny by visiting your local coin dealer.

What is a mule error on a penny? ›

Lincoln cent with a Roosevelt dime reverse. Image: PCGS / CoinWeek. The United States Mint accidentally produced a coin that married a Lincoln cent obverse with a Roosevelt dime reverse; this type of error is known as a “mule”.

How much is a mule error coin worth? ›

Mint - a “mule” is defined as a coin minted with obverse and reverse dies not normally seen on the same piece. It has been graded PCGS MS-66, which is tied for the finest graded by PCGS. The PCGS Price Guide value is $125,000.

What does an error penny look like? ›

Error Pennies are coins that show evidence of mistakes made in the minting process, such as stamped off centers, double-struck coins, or missing elements. Collectors of Error Pennies seek to acquire coins with such mistakes, as the rarity of these coins makes them highly sought after and valuable.

How much is the error on the wheat penny worth? ›

1955 Lincoln Wheat Penny (Double Die)

The date and the motto on this wheat penny double-die error are double-struck on the coins. The Philadelphia Mint made these coins in 1955, and their prices range from $500 to $2,600.

What pennies with the letter D are worth money? ›

Lincoln Wheat Penny Values Are Rising
DATEGOODEXTREMELY FINE
1914 Lincoln Penny (D)$200$875
1914 Lincoln Penny (S)$24$85
1915 Lincoln Penny$1.75$60
1915 Lincoln Penny (D)$2$22
82 more rows

Is a 1960 D penny rare? ›

Both varieties are common, though superb examples are rare. For instance, the finest 1960-D Large Date Cents certified by PCGS as of October 2011 were only two MS67RD examples.

How much is a 1959 D wheat penny worth? ›

A 1959-D Lincoln Cent 'Mule' Hits $50,000

After previously selling for $27,000 and $48,300, the 1959 Lincoln with a 1958 Wheat reverse fetches $50K at Goldberg Auctioneers. The 1959-D Lincoln cent should have the Lincoln Memorial reverse, as 1959 was the year the United States Mint retired the Wheat reverse.

Why is a 1982 penny worth so much? ›

One reason these coins are so valuable has to do with what they are made of. As GOBankingRates previously reported, any penny minted before 1982 contains 95% copper. Copper pennies are a relatively common find in a penny roll, which lowers their value.

Why is a 1958 D penny worth so much? ›

The 1958 D Wheat Penny is not particularly rare as it had a large mintage, but high-grade examples or those with errors are more valuable. What factors affect the 1958 D Wheat Penny value? Condition, mint errors, and rarity influence its value.

How much is a mule coin worth today? ›

For that particular mule, there are about 20 known examples, and they typically sell for around $100,000 to $125,000 USD. Most of the other mule types sell for between $25,000 and $100,000. Counterfeits exist for mule errors, most of which are made by altering genuine coins to make them look like a mule.

How do I identify a $1 mule coin? ›

It can be identified by the double rim that lines the head side of the coin. This $1 coin can be worth thousands of dollars. Picture: TikTok. The mistake is known as a mule error — an error in which a coin is struck with dies that were not intended to be paired.

What is a mule cent penny? ›

In numismatics, a mule is a coin or medal minted with obverse and reverse designs not normally seen on the same piece. These can be intentional or produced by error. This type of error is highly sought after by collectors, and examples can fetch high prices.

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