1990 Penny Value: Worth Guide by Coin Value Checker

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If you’re planning on obtaining a 1990 penny and need to know if it is worth more than its face value of one cent, you’re in the right place

The value of that 1990 penny could be worth more than you think and, in some cases, less than you would hope; it all depends on the coin’s grading on the Sheldon scale, its demand, and rarity.

So, before bidding on that coin, here’s all there is to know about the 1990 Lincoln penny.

1990 Penny Value Chart 
Mint MarkGood  – Extremely FineUncirculated MS64Uncirculated MS66+Uncirculated MS69
1990 No Mint Mark Penny Value (P)$5$7$20$7,200
1990 “D” Mint Mark Penny Value$6$7$20$3,000
1990 “S” Mint  Penny Value Proof$1$3$5$14
1990 No Mint Mark Penny Value (S)N/A$2,300$3,250$6,400

History of the 1990 Penny

The 1990 penny dates back to 1909 when the first Lincoln penny series was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth.

As time passed, the design on the reverse was changed in 1958, and a new reverse design showing the Lincoln Memorial was created to celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary of his birth. This new design would then go on to be used till 2008.

The new pennies were quite different from their predecessors in some ways. For one, although the obverse still featured Victor David Brenner’s design, the reverse no longer included the wheat sheaves; instead, you’d find the Lincoln Memorial.

Another feature that changed is the coin composition. Instead of the initial 95% copper and 5% tin used in the 1909 series, the 1909 penny is composed of zinc with an outer copper layer. This change occurred in 1982 due to the increase in the cost of copper.

Following the initial change in design, the next time the design of the Lincoln penny saw changes was in 2009.

This change was to uphold the law that the reverse of the $1 coin should be redesigned to mark the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

For this purpose, four new designs on the Lincoln penny reverse emerged: Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky, Formative Years in Indiana, Professional Life in Illinois, and Presidency in Washington, D.C.

The current design of the Lincoln penny is the bass Union shield introduced in 2010.

Features of the 1990 Penny

Here, you learn the features of the 1990 Lincoln penny so that you can identify one by looking at the details on the coin.

The Obverse

This Victor D. Brenner front design of the 1990 penny is a sculpted image of Abraham Lincoln and other details. Brenner suggested that he expressed the sculpture based on how he would picture Lincoln reading to a child, which formed the base of the obverse’s design.

Important details to look out for include:

  • IN GOD WE TRUST – above the image of Abraham Lincoln, close to the upper rim
  • LIBERTY – towards the left, close to Lincoln’s neck
  • 1990 – by the lower right of the coin

Additionally, this image is predominantly Lincoln facing rightward. The mint mark in this series appears on the obverse below the date and carries the mark D or S, as the case may be.

The Reverse

The coin’s reverse carries a design that also honors Abraham Lincoln. However, instead of his image, we have an image of Lincoln’s memorial, designed by Frank Gasparro, at the center of the coin.

Additionally, some phrases complete these pennies, and they are:

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – at the top of the memorial’s image and extending around the curves
  • ●      E PLURIBUS UNUM – the famous Latin motto, below the United States and a little above the memorial
  • ONE CENT – the denomination with a larger font placed beneath the memorial’s image

N.B: All these phrases, both on the obverse and the reverse, are all in uppercase letters

The Edges

The 1990 Lincoln cents have a smooth and undecorated edge. This gives the coin a simple finish to its appearance.

1990 Penny Details

Coin Series: Lincoln Memorial Penny Year: 1990 Total Mintage: 11,777,959,092 Obverse Designer: Victor D. Brenner (1909) Reverse Designer: Frank Gasparro (1959) Mint Location: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver Composition: 99.2% zinc, 0.8% copper Diameter: 19 millimeters Weight: 2.5 grams Edges: Plain Melt value: $0.0062

Examining the physical features is one of many means to identify a 1990 Lincoln Memorial penny. The coin has a diameter of 19.00 millimeters and a weight of 2.50 grams.

Additionally, this coin also has three color designations: brown, red, and red-brown. The red color is the most coveted by collectors, and as you would expect, this affects the value. Lastly, we also recommend using this coin value checker to determine the value of your coin.

Varieties of the 1990 Penny

There are severities of the 1990 Lincoln cents. This is a result of the production across the different mints, and to differentiate these varieties, there is a mint mark and, in some cases, a lack of one on the coin’s obverse.

MintmarksLocationMintage
1990 No Mint Mark PennyPhiladelphia6,851,765,000
1990 “D” Mint Mark PennyDenver4,922,894,533
1990 “S” Mint Mark PennySan Francisco3,299,559

1990 No Mint Mark Penny Value

The Philadelphia Mint produced 6,851,765,000, the highest mintage of the 1990 series. None of these coins had mint marks, consistent with the standard Philadelphia mint practice.

Due to the high mintage number, most of these no-mint mark pennies have low value in the coin market, and it would take having a coin in a gem-quality condition to get any actual value from these coins.

In fine quality, these coins will sell for $5 for most of the cents you find, and if it’s a little cleaner, they can go as high as $20, while the gem quality coins will sell for more valuable prices.

The record sale for the 1990 no-mint mark penny is $7,200. A value owed to the grade and color of the coin. Heritage auctions made the sale.

1990 “D” Mint Penny Value

The Denver mint produced 4,922,894,533 coins, making it the second-highest mintage of the 1990 series. Identifying these coins from the mint in Denver is pretty easy as they come with a “D” mint mark which you’ll find beneath the 1990 inscription on the coin’s obverse.

The value of the Denver Mint series is dependent on the grade. This coin has a high mintage meaning it is easy to acquire, so to get any real value from it, ensure it is in perfect condition.

Fine-grade coins in this series rarely exceed $5 – $20 because they are common. The color also determines the value, brown coins are common and not so valuable, but red coins are worth more.

An eBay auction holds the record for the most expensive 1990 “D” mint mark penny sold. The coin was an MS69 grade 1990 Lincoln memorial penny sold for $2,938 in 2021.

1990 “S” Mint Mark Penny Value (Proof)

All “S” mint mark 1990 penny come from the San Francisco mint.

The number of proofs for the 1990 Lincoln cents is relatively high, directly impacting its value. Since these coins are easily accessible because of the high mintage, the value is not so high, especially when it is in okay condition.

These prices range between $1 to $14 depending on the grade and how deep the cameo of the coin appears. One S mint mark PR70 grade penny was sold for $2,358 in 2004.

1979 Quarters Error

Asides from grading, another factor that affects the value of these pennies are error coins. Errors happen during production, making the coin rare and making coin collectors seek after the coin. Below are some of these special error coins.

1990 Penny Off-center Error

There is a Philadelphia mint Lincoln cent produced with an off-center strike. This means that during the striking process, the coin got struck partially away from where it was meant to hit on the planchet, and this caused an error.

The implication is that some information meant to appear on the coin will shift towards one part of the coin. This error coin is valued at $59.95 due to its rarity.

1990 Penny Struck on a Bronze Planchet Error

These kinds of errors are known as transition errors, and they occur during a switch from one coin to another. During the production of new coins, it is common for the old planchets to still be in use when the new coin design appears on the metal.

Errors like these are valuable because these coins should not exist, so collectors seek after them. In 2021, a red-brown penny sold for $4,200 due to this error.

1990 No Mint Mark San Francisco Penny Error

This error exists because the San Francisco mint mistakenly released 1990 Lincoln cents without the usual S mint mark, which brought about these special coins’ existence. This error made this pile the most valuable of the 1990 series.

In addition to this, this is also the only Lincoln set from the San Francisco mint without any mint mark on the coin. Since the mint destroyed many of these coins after discovering this error, only 200 units of the coin are in circulation, making them highly coveted.

An MS64 grade coin with this error is worth about $2,300, but if you find one in a much higher grade, you are looking at a much higher value of $6,400. The auction record for this coin stands at $20,700. A sale made in 2007 by Bowers & Merena.

FAQs

Is the 1990 penny worth a lot of money?

Generally, these pennies do not fetch a high price in the coin market because of their high mintage. However, if the 1990 penny in your possession is in a good state, especially the rarer no mint mark S penny, you could walk home with thousands of dollars.

How do I know if my 1990 penny is valuable?

The best way to confirm if you have a valuable penny is to grade it. You can always reach out to numismatists who are grading professionals, so they can help you get the correct grade and value for your penny.